AN EMPLOYEE HAS ASKED TO WORK FROM HOME – WHAT DO YOU NEED TO CONSIDER?
ADVANTAGES OF EMPLOYEES WORKING FROM HOME:
- Less interruptions /increased productivity.
- Increased staff motivation.
- Less sick days taken by staff.
- Reduction in ‘lateness’ due to no commuting time.
- Savings on office space.
- Improvements in health and well-being due to a better work/life balance.
- Improved employee retention - retain working parents with childcare responsibilities.
DISADVANTAGES OF EMPLOYEES WORKING FROM HOME
- Difficulty monitoring performance.
- Possible deterioration in employees' skills and work quality.
- Increase in costs of working from home.
- Problems with staff development - difficulty maintaining staff development and upgrading skills.
- Possible breaches in Data Protection / Confidentiality.
- Increased telecommunication costs
- Decreased staff moral - staff feeling isolated /favouritism if some application are approved and others denied.
When determining whether the right to work from home will be offered to all employees, do not fall into the trap of only offering the choice to the employee you “trust." You may expose yourself to complaints of favouritism or, in some cases, discrimination.
If you have decided against the option of working from home, you must still genuinely consider all requests made by staff under the flexible working regulations. It is wise to have a policy available to staff, advising them of the criteria you consider when assessing such ad hoc home working requests. Without objective criteria, refusals to allow 'home working' can amount to a discrimination claim.
As with most areas of employment law having clear polices, setting out your expectations for your employees, is a must.
If you elect to allow home working for your staff, you'll need to revise your company handbook and formulate policies and procedures for working from home. This can include issues such as hours of work per day or week, preserving confidential information, home office insurance and liability issues, ownership of equipment and content, reporting structures, how to monitor work product and deadlines, any obligations to attend office meetings, flexible working.
AMENDING EMPLOYEE CONTRACTS
An employee's place of work is stated in their written statement/ terms and conditions of employment or contract of employment. If the employee starts working from home on a permanent basis you must amend their employment contract to reflect this change in location. It is further sensible to remind home working employees of Data Protection, confidentiality and security risks.
You are responsible for providing, installing and maintaining all equipment unless the employee uses their own.
Equipment you need to provide may include:
- suitable desk and chair
- lockable filing cabinet, drawers
- PC with office software, anti-virus software, email and broadband internet connection
- business telephone line
- stationary, letter head
Check with your insurance provider, you will probably need to extend your insurance policy to cover equipment used by employees in their homes.
HEALTH & SAFETY
You have the same responsibilities for ensuring the health and safety of your staff, regardless if they are working in your office or at home. Your duties include:
- carrying out a health and safety risk assessment
- ensuring equipment is fit for its purpose
- testing, certifying and maintaining electrical equipment (provided by you)
- ensure your employees are operating computers safely
- making sure lighting levels are appropriate
- avoiding trailing cables to reduce the risks of trips and falls
- ensuring staff are suitably trained to work safely
- keeping records of serious accidents, illnesses or injuries experienced
To get expert Legal Advice on Employment Law, Employee Handbooks and Staff Policies and Business Terms and Conditions give us a call or email.
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