Sinn Féin spokesperson on Workers’ Rights, Louise O’Reilly TD, has called on the Government to heed the guidance of the National Public Health Emergency Team and reinstate advice allowing workers the option to work remotely.
Teachta O’Reilly said:
“Since the end of September, official government advice has been for a return to on-site working. While this move worked well initially, it has become clear that overcrowded public transport and crowded office spaces have played their part in Covid case numbers rising again. Indeed, the situation has prompted an infectious disease consultant, Dr Eoghan de Barra, to say that going into work in an office every day is riskier than occasionally going to nightclub.
“Given that many workers who were called back to their offices could perform their duties remotely, the Government should heed the guidance of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) and reinstate advice allowing workers the option to work remotely.
“For some weeks now I have raised this matter with the Tánaiste. Indeed, I wrote to him seeking clarity on remote working and the return to on-site working.
“The Tánaiste’s written response was that the general return to workplaces should continue on a phased and cautious basis. However, that response contrasted with public announcements that the people should work from home, where possible.
“While some employers and managers are continuing to exert caution and allow workers to work from home, others are seeking a full return to on-stie working, and in the face of increasing Covid case numbers, such decisions are unnecessarily endangering workers.
“For some weeks now I have been highlighting that if work duties can be performed from home, and where a worker’s preference is to continue to perform their duties from home, then that process should be supported.
“NPHET has now come out and strongly advised similar, urging the government to advise that people work from home, where possible, and that employers be supportive of the move.
“Without the legal right to request remote working, workers really need the government to reinstate their previous working from home advice, so workers, where possible, can work remotely without fear or favour.”