The Health Ministry and the Mount Carmel Hospital authorities did not say why they had stopped a group of social workers from working from home for two hours a day.

The teleworking option was granted to the social workers to be able to write reports, a clerical part of their job that does not require them to be physically present at the hospital.

Sources said the social workers enjoying the teleworking arrangement were curtly informed that agreement was being stopped due to “budgetary constraints”. 

As a result, their physical presence at their workplace was being demanded, they were told.

The sources said the workers, most of them women, were utilising the telework option to balance out their family responsibilities with those related to their full-time employment.

A meeting is expected to be held today between the hospital management and the Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses, which represents the social workers.

Union general secretary Colin Galea told the Times of Malta when contacted the issue simply “did not make sense” because it went against the work-life balance the government was preaching.

The issue simply does not make sense

“We have a meeting with the CEO specifically on this topic. We have no doubt that this issue does not make sense because these professionals have a substantial amount of work that is office work and can easily be done through telework. These social workers have only 10 hours of telework per week when the office work it entails takes longer than 20 hours a week,” Mr Galea said. 

“We hope this issue will be resolved during the meeting.”

The sources said removing the telework option gave the social workers no option but to find alternatives for their children and address other logistical nightmares.

Some social workers had enjoyed the telework arrangements for more than five years.

The workers were insisting they had been encouraged to take up such arrangements as telework in line with the government’s efforts to introduce family-friendly measures to safeguard a work-life balance. 

They argued that telework did not come at an added cost so the argument that this was being done for budgetary reasons did not add up.

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