Back in March, businesses had to react and adapt quickly to the work from home directive.
This time round, it’s important for employers get all their ducks in a row to manage home workers.
Paul Kelly at Blacks Solicitors has highlighted key areas for consideration.
The contract of employment
- Contractual terms need to be updated to reflect the new home working arrangement between the parties.
- State what address the employee will be working from.
- Confirm what their hours of work will be.
- Set out what contact you expect from the employee (daily, weekly, monthly etc.).
- If the employee has time recording obligations, what will they be?
- What will be the process for the employee to notify head office of sickness or holiday absence?
- In what circumstances and how regularly will the employee be required to attend the office?
- Does the employer need the right to enter the employees home?
- Will this be a permanent change or can the homeworking arrangement be terminated?
- Is there a formal homeworking policy?
- What equipment is the employer going to provide (furniture IT facilities Wifi/telephone line Secure storage, etc)?
- Will the employer need a right of access to the employee’s home to repair and remove equipment?
Insurance and consent
- Does the employee have consent from their mortgage provider to work from home?
- Will the employee be in breach of a covenant on the title to their property if they work from home?
- Are homeworkers covered by the employer’s public liability insurance?
- Will the employee be given an allowance to purchase office equipment and sundries or simply claim things on expenses? Will an expense limit be required?
- Does the employer want to stipulate that home workers can only use preferred suppliers for office equipment?
- Agree what the employer will cover as legitimate business expense (heating, lighting, ‘office improvement’ etc.)?
- Can the cost of the employee’s travel to the office b covered by expenses?
- Check HMRC guidance re: tax consequences for employee.
Wellbeing and benefits
- Homeworkers should not be penalised in respect of pay and benefits due to their status.
- Managers should make welfare calls if the employee is not in regular contact.
- Homeworkers should always be invited to social events and receive internal updates.
- Consider what support can be offered to homeworkers to mitigate feelings of isolation/mental health
- The home office is an extension of the workplace.
- Employer should be satisfied that the employee’s home is suitable to ensure safety of confidential/sensitive information and that the employee’s home office secure.
- Identify who may have access to the employee’s IT facilities/home office?
- If the employee is using their own IT equipment, is it secure?
- What are the arrangements for safe storage of documents?
- Does the employee have adequate facilities to safely destroy documents?
- How will the employee report breaches of GDPR?
Health and safety
- Employers have a duty of care to provide all employees with a safe working environment, even those working from home.
- Employers should conduct a risk assessment of the employee’s home workspace.
- Working Time Regulations still apply to homeworkers (48 hour cap) so ensure that the employee takes adequate rest (monitor screen usage?).
- The employer has a duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled employees even if they are working from home.
- Employee also has a duty to take care of their own health and safety and report any issues to the employer.
A final reminder to check in on employees on a regular basis.
Monitoring mental health, how working from home affects each individual, training and development and maintaining team spirit are all vital elements to ensure a productive workforce over the long term.