A new package of tax incentives to encourage people to work from home will be rolled out in the next Budget, the Tánaiste has confirmed.
Leo Varadkar promised improvements in the current regime that allows workers claim tax reliefs worth an average of around €30 to €100 per year. Employers can pay a €3.20-per-day allowance, but most do not.
Mr Varadkar was speaking as he outlined details of a new Government strategy on remote working that will include a legal right for employees to ask to work from home permanently.
It also promises better protections for workers to enable them to disconnect from work after hours.
“At the moment, you can receive a tax-free payment of €3.20 a day from your employer for home working, or you can have some of your expenses – utilities, for example – reimbursed,” said Mr Varadkar.
“But it’s intended that as part of the Budget package in October, there will be a new package of tax incentives
and expenses to encourage people to work from home.
“So you will see an improvement there in what’s currently in place.”
The Tánaiste said the Government also needs to examine ways it can help out employers.
He said in the medium to long term, remote working could reduce business costs. However, a lot of employers had told him they are “kind of stuck with both” costs of renting office space and supporting employees working from home.
“At the moment, they have the cost of the rent and utilities on the office, and they’re also covering some of the costs of people working at home,” he said.
Meanwhile, workers who refuse to check emails and take calls out of hours are promised better legal protection in the new Government plan.
The National Remote Work Strategy commits to drawing up a code of practice for the “right to disconnect”.
It said the Government has asked the Workplace Relations Commission to draw up the code for approval by the minister.
When asked what difference the code will make to workers, a spokesperson at the Department of Enterprise said it will be possible to refer to the code in disputes and adjudications.
Labour spokesperson on employment rights, Marie Sherlock, said codes are not as effective for workers as legislating to give them a legal right to disconnect.
“The jury is out on the effectiveness of a code of practice and it is no substitute for a legal right, which gives a much clearer message and direction to employers and employees,” she said.
“There is a real concern that a code of practice would have little or no effect.”
Source: Irish News