Homeworking: A guide for employers

Homeworking is a reality for the majority of employers now, as they adapt their business to the coronavirus outbreak. For some, this is a new way of working and brings questions over how to implement it effectively.

These are areas to consider:

Providing equipment

Some staff may have their own computer, laptop and phone that may be able to be used in an emergency situation, but employers should also consider supplying equipment to facilitate efficient working from home. If an employee does not wish to use their own equipment, an employer is likely to hold this as a reasonable request in the current circumstances and if refused, it may need to be dealt with as a disciplinary.

Employers also need to consider how best to manage the risks associated with confidential information and data protection.

Health and safety

The employer has a duty to ensure it is providing a safe place to work. This can be easily addressed by asking the employee to check their home address is a safe place to work. The majority will say ‘yes’ and health and safety will not be an issue. In the unlikely event they say ‘no’, you should ask why and consider paying for any small changes if necessary

Employers will need to consider making a payment towards utility costs

Costs for services

Employers will need to consider making a payment towards costs of phone, gas, electric, internet and other utility costs. Most phones have fixed sums per month with no additional costs incurred. It is worth bearing in mind that many employees will have substantial savings on commuting costs as they won’t be paying for petrol or train tickets so some agreement could be made to take account of this.

Monitoring staff

It is obviously more difficult to monitor staff working from home. For the duration of any emergency situation arising from coronavirus, most employers would rather have staff homeworking, doing something, rather than doing nothing at all. The majority are going to be grateful for their ability to work from home and will been keen to work as hard as they can to help the business in difficult trading conditions. It is in everybody’s best interests to be as flexible as possible.

Homeworking policy

Employers should consider implementing a homeworking policy, which would deal with a lot of the above and other essential homeworking requirements.

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