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Stand-offs predicted over remote work as 80% want continued flexibility
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03 Jun 2020 / employment Print

Remote work stand-offs in offing as 83% back decamp

Two-thirds of employees say they have equal or better productivity through remote working, an NUI Galway employee survey has found.

Over 83% would like to keep working from home, according to the survey.

The consensus is that the massive decamp from traditional workplaces to home has been quite successful, said Fieldfisher employment specialist Barry Walsh, in a briefing note published this week.

A Willis Towers Watson report in England last month found that 85% of organisations felt that they had the necessary tools to work remotely and productively for an extended period.

Walsh points out that the Irish Government has encouraged employers to facilitate employees to continue working remotely where possible to do so, at least until Phase 5 of the reopening in August 2020.

Initiatives

Additionally, the Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business suggests that the Government will bring forward initiatives to promote remote working. 

However, some organisations and sectors will simply not be amenable to longer-term home working and some employers will undoubtedly prefer a return to more familiar working models, Barry Walsh says.

He anticipates tension and stand-offs between some employers and employees, with some resisting a return to the traditional workplace on either health-and-safety grounds, or due to childcare constraints.

Fluid

Other employees may simply prefer working from home, in light of a good recent working experience and may resist calls to return.  

Walsh cautions that, in unprecedented and fluid times, employers should consult extensively and tread cautiously in all such situations, seeking to reach an accommodation if possible.

Flexibility and reasonableness is expected from employees, as well as their employers.

Action

However, any disciplinary action against employees who refuse to return to the workplace, particularly due to health or childcare concerns, should be a last resort, Walsh says.

Robust disciplinary actions against such employees are unlikely to be sympathetically considered in any subsequent Workplace Relations Commissions cases.

Those working from home are eligible for tax relief on expenses such as light, heat, telephone and internet usage. If an employer pays an allowance towards these expenses, workers can get up to €3.20 per day without paying any tax, PRSI or USC on it.

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