News Archive

Stronger Workers' Rights Vital to the Success of Remote Working

Date Released: 15 January 2021

Responding to the launch of the National Strategy on Remote Woking, Irish Congress of Trade Unions General Secretary Patricia King said: “It took a pandemic to fully awaken us to the potential for remote working. While the experience has been fraught for some workers, for the vast majority it has been a positive experience and there is now a huge appetite to continue to work remotely after the Covid-19 restrictions end.

“However, unlike workers across the EU, in the UK and Northern Ireland, workers in Ireland have no legal rights to remote working. The employer alone decides the place of work.

“Working from home or remotely from another location close to home, such as a digital hub or co-working space, has many advantages for workers. That is why ICTU was first to call for legislation to oblige employers to give requests for flexible working arrangements serious consideration. Without this requirement, Irish employers have shown themselves to be too quick to refuse out of hand to negotiate company-level agreements on remote working.

“I am pleased our calls have been heard and legislating for the right to request remote working is one of the six actions in the National Strategy” Ms King said.

Social Policy Officer, Dr Laura Bambrick said: “ICTU has been to the fore in highlighting the need for employment protections to keep pace with changes in the ways we work, and gaps in law closed. Workers’ hard-won rights must be preserved when working remotely.”

“Much of the same technology that enables us to work remotely also makes us reachable outside of work hours. The plan to have the Workplace Relations Commission draft legally enforceable regulations on workers’ right to switch off from work-related calls and messages outside of working hours without consequences for not replying is a good starting point to tackle the always-on work culture” she said.

Dr Bambrick added: “ICTU has led the way in highlighting how the current methods for reimbursing expenses are not fit for purpose. Remote workers should not have to carry the business costs - whether in the form of higher utility bills or the daily desk charge at a hub. The commitment to undertake a review of the available financial supports for remote workers acknowledges the need for them to more accurately reflect reality.”

Ms King said: “A right to remote working and stronger protections for remote workers are key to a smooth transition in the seismic shift in the ways we work. The National Strategy is recognition of this. ICTU will continue our work towards ensuring a full and proper implementation of the commitments given today.”