MPs on Tuesday voiced exasperation at the government’s delay in tabling a bill that regulates remote working, while the employers and industrialists federation proposed the legislation be put on ice until after the European Commission issues a relevant directive.

Head of the Department of Labour Relations at the ministry of labour Andis Apostolou said the draft bill is still being vetted by the attorney-general’s office.

The official added that in late September a meeting is scheduled between the minister of labour and stakeholders at which time the timetable for tabling the bill to parliament should clear up.

In October last year, MPs asked the government to prepare legislation to regulate work-from-home in a bid to secure workers’ rights, which appeared to have been affected during the coronavirus pandemic.

At the time committee chair Andros Kafkalias said with remote working there was a tendency to deregulate labour relations and the state should ensure employment conditions would remain unchanged.

The Akel MP said the pandemic accelerated procedures to include remote work in labour conventions as a flexible way of employment with a positive impact on workers and work conditions.

However, reality was different, he had said, with people reporting many hours of unpaid labour, extension of work hours, raised stress levels and a disruption of work/family balance.

According to a study by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working (Eurofound), 27 per cent of those working from home said they had been forced to work during their spare time in an effort to meet demands.

MPs said the bill must include provisions establishing workers’ rights to disconnect after their working hours and ensure fair remuneration.

Work hours should be clearly defined and a balance between private and professional life must be ensured.

At the house labour committee on Tuesday, main civil servants union Pasydy claimed that the proposed legislation concerns only private-sector workers.

But Apostolou refuted this, saying the bill as it stands covers employees in the private and public sectors alike.

“If in the future this changes, I cannot know that.”

Answering questions, the official said the bill is modeled on comparable legislation adopted in Greece.

For their part, the Employers and Industrialists Federation (OEV) asked that the bill not be submitted to parliament for the time being.

OEV representative Polyvios Polyviou said EU authorities are currently in the process of devising regulations for remote working, after which a relevant directive is expected.

It was therefore better to wait for any such directive from Brussels, and then adapt the Cypriot draft legislation to it, rather than table the bill now and possibly need to start from scratch.