Working from home is often a great solution for employees who are looking for a more flexible style of working. However, employers need to ensure the home workers are properly managed and protected to avoid any employment law issues for their businesses. There are three particular areas to consider from a legal perspective:
Employers have the same Health & Safety responsibilities and duty of care for home workers as they do for their office based employees. Health & Safety risk assessments should be carried out at the start ensuring that workstations are suitable, equipment is fit for purpose and things such as trailing cables should be avoided, thereby minimising the risk of accidents. Electrical equipment should be tested, certified and maintained as would equipment in the office and where necessary; employees should be trained to work safely.
It can be difficult for businesses to motivate home working employees ensure they don’t breach company policies. What should an employer do if they fear an employee is not performing because they are not working their contractual hours? Well as with office based employees, the employer should act in accordance with their disciplinary procedure. Minor disciplinary offences should be dealt with informally through a discussion with the employee concerned; however, if this is not successful then the employer should discipline the individual in line with the disciplinary procedure, ensuring that a full investigation is carried out.
Employers must have Employers’ Liability Insurance which covers its legal liability for personal injury to employees while acting in the course of their employment. The cover must extend, however, to where the employee is working at or from home – most but not all policies do this automatically but employers should check their policy wording to ensure they are covered. It is also sensible to ensure that any Public Liability Insurance, which covers the legal liability of the employer and its employees for injury and/or property damage to third parties, covers situations where the employee is working at or from home.
By ensuring all of these potential issues have been addressed and importantly understood will help ensure that the provision of a home working option for employees can also be beneficial for employers.
About the author
Jen Smith is an Employment Law Solicitor at JMW Solicitors LLP in Manchester.
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