Government lacks consistency in applying its own work from home rules

Fórsa has written to the Minister for Public Expenditure about civil and public sector employers not following work from home guidelines.

Minister Michael McGrath wears a nice blue suit and smiles at the camera
Credit: Department of Public Expenditure and Reform | Twitter.

Kevin Callinan, secretary general of the trade union Fórsa, has written to the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath, to outline the union’s concern over the lack of consistency in the application of updated work from home guidance.

Since the middle of November public service employers have been advised that staff should return to working from home unless it is necessary for them to attend the workplace in person. On 26 November McGrath’s Department issued new guidelines to public service employers saying the latest stance “marks a return to the situation as it applied prior to the phased return to the workplace, which started on 20th September.”

Fórsa, which had met the Department prior to the publication of the new guidelines, said that while most employers were implementing the return to work from home where possible, the approach was not being followed consistently across the civil and public service.

Callinan subsequently wrote to the Minister setting out the union’s concerns.

“The union’s officials and representatives have observed a number of instances where employers are insisting that staff attend workplaces to perform work that can be effectively performed remotely. This includes, but is not confined to, work that had been performed remotely prior to 20th September and during earlier stages of the pandemic,” he wrote.

According to the guidelines, attendance at the workplace should only be for specific business purposes, which it says will be dependent on the individual circumstances of each workplace or premise.

Fórsa has told members that if they have a concern about Covid-19 safety measures in the workplace, they should contact their lead worker representative or, if that is not possible, their union representative.