When your Home is your Workplace: A remote workers’ guide to your employment rights

Developments in technology and its availability have made it possible for many desk jobs to be performed outside of an employer’s premises, for part or all of the working week.

Over a matter of days, tens of thousands of businesses moved their staff to work remotely from home during the Covid-19 pandemic to help slow the spread of the virus. For the vast majority of these workers and their employers this was their first experience of working from home, and many have expressed an interest to continue this type of working arrangement on a permanent basis.

Working from home or remotely from another location close to home, such as a digital hub or co-working space, has many advantages for workers. It can, for instance, improve your work-life balance, reduce your commuting time and carbon footprint, and save you money. However, in the absence of a collectively agreed company policy on homeworking, workers can face challenges too, such as working longer hours, feeling lonely and stressed, and slower progress up the career ladder.

While successive governments since the 1990s have supported a switch from office-based to remote working, there is still no national guidance for workers or employers engaging in remote working.

This worker’s guide to your employment rights when your home is your workplace has been developed by the Private Sector Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

In September 2019, ICTU was appointed by the Government as one of 12 SDG champions from across society to drive Ireland’s progress towards achieving the UN 17 Sustainable Development Goals. This guide, in promoting good employment conditions where an employee works from home, supports SDG Goal 8 which emphasises the importance of decent work.

The trade union movement is fully committed to ensuring workers’ hard-won rights are preserved when working from home, that protections are fit for purpose and that the post Covid-19 world of homeworking does not lead to greater work precarity and casualisation.

Patricia King
ICTU General Secretary