Homeworking - The new normal

Monday 18th May 2020

Most businesses have had to quickly adapt to people working from home and for those that may have been previously against it have found that it’s not as bad as they thought – working from home may be the new normal for lots of people even when COVID-19 passes. Those benefits can include:

● reduced overhead costs;

● increased productivity

● better motivation

● skills retention

● team flexibility

● robustness to external disruptions

You need to account for the negative factors that home working can have such as loss of control and changes to team dynamics, dependence on technology, trust in staff and data security – but these can be overcome.

Now that the “emergency” steps have been taken to sort out an immediate response to the lock down businesses should now be thinking about their long term responsibilities to and needs from homeworking staff.

You may need to make changes to the contract of employment.

You will want to include specific provisions regarding the care, use and recovery of company property.

You need to consider the impacts homeworking has on data protection and confidentiality as well – your home working policy/agreement should address these

You are still responsible for an employee’s health and safety at work at home so you need to carry out appropriate risk assessments of work activities and these should also include the impact of homeworking on mental wellbeing. You remain responsible for the equipment that you supply. There is no obligation on you to provide the equipment necessary for home working but from a practical point of view, you may need to – such as where you are requiring staff to work from home in this current situation.

Employees may be able to claim certain tax reliefs as a result of having to work from home.

You should consider documenting your requirements and the employee’s obligations in a Homeworking Policy/Agreement. For assistance with this please contact a member of our Employment Law Team on 01384 811 811