Post-pandemic, the number of employees working from home has increased substantially. A recent YouGov survey has suggested that 60% of employers have seen an increase in hybrid working and 52% an increase in staff working from home full-time. Working from home, here’s what employers need to know.
All staff can make a flexible working request
Once they have completed 26 weeks of continuous service, employees are eligible to request flexible working, including the right to request to work from home. If accepted, employers are required to agree with employees on a change to their contractual terms and by law are required to conduct a risk assessment of the employees’ working environment (to make sure it is suitable and acceptable for the intended work tasks).
Provide display screen equipment
As remote employees are likely to use display screen equipment (DSE) such as computers and other screen-facing devices, the associated health and safety risks should be monitored regularly (much like in the workplace). DSE can be provided to employees by the employer if they are needed for the employee to complete their working needs. If that occurs, then an agreement between the employee and employer should be made in advance of the homeworking agreement commencing in order to stipulate that the equipment provided is only for business use and that the employee is required to take reasonable care of the equipment, and any faults should be reported promptly.
Check insurance details – employers and employees
Before the homeworking agreement begins, employers should extend their liability insurance to cover home workers. This is in addition to changing other policies regarding the insurance of the work equipment that employees will be using at home. The employee should also make their household insurance provider aware of the new arrangements to prevent their own policy from being deemed invalid.
Think about employee wellbeing
When working from home, staff are likely to have fewer social interactions with co-workers. We know that this can have an impact on mental health. As an employer, you have a responsibility for employees’ health and safety (including their mental health).
To ensure a homeworking employee doesn’t experience feelings of isolation and loneliness, engage in regular open communication. If possible, an emergency point of contact for employees working from home should be established to help them to get the suitable help they need promptly.
Remote workers can also struggle with ensuring a suitable work-life balance and can struggle with working longer hours and struggling to switch off work. To prevent burnout, employers should make sure remote employees are having adequate rest breaks, and that their working hours are clearly defined and followed. Read our guide to avoiding burnout.
Employers will need to consider how they manage performance remotely, which includes annual appraisals. Read our guidance on managing performance remotely or take a look at our tips on how to keep a remote team motivated.
What to include in a homeworking risk assessment
Employers should look at the homeworking area, the electrical safety, the workstations set up and posture, their equipment (chair, display screen, keyboard, furniture, etc), their software, as well as looking at potential stress and emergency arrangements. We’ve put together a free home working risk assessment template for you to download here. You can find more information on the HSE website about managing health and safety.
Get in touch if you would like further information on hybrid or remote working.
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