Work from home if you can!

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?

Equipment

  • 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?

Expenses

  • 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

Data Protection/GDPR

  • 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.