Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Workers’ Rights, Maurice Quinlivan TD has said the last few weeks has exposed the urgent need for legislation to cover the various issues thrown up by hundreds of thousands of people now working from home.
Speaking today, Deputy Quinlivan said;
“The past few weeks have shown how hundreds of thousands of people, who normally don’t work remotely, can do so effectively from their own homes.
“There is no doubt the benefits of this are huge; reduced traffic and emissions, less time spent commuting means more time to spend with friends and family, no need to rent expensive urban residential accommodation and more money in people’s pockets as a result.
“Although there are a host of benefits to remote working, 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.
“Data protection and the handling of sensitive information is another key issue that needs to be covered, to ensure the protection of 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.
“While some will be content to work some or all of their time from home, 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.
“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.”