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Home Working – Update 10/12/21

Home working
Home working is essential but there are pitfalls. With thanks to Russell Callendar of Peninsula (Russell.callander@peninsula-uk.com & 07929 743617) whom has followed up, after Thursday 9 December 2021 webinar – for those that could not attend – with practical problems for the employer (you and your client) when your staff work from home, as follows:-

After the announcement, Peninsula are getting queries on which clients need to send their staff home from Monday. The first thing to say on this is that it isn’t law and so employers should follow the Government guidance on this instead.

This is the new Government wording on working from home in England:

“Office workers who can work from home should do so from Monday 13 December. Anyone who cannot work from home should continue to go into work – for example, to access equipment necessary for their role or where their role must be completed in person. In-person working will be necessary in some cases to continue the effective and accessible delivery of some public services and private industries. If you need to continue to go into work, consider taking lateral flow tests regularly to manage your own risk and the risk to others.

Employers should consider whether home working is appropriate for workers facing mental or physical health difficulties, or those with a particularly challenging home working environment.”

 

It seems employers may have some flexibility for keeping some office staff in the workplace with this part: “In-person working will be necessary in some cases to continue the effective and accessible delivery of some public services and private industries”.

Employers will need to consider whether the “effective and accessible delivery of their service” is dependent on people working from the office. Where employers are leaning towards not sending people home because they think that delivery of service is not effective when done from home, they might want to think about:

  • Whether a person fell into the vulnerable or extremely vulnerable categories of individual i.e.whether they needed to shield or were in the category where extra caution should be taken although they weren’t in the shielding category
  • Their overall contribution to the effort to minimise the spread of Covid which may factor into their brand reputation
  • Making sure they are able to dispel any reasonable belief employees may have that their workplace does not pose a serious and imminent risk to them which the employee cannot reasonably be expected to avert i.e. make sure workplace is Covid secure

The above should also be considered by employers whose staff can work from home, but they are wondering whether they want to go through the rigmarole of actually implementing homeworking for what might be a short period (initial indications show it might be 6 weeks but with a review after three weeks), i.e., “Do I have to do it”?

On the other hand, employers who want to send people home need to think about:

 

  • Whether the employee has a suitable environment at home to work in
  • Whether they have expressed concerns during previous enforced homeworking periods about their mental or physical health problems being triggered by homeworking.

Employers should support those who have been negatively affected in terms of mental or physical health in previous enforced homeworking periods and consider allowing them to continue to work in a Covid secure office, after taking all reasonable measures to ensure their safety in other ways, e.g. The commute – let them have a parking space so they can drive to work instead of using public transport.

 

Danger

Section 44 claims – any employer who insists employees must work from the office (which they can do), MUST be 100% sure their current H&S arrangements meet the expectations of the HSE. Any business that insists on employees working from the office but aren’t complying with H&S legislation are at serious risk of Section 44 claims (where an employee claims they have reasonable belief they are not safe at work, or that their H&S arrangements have not been effectively communicated to them) – hence the importance of having written H&S policies and risk assessments. Working from home – Employers need to consider the following – Documentation (H&S policy including home working policy, and risk assessments done), access to competent advice, Training (I recommend E-learning), PAT testing equipment, consider whether employees home insurance covers work equipment. In case anybody (or your client) has any questions please contact Russell.callander@peninsula-uk.com & 07929 743617.

Conclusion

The last point is real for when a home was flooded. I had arranged for office coverage at home – thank goodness. If you take out cover, please check your excess.

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