End of Furlough = Back to Work (albeit at home)
Due to the Government announcement on Tuesday dictating that that those who can work from home should refrain from going into the work place, coupled with the end of the job retention furlough scheme, it’s vital that employers undertake risk assessment and issue ‘working from home’ policies and guidance for staff.
Many employees are being asked to revert to the work from home. As an employer you are still required to look after the health and safety of your staff when they are working outside the office. Many business will already have the necessary procedures and policies in place, others will have ‘shut up shop’ in March and will only now be bring staff back to work due to the end of the Furlough scheme.
Over the past couple of months the Government has encouraged the workforce to go back to work where it is safe to do so, unfortunately due to the rise in COVID 19 positive tests the Government has backtracked on this direction and as such some employer maybe underprepared for staff working at home.
Key considerations for employers:
- How will you keep in touch with staff?
- What work activity will staff be doing?
- Can it be done safely?
- What control measures should be put in place to protect home workers?
There is no increased risk from display screen equipment (DSE) for those working at home on a temporary basis so you there is no specific requirement to do a DSE assessment on the home ‘workstation’.
Domestic tables (being used as desks) and chairs are often not at the correct height to work for long periods using a PC. Using a laptop or tablet while sitting in a lounge chair/sofa can create neck and shoulder strain.
Consider the following:
- Breaking up long spells of DSE work with rest breaks
- Avoiding awkward, static postures by regularly changing position.
- Getting up and move around.
- Avoiding eye fatigue by changing focus or blinking from time to time.
The Government have indicated the current measures could be in place for 6 months. It would therefore be sensible to allow staff to take some equipment home. This may include keyboards, mice, monitors risers and lamps.
Stress & Isolation
It is advisable that employers should create good lines of communication between staff. Use video-conferencing platforms so people can see each other rather than just sit on a mobile all day.
There is a greater risks for lone workers with no direct supervision and no one to help them if things go wrong. Home working can cause work-related stress and affect mental health.
It is vital employers keep in touch with staff working from home and encourage communication between all home working staff.
If contact is poor, staff may feel disconnected, isolated or abandoned. Mental health issues will adversely affect employees ability to work!
Walker Rose Solicitors can assist draft your policies and procedures. Check out our employment services here and get in touch today for a free consultation.
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