The Government advice is clear. We are currently at Level 5 of the Government’s Living with COVID-19 Plan and within Level 5 people should work from home unless it is absolutely necessary to attend in person for the delivery of an essential service as listed on www.gov.ie.
The Health and Safety Authority has produced detailed guidance for both employers and employees in relation to home-working on a temporary basis during COVID-19 restrictions. This guidance will help employers to understand the requirements, and steps to take, when setting up working-from-home arrangements for employees from a health and safety perspective. The guidance is available on-line at www.hsa.ie.
While an employer is responsible in the first instance, for determining what work can be done remotely, employers and workers should seek to resolve any matters relating to remote working at a local level through mutual dialogue and engagement. Where this is not possible and an employee is dissatisfied, a compliant may be made to the State's workplace relations services. Advice can be obtained from the Information & Customer Service of the WRC at Lo-call: 1890 80 80 90 or 059 9178990 or from its website www.wrc.ie.
It should be noted that responsibility for health and safety at work rests with the employer whether or not that work is being done at the employee’s home and, in this regard, work being done from home needs to be managed and coordinated to ensure that employees are not put at risk from long-term health and safety hazards.
Separately, I would like to highlight the report “Making Remote Work” which I launched recently. This is Ireland’s National Remote Work Strategy and sets out the path to making remote working a more permanent option in workplaces across Ireland after the COVID-19 pandemic has passed. Its actions will be progressed over the course of 2021 and includes commitments to legislate for the right to request remote working and new rules to allow employees the right to disconnect. The strategy can be viewed on my Department's website.