Home working – are you prepared?
By Dee Woodcock
Home working has been steadily increasing over the last 10 years. However, since the onset of the pandemic the number has exploded. Employers, once reticent about accommodating this, suddenly found themselves actively shifting a substantial amount of their work force from the office to home. What seemed like a quick, convenient solution to a short-term problem may now become the new working norm. Significant numbers of employers have announced that notwithstanding the pandemic they will look to continue to keep their employees working from home. This means new positions are likely to be created on the basis that employees work from home.
However, are employers really geared up and prepared to handle and manage some of their employees, let alone the majority of their work force, working from home?
- Do they have contractual provisions and/or policies that fully cover employees working from home?
- Is confidential information and personal data still sufficiently protected?
- How will they manage and supervise the work?
- Have they carried out and reviewed health and safety implications of the arrangements? Completed a risk assessment?
- Have they identified any special equipment that should be provided?
- Have they considered or checked whether there are any special planning or insurance arrangements required?
- Have they considered if there are any tax consequences?
Employers need to ensure that they have their position covered and that they are in a position to direct and manage their workforce remotely.
Employers need to ensure they have clear policies and procedures on home working in place which:
- retain the ability to require employees to come into the office or revert to office working if deemed necessary in the future;
- detail what hours the employee is expected to work and shift responsibility for complying with rest breaks etc to the employee;
- ensure comparable home working pay and benefits to office based employees, for example should homeworking employees be compensated or alternative arrangements put in place where they miss out on office worker perks;
- define claimable home working expenses;
- provide appropriate work equipment, which the business retains access and control to, together with the ability to recover items and/or service items;
- maintain IT/confidential information/data security;
- encompass issues that may arise from working from home
- address reporting, appraisals, training and promotion.
Employers also need to be prepared to deal with potentially more flexible working requests from existing employees which may encompass some home working.
At Sampson Coward we can assist with reviewing your existing contracts, policies and procedures and help draft appropriate clauses, policies and procedures to ensure you have documentation and processes in place to manage an existing or future work force based at home. In addition, we can help you address flexible working requests.