Do employers have health and safety obligations to homeworkers? HMRC has updated its employer tax rules to cover the cost of providing or reimbursing the cost of homework equipment for workers working from home due to coronavirus, including introducing a temporary exemption allowing employers to refund income from tax-exempt home office equipment and network cards until 5 April 2022. Detailed instructions can be found here and here. Employers must continue to comply with the cleaning, ventilation and social services requirements of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations, 1992 or the Construction Design and Management Regulations, 2015 to control occupational health and safety risks. Please note that this is an overview of the law and is not legal advice and each case depends on its own specific facts. With the lifting of remaining coronavirus-related restrictions in the UK, there is no longer an obligation for those who can work from home to continue to do so. However, as we`ve seen, the past couple of years have shown many people that they can just as easily do their work from home and have a better work-life balance. A YouGov poll conducted at the end of January found that 71% of people preferred to work from home and 58% felt more productive. While some employers have been flexible, others, like Goldman Sachs, have insisted that employees return to the office and commute to work daily. Do they have the right to do so? Simon Rice-Birchall, an employment law expert at Eversheds Sutherland, says people who don`t show up for work shouldn`t expect to be paid.
Should we change employees` existing contracts to reflect the status of working from home? Employees will use their own heating, lighting, broadband and sometimes telephone lines when working from home, but it will be difficult to quantify how much is used for business purposes. Employers are not required by law to reimburse workers for these expenses, but they may be pressured to allow workers to recover some of these expenses. Employers who decide to cover (part of) these costs should review their spending policies to cover these costs. Do you have the legal right to work from home? Can you insist on working four days a week for the same salary? What happens if your employer refuses? In this blog post, we look at what UK law says about your right to flexible working and the reality of the situation many employers and employees face. Working from home remains the most effective way to reduce exposure to the virus in the workplace and, at the very least, employers should follow the national government`s instructions and guidelines on working from home. Details on the latest advice from the 4 countries can be found here: As a last resort, when faced with a hazardous working environment that cannot reasonably be avoided, every worker has the right not to suffer any disadvantage if he leaves his place of work or refuses to go to his place of work (or to take other appropriate measures), if he has reason to believe that there is a risk of being exposed to serious and imminent danger (section 44 of the Employment Rights Act 1996). There are additional isolation and testing precautions for close contact with individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19. If a contact tracing agency in your country has advised you to self-isolate, you must comply with their isolation requirements. Even before the pandemic, companies were finding that flexible work arrangements allowed them to retain qualified employees and reduce hiring costs, reduce absenteeism and better respond to changing market conditions.
Since then, market forces have reinforced these considerations: another recent international survey found that up to 72% would leave if they were not satisfied with their company`s workplace rules. As with any long-term or potentially persistent intermittent illness, employers will want to consider whether adjustments can be made to the employee`s role so that they can perform it full-time or part-time. Alternatively, the employer may need to consider whether the employee could be placed in another role that they could perform, perhaps because there were more opportunities to work from home or flexible work schedules. This is particularly important because as long as COVID is a long-term illness, the employee may have a disability within the meaning of the Equality Act 2010. As a result, employers may need to prove that they have fulfilled their obligations under the law, including the obligation to make reasonable adjustments. Ultimately, however, as with any long-term illness, it may be necessary for the employer to consider terminating the employee`s employment, but before doing so, the employer will want to ensure that they have taken all reasonable steps before being terminated. Employees who work from home and work the same number of hours must receive the same amount of money for the work they do, under UK work from home laws. The short answer is yes. However, the exact type of assessment depends on the type of work done at home. Employers may want to consider, in accordance with their legal obligations, how best to support their employees and enable them to follow these guidelines as much as possible. In many cases, workers who were previously classified as exempt from self-isolation must now self-isolate if they are in close contact.
If a person who must self-isolate cannot work from home, they may receive statutory sick pay if they meet the eligibility criteria. As mentioned earlier, many employers are updating or implementing (non-contractual) work-from-home policies that consolidate many of the above areas into a single document. Employers should constantly review and update their work-from-home policies as companies` experience with working from home develops. Those who cannot work from home should continue to work – for example, to access equipment needed for their role or if their role is to be done in person. The `Coronavirus: How to stay safe and help prevent the spread` guidelines have been updated to reflect the latest guidelines in England. Another consideration is that any employee who has more than 26 weeks of service is entitled to apply for flexible work under section 80F of the Employment Rights Act 1996, which may include an application to continue working from home. While employers are not required to accede to such requests, they must review them and follow the appropriate procedure (see Aca`s Flexible Labour Code). Then let`s move on to the reasons why the employee doesn`t want to come back. This may be due to workplace safety concerns from a COVID-19 perspective. Provided that the employer can demonstrate that he has taken all appropriate health and safety measures, he should normally be able to insist on return. If the employee has an underlying medical condition which means they are susceptible to COVID-19 and/or cannot be vaccinated, special precautions should be taken to ensure that the employee continues to work from home, particularly as they may have a disability as defined by the Equality Act 2010.
In this case, the obligation to make the appropriate adjustments arises. Regardless, people with disabilities, in addition to COVID-19-related issues, may have found that there are benefits to their well-being and ability to work from home. Here, too, the question arises as to whether this is a sensible adjustment to allow the worker to continue working from home. If you are pregnant, your employer is required to carry out a workplace risk assessment and, if necessary, consider redeployment and maximise the potential for working from home. If adjustments to your work environment and role are not possible and no other work can be found, you should be suspended on paid leave. In terms of data and IT, it would make sense to address data and information security issues related to remote work, as well as the need to address monitoring or other new ways of handling personal data due to the use of remote work software. One of the questions traditionally raised by employers with regard to working from home has been how best to monitor productivity or the quality of results and enable effective monitoring. Some employers, concerned that employees will not be able to “log out”, may also want to know what hours employees are working. You can check the current position and timeline for the country in which you work: the law seems increasingly outdated, although it can still catch up.