With the huge increase on remote working since the Covid 19 pandemic began, today the government is launching a public consultation process on guidelines for remote working.
The coronavirus pandemic has meant that many office workers have been working from home for months now. If that includes you, perhaps you're enjoying your new commute-free life, and are hoping that remote work will continue to be a part of your job.
However, just as employers are obliged to provide safe working conditions in their buildings, so too do they have a responsibility to ensure that employees have everything they need to safely carry out their job if they're doing it at home. They also need to ensure employment rights are protected, and that data protection issues do not arise from people working outside of the office.
Earlier this week, the Financial Services Union called for the government to develop guidelines on remote working as a matter of urgency, and today they are launching a public consultation process to do that.
There are many potential issues when employees work from home, especially as their recent switch to do so was often hurried, with no time for planning, and so this consultation aims to address these potential problems.
The HSA has already released a set of recommendations for employers and employees to determine how suitable their remote working setup is. It raises issues such as employees having proper equipment, such as a headset if they are making a lot of calls, having a chair with back support, and being able to the have their monitor at a height that avoids them having to bending their neck for sustained periods of time.
Other potential issues include the constant availability of employees, which could cause employers to assign more work than before, and the fact that employees will face increased utility bills compared with being in the office all day.
Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar described the Covid 19 crisis as an "accelerator of change that was coming", and that if it was approached correctly, remote working could bring real benefits including reduced business costs and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as a better work-life balance.
The deadline for submissions to the public consultation from employers and employees is August 7.
Featured image: Bench Accounting via Unsplash
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