COVID-19 Homeworking and the Legal Considerations

With homeworking likely to continue for many people over the coming months, what are the implications for businesses with employees working from home over a sustained period of time?

Outlined below are some contractual and legal considerations;

  • Review homeworking policy – it is good practice for the policy to address how employees will be supervised, how the business and line managers will communicate with employees and how work performance and output will be monitored.
  • Confirm employee rights – homeworking arrangement may be confirmed by a consent form, detailed homeworking arrangement or by amendments to the employee’s contract. Given the current circumstances, it would be good practice to express that changes are temporary and that the employee will, if applicable, return to office-based working once the situation ends.
  • Confirm contact methods – establish how and when employees, who are working from home, will have contact with their line manager. It is good practice for both the line manager and the employee to report in at regular times eg a weekly catch up call, and this can also help combat isolation and stress. Many teams are also continuing to meet virtually to update on their work progress and to keep in touch. You might encourage some social interaction at the start of the team meeting eg “the best thing that’s happened to me this week (not work related)” and go round the team.
  • Equipment – there is no obligation for employers to provide computer or other equipment necessary for working at home. However, given the latest government advice, employers should do what they can to enable employees to work from home. It is good practice to list equipment that has been supplied to employees.
  • Broadband –it is good practice for employers to confirm if the employee is expected to cover the broadband cost (plus any additional items, e.g. heating, lighting, telephone etc.) or if the employer will contribute towards these costs and, if so, to what extent.
  • Data protection – employers should make sure data protection obligations are maintained and employees using their own computer should still process information in compliance with data protection principles. Employers should remind employees about home security, confidential information, passwords, shredding etc.
  • Health and safety obligations – even when working from home, employers are responsible for an employee’s health, safety and wellbeing. Make sure employees are aware of the businesses health and safety policy. In addition, employees should continue to comply with the company’s sickness absence policy and report their sickness to their line manager when they are sick and unable to work.
  • Conduct risk assessments – it is good practice for employers to conduct risk assessments of all the work activities carried out by employees working from home eg the work station area and desk arrangement if employees are desk based for long periods of time. However, as this would go against government guidelines to do this face to face, electronic risk assessment questions could be used instead. It is the employee’s responsibility to address any flaws in the home revealed by the assessment for example if the chair does not provide good posture and the employee has back pain, the employer should look to provide suitable equipment.
  • Review working times – the business may be able to offer employees more flexibility over working hours whilst working from home. However, businesses still need to comply with the Working Time Regulations, including the working week and daily rest break. Employers should encourage regular stretch breaks if employees are desk based for long periods, and fresh air during lunch breaks.

 

If you would like further guidance or support on this matter or require advice on other people management matters please contact Clover HR on 0121 516 0299 or email us at info@cloverhr.co.uk ©️ Copyright Clover HR

 

References:

https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/fundamentals/relations/flexible-working/remote-working-top-tips


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