Whilst government advice to work from home is likely to continue until at least Easter, Ben Healey from Greystone Legal answers some frequent questions regarding employees WFH.
Do my employees have to WFH?
Employees should only attend their workplace when they cannot reasonably work from home. Employers should take “every possible step” to facilitate their employees working from home, including providing suitable IT and equipment to enable remote working.
Can I make it compulsory for employees to WFH?
Some employment contracts have a term requiring an employee to work from home in certain circumstances. It may be argued that requiring employees to work from home is within the scope of a reasonable management instruction, particularly if any additional costs are borne by the employer. Imposing home working arguably constitutes a variation of the contract requiring employee consent and so it is always best to get the employees agreement in writing.
Do I need to carry out a health and safety risk assessment?
Yes. An employer is responsible for an employee’s welfare, health and safety, “so far as is reasonably practicable”. Employers must conduct a suitable and sufficient risk assessment of all the work activities carried out by their employees to identify hazards and assess the degree of risk, even when WFH.
How can I manage productivity?
If an employee’s productivity begins to decline, it is a good idea to try and address the issue before it becomes a serious problem. Employers should be clear about their working hours, especially any core hours when they should be at work. Employers should also detail what their expectations are of any employee and how their productivity will be measured.
A well-drafted Homeworking Policy will help protect the employer’s position and ensure that the employer maintains their employees productivity.
Partner, Greystone Legal