Jack Quann
Jack Quann

08.34 11 Nov 2020


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The Labour Party has introduced a bill to address the big shift to working from home as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Working from Home (COVID-19) Bill 2020 will be put forward in the Dáil on Thursday.

It proposes that workers be given a 'right to switch off', would require employers to provide a home workstation, and a flat rate payment to cover the costs of working from home.

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The party says current payments in respect of working from home are at the discretion of the employer, and this should not continue.

Labour employment affairs spokesperson Marie Sherlock told Newstalk Breakfast the cost of running an office is now on the shoulders of workers.

"At the start of this year there was just 9% of all workers who were working either full-time or some of their working day from home - and that ballooned to just short of 700,000, or almost one-third of all workers, during the height of the pandemic.

"And whether we have a vaccine or not, the reality is that hundreds of thousands of workers are going to be working from home well into 2021 and beyond".

She said the bill would address issues such as inadequate workspaces - "people having to work on the edge of the bed" - as well as "a failure" by some employers to make proper provision."

"We're not talking about an increase in their salary and their wage - we're talking about making sure that they get a proper workstation.

"And in fairness some employers have been very good, but some employers have not".

On the Working From Home Allowance, she said: "At the moment what we have seen is a transfer of the costs of running an office transferred from the employer on to the shoulders of workers.

"Utility costs in terms of the cost of broadband, in terms of the cost of heating".

"We ran a survey before we started work on this bill during the summer, and one of the single greatest complaints that we picked up on was the failure of employers to provide.

"And at the moment we have a situation where employers can make a tax-free, daily allowance to their workers of €3.20 per day.

"Or if employers don't pay, then workers can go through the cumbersome process of claiming back up to 10% of their utility costs from the Revenue Commissioners".

However to do this she said people would have to get a letter from their employer, and produce their utility bills.

Main image by Joshua Woroniecki from Pixabay 

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