Fórsa is seeking the negotiation of agreed and comprehensive guidelines on remote working for application across the civil and public service. The union’s general secretary Kevin Callinan has written to public expenditure minister Michael McGrath , asking him to open an early engagement with Fórsa on its claim.
He said the claim was designed “to reach agreement on a clear and consistent public service approach to remote working, based on principles of fair access, adequate employee protections, and robust measures to underpin continued public service quality and productivity.”
The union wants discussions to take place under the auspices of the new public service agreement, Building Momentum, which commits management and unions to establish the public service as a “driver of best practice” on remote work.
Fórsa’s move came in the same week that the union welcomed the publication of the plan for rural Ireland, which further outlined the Government’s thinking on remote work in the public service. The union’s detailed claim seeks agreement under 20 broad headings, including:
- The consistent application of agreed guidelines for identifying functions that can be performed remotely, and for selecting staff to be allocated to home working arrangements
- Fair access and the right to request remote work
- The principal that individual employees can decline remote work arrangements
- Compliance with health and safety legislation, including specific measures relating to mental health, pregnant women, young workers, and workers with disabilities
- Specific advice on compliance with working time legislation and the ‘right to disconnect’
- Agreed guidance on flexible work arrangements, work attendance and time measurement
- The provision of management training and supports to line managers
- The promotion of regular, quality communications between line managers and their staff, and the inclusion of remote workers in collective workplace activities including business meetings and training
- Strong direction that staff who work remotely should routinely spend some time in the workplace
- Full transparency and agreement over the use of any surveillance products or practices, and a guarantee that employees’ rights to privacy and a reasonable work-life balance will be protected, along with full compliance with the provisions of data protection legislation.
Fórsa says any agreement “should preclude individual departments, organisations or managers from opting out of some or all elements of an agreed approach unless an objective rationale is demonstrated.”
Making Remote Work, the Government’s remote working strategy, which was published in January, developed Programme for Government commitments on remote working and pledged to make remote working the norm for 20% of public sector staff.