THE need for legislation to cover the various issues thrown up by hundreds of thousands of people now working from home is “urgent” according to a Limerick City TD.
Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Workers’ Rights Maurice Quinlivan TD has said the last number of weeks has shown many benefits to remote working such as less commuting time, reduced traffic emissions, and no need for renting residential office space which results in “more money in people’s pockets”.
“Although there are a host of benefits to remote working,” Deputy Quinlivan said, “some pitfalls have been exposed in the past few weeks, and legislation needs to be put in place to regulate this area and protect employees.
“Workers cannot be left out of pocket either for hardware like laptops or printers, or services required like broadband and electricity, when asked to work from home. Employers need to provide the equipment required if they want staff to work remotely.”
The Sinn Féin TD said data protection and the handling of other sensitive information is “another key issue that needs to be covered”, to protect employees, employers and third parties.
“A right to disconnect should also be incorporated into this legislation as it is vital for people’s health and well-being to normally separate work and home life, and even more so when working from home,” he said.
The Limerick City representative believes although some people will be “content” working remotely, “others find an office environment more appealing for a number of reasons; more conducive to their style of work, socialising with colleagues, lifestyle routine, or just simply getting out of the house”.
Deputy Quinlivan said, “Workers should not be forced to work from home if this is not their preference, as this could lead to social isolation or exclusion from a unionised workplace.
“That’s why Sinn Féin believe it’s essential trade unions are centrally evolved in drafting legislation governing this area.
“It is clear Covid-19 is with us for the short to medium term, so the government must legislate in this area once this pandemic has ended to ensure workers can sustainably work from home without facing any widespread difficulties or issues.”