26 September 2023

IRELAND: PS to work from home till next year

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The Irish Department of Transport has told its workers that many of them will be working from home for the rest of the year.

Secretary-General of the Department, Graham Doyle (pictured), wrote to all staff saying that remote working would remain in place for all who could do so until at least August under the Government’s COVID-19 roadmap.

He said that then there would be “a very gradual staggered return to the office environment”.

“It is also clear that the wider Public Service will be showing leadership in this regard by continuing to work remotely where possible, so I expect that there may be a requirement for many of us to continue working in this manner for the remainder of 2020,” Mr Doyle said.

In the email, Mr Doyle said he expected a staggered return to work “will likely involve a maximum of 25 per cent of staff being present in any of our offices at any one time given the social distancing guidelines that are expected to remain in place for a considerable period of time”.

It is understood that Secretaries-General of Departments have discussed the issue in recent weeks, but no final decision has been made.

However, senior sources said that under the current public health advice, it is likely many Public Servants will be asked to remain working remotely beyond August, perhaps to the end of the year.

Unions warned if remote working becomes the norm for an extended period, public-sector employers would be expected to provide adequate support.

A spokesperson for the Fórsa union it wanted to see “adequate health-and-safety measures in place in areas like ergonomics, work-life balance, mental health, etc., if remote-working arrangements were to remain in place in the medium to long term”.

“In the emergency, everyone just stepped up and did what was needed. If it were to become the new normal for some, those protections would need to be put in place,” they said.

“Workers also need recognition that, while remote working really works for some, others just don’t enjoy the right home environment,” the spokesperson said.

Dublin, 12 May 2020

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