Advice to work from home must be matched by immediate Government action on tax relief for utility costs

16 October 2021
  • 30% tax relief announced in the Budget for remote workers must be backdated for 2021
  • Marked contrast in Budget this week compared with Budget 2021 where tax relief was backdated last year
  • Government must encourage employers to step up to the plate

Given the updated public health advice, Labour employment affairs spokesperson Marie Sherlock has called on government to immediately introduce the 30% tax relief that was announced for remote workers in Budget 2022.

Senator Sherlock said:

“Given the shift in public health advice to work from home where possible, we need government to ensure that the increased tax relief announced in the Budget for remote workers is introduced immediately. As it stands, the 30% tax relief will only become available from January 2022. The approach in this year’s Budget stands in marked contrast to last year where the tax relief was backdated for 2020.

“Tax relief alone is far from sufficient to defray the additional utility costs of working from home and for the past year Labour has been calling for a mandatory daily stipend payable by employers to employees in respect of the costs. In Budget 2022, the Government opted to just provide for increased tax relief which is likely to benefit workers on the standard rate of income tax by less than a miserly €100 per year.

“In the face of electricity cost inflation running at 20.5% and home heating oil costs growing by 45.7% in the 12 months to September, and the prospect of further gas and electricity price hikes of between 15% and 22% due to take effect this month, we need to ensure that those forced to work from home this winter are assisted as much as possible.

“The reality is that the costs of running an office have been shifted from the shoulders of employers to employees for the days that workers are working at home. The increase in the tax relief announced in Budget 2022 means that the State remains on the hook for this payment with no mandated payment from employers to their workers.

“Tax relief alone fails to consider about the bigger picture, particularly where an employer has decided to scale back on a physical office. Government must also encourage and pressurise employers to provide a daily stipend of €3.20 where workers have been workers to work remotely. Workers cannot be left out of pocket and should be supported by their employer to work from home safely and comfortably.

“As well as the measures required to protect remote workers, Government needs to urgently progress its proposed sick pay scheme to support people to do the right thing and stay at home if they are not feeling well. At any other time, we would have an obligation to ensure every worker has a right to paid sick leave. But during a pandemic, we have a special duty to ensure that no worker is out of pocket in the name of public health. This is a vital defence against the pandemic that has not materialised throughout the crisis.

“We need to support all workers and support them do the right thing at this precarious point in the pandemic.”

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