How working from home is becoming key

Tees Business Digital Media Pack

Business solicitor at Tilly Bailey & Irvine Law Firm, Alison Leith, explains how working from home has now become a key part of business plans during lockdown, and how to adapt to it…

COVID-19 has forced employers to consider remote working across all industries and employers’ duties to those working from home has become of increasing importance. Employers should ensure that they comply with their duties to avoid employment claims.

Lockdown meant remote working was implemented without the usual planning. Employers should take the opportunity to review the position and:

  • discuss improving working from home arrangements
  • consider roles that can be done from home
  • support employees to adjust to remote working
  • consider individual employees’ needs, eg childcare responsibilities, long-term health conditions or disabilities
  • document agreed arrangements

Usual health and safety risk assessments cannot be carried out at home. However, an employer should still check:

  • employees feel the work they’re being asked to do at home can be done safely
  • the right equipment to work safely is provided
  • reasonable adjustments are made for employees where appropriate

Employees do have a responsibility to take reasonable care of their own health and safety.

Anyone working from home should keep in regular contact with their manager and highlight any health and safety risks or any arrangements that need to change

Employees may feel pressure to “prove” they are working as hard at home as they would be in the office. Working remotely may take longer due to issues with technology or the lack of immediate support.

Most people are currently experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety. Employers should consider ways of supporting employees’ mental health.

It’s important to ensure that employees take regular breaks to avoid sitting at a computer for too long. Employers should encourage staff to stay mentally and physically active outside of their working hours, eg by cooking, exercise or hobbies.

Consider also:

  • Checking IT systems
  • Setting clear expectations – hours of work, management and measurement of performance
  • Regular communication
  • Pay and terms and conditions of employment
  • Sensitivity and flexibility towards the employee’s situation
  • Childcare responsibilities
  • Expenses
  • Home insurance

For advice relating to employment issues such as furloughing staff, redundancies or making the workplace safe, contact Partner Alison Leith, Head of Tilly Bailey & Irvine’s Employment and Commercial Disputes Team, on aleith@tbilaw.co.uk or speak to a business legal expert on 01740 646031.