The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry has voiced its concerns about remote working proposals put forward by the General Workers Union, saying that such arrangements should remain at the discretion of the parties involved.
The Chamber was responding to a call earlier this month by Secretary General Josef Bugeja of the General Workers Union (GWU) for employers to pay part of their teleworking employees’ rent, electricity bills, installation costs for telephone lines, WiFi, VPNs and air conditioning.
In its reaction to this newsroom, the Chamber warned against “expanding on the delicate balance which currently exists in the employer/employee relationship, at a time when all economic operators are going through significant hardships due to the ongoing economic crisis”.
Referring to the ongoing pandemic, it said that, “All workers understand that the current challenging scenario has exerted extra pressure on employers to keep their teams together.”
A spokesperson for the Chamber said that remote working does not necessarily mean working from home and therefore “a degree of flexibility remains key”.
“Hence,” he continued, “such arrangements, although encouraged, should remain at the discretion, of the employer-employee agreements which exist.”
Moreover, reacting to the proposal for health and safety inspections in employees’ home workspace, The Malta Chamber noted that according to national legislation, the employer is not required to risk assess the employee’s home space, saying that the said responsibility, in so far as health and safety is concerned, shall be determined by the nature of the work, and its complexity.
These comments echo those made on Monday by the Malta Employers Association, which said that remote working arrangements should be considered on a case by case basis. The employers’ lobby established a difference between those employees who requested to work from home to achieve a better work-life balance and those whose employer imposed work-from-home to save on overheads, saying that in the latter case “clear conditions concerning accommodation will have to be negotiated”.
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