Home working - the future?
By David Coward
The proportion of workers who work from home has increased substantially since the Covid-19 pandemic and numbers are likely to remain relatively high as employers reconsider their operating models in the light of the pandemic. In future there are likely to be far more hybrid workers who spend part of their time working from home than before the pandemic. The government’s working taskforce has recommended that flexible working should be the default position for all workers post-pandemic
Working from home has benefits and drawbacks for both employers and employees. The benefits include potential reduced overhead costs, increased productivity and better motivation. Disadvantages include potential damage to working culture, reduced collaboration and innovation.
Employers entering into homeworking arrangements or introducing hybrid working will need to address a range of legal and practical issues including:
- Amending contracts of employment to encompass hybrid working.
- Taking measures to protect confidential information.
- Reviewing health and safety and carrying out a risk assessment.
- Providing any equipment that is required to work from home.
- Considering insurance arrangements.
- Adopting different management and supervision models.
The current legal position is that whilst employees do not have a right to change their place of work to work at home, an employer must consider such requests in accordance with the current flexible working legislation. Employees with at least 26 weeks’ continuous employment can make one flexible working request in any 12-month period. Whilst employers are not obliged to agree to flexible working requests, they can only legitimately reject the request on eight specific grounds that include the burden of additional costs, detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand, the inability to reorganise work amongst existing staff or recruit additional staff, the detrimental impact on quality or performance, or the insufficiency of work during periods when the employee proposes to work.