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The developing Coivid-19 situation over the last few weeks and school closures across the UK have meant that many businesses have had to very quickly adapt in order to keep running effectively.

 

For a lot of office-based businesses, employees are being asked to, or are requesting to work from home in order to protect themselves, loved ones and to juggle their childcare commitments.

 

If you are an organisation that doesn’t typically facilitate staff working from home on a regular basis, you may find yourself lost at where to start with the multitude of issues that remote working can throw up for a business.

 

In this blog we will take a look at some of the practical and legal issues around staff working from home and provide you with some ideas that you can quickly put into practice.

 

Considerations for Employees Working from Home

 
  • Home Working Policy. Many companies may not have one of these unless they already operate flexible or remote working as standard practice. A home working policy is a useful document to have in your suite of HR policies to ensure continuity, give guidance and set out expectations. If you do not have one, now is a good time to consider putting one together. We can assist you with this if you do not have the time or knowledge to do so.
 
  • Technology & Equipment. Ensure that employees have access to all the resources they will need whilst home-working. Employees will need access to certain systems that you use along with compatible computers, internet connection and access to IT support should they run into any difficulties that prevent them from working.
 
  • Data Protection. The risk of leaking valuable information is increased when you have people working remotely off different servers and connections. Consider how you will protect your company and/or client data. It may be worth considering providing staff with a refresher training session to ensure they are competent when dealing with confidential information.
 
  • Communication. It is vital to maintain a clear line of communication with your workers whilst they are isolating or working from home. Set out from the beginning how you expect employees to contact you and keep in touch throughout their time away from the office. Obtain employees permission to share their mobile number with others and ensure they know how to get in touch with their line manager in the event of an emergency.
 
  • Trust. You would hope that you could trust your employees to continue to work as hard as they do in the office when they are at home, but many employers have reservations about home working as they cannot trust that their workforce will not take their foot off the gas. In times like this, many employers will have to trust that their staff will be able to work from home in order for their business to survive. Part of your interview process and relationship with your staff should determine trust between both the employer and the employee. Clarity about expectations and communication is key to aid trust. It is acceptable to ask that your team check in each day, attend a virtual meeting or keep a log of hours worked and tasks completed.
 

  • Supporting your staff remotely. It is important that you can still supervise your workers when they are not physically in the office. Think about how you will check quality of work, sign off documents and ensure that your workforce are managing their workloads, coping with stress or sickness during this time. If home-working continues for lengthy periods of time you will need to give thought to how you will appraise and train your staff without being in the office.
 
  • Health and Safety. All employers regardless of size have a duty of care for their employee’s health and safety. How can you fulfil this duty when your staff are working from home? You should complete a risk assessment of their duties, typically if they are able to work from home this will be low risk, however it is worth checking their IT equipment is safe and asking your staff to complete a desk assessment to ensure their home working space is suitable.
 
  • Check your insurance. Businesses should check that their insurance covers employees working from home and also any equipment or resources belonging to the company being used off-site.
 
  • Reminder on policies. Working outside of the workplace can feel very different to working in your usual work premises. It is therefore good practice to remind staff of your working policies and procedures to ensure that they to work and behave in the expected manner. If you have a staff intranet you can signpost them to the relevant policies or include links in your home working policy document.
 

If your business needs any assistance with staff working from home or any other HR / employment law issues that arise during this pandemic, then please get in touch with our expert Employment Law Team.

 

We continue to work either remotely or from our office and will be able to take your call on our usual switchboard number 01256 844888 or email us an enquiries@lambbrooks.com and we will endure to deal with your enquiry as quickly as possible.

 

Other articles you may be interested in reading:

April Employment Law Changes

Coronavirus: What Employers Should be Doing to Protect Their Staff

Parental Bereavement Leave: What Employers Need to Know

   

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice.  The law may have changed since this article was published.   Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.