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What is a Zero Hours Contract?

Home working: The law

Achieving the ideal work/life balance while working toward career advancement can be a tough task particularly as the number of employees who work from home in office-type roles is increasing.

Whether this rise is due to employers considerations of the wellbeing of their employees or a realisation that the way employees live and work are closely aligned, is still a question unanswered.

With various degrees of home working and telecommuting available, we bring you a short guide to home working expectations and methods of maintaining the relationships between employees and employer to maximise efficiency and ensure that neither party is at any disadvantage.

So, what is home working?

This can include everything from working entirely from home - except for infrequent meetings at the workplace or with clients - through to time split between the home and the workplace and working from home only occasionally.

A type of flexible working, home working can be used alongside other arrangements such as working part time, term time or outside of core office hours. However flexible working hours do not have to be used in partnership with home working – both can be used separately.

Are you an employer considering home working for employees?

To maximise employee efficiency, the first thing that should be considered by an employer before implementing home working, is whether said employee is suitable for a role at home – ask does this employee work off their own motivation or do they need inspiration? If it is the latter, home working as an option may not maximise work output.

Will an employee be required to work in a team at all or need equipment to do the job? If so employers will also need to carefully consider this as well as overall cost effectiveness. For instance a portable laptop will require necessary insurance and considerations as to risk factors.

How can employers manage home workers?

If an employer has an employee that works from home, it may prove more difficult than managing an office-based member of staff. However by paying close attention to the following factors, management can be maximised to ensure employee confidence and effective working without supervision:

  • Communication – Because an employee won’t necessarily have as much face to face contact with an employer as their office-based counterparts, it is vital for managers to maintain frequent levels of communication whether through e-mail, telephone or by scheduling future face-to face meetings. Not only will this ensure that jobs are completed correctly, but it will also flag up any problems before they become issues and make an employee feel fully supported.
  • Trust – Making sure that an employee knows what is expected of them by having clear systems of working and policies in place, this is particularly important if an employee is likely to be working with confidential information. Regular communication by both parties will endorse this trust.
  • Training – Just like the training undergone when new employees start a job, employers should make sure that both management and employees are trained in how to effectively work from home and be managed. This will ensure maximum levels of efficiency.
  • Performance management – Employers should put in place scheduled meetings or supervisory reviews, monthly or bi-monthly meetings should be the most effective to assess progress and flag up any problems with the system so changes can be put in place.

Setting up a home working policy – do you know how?

All organisations and businesses should have a clear home working policy to enable employers to refuse or accept a request for home working or manage home working.

This policy should cover what home working clearly means in the capacity of the organisation and what is expected by both management and the employee.

Covering everything from taxation, expenses and security of confidential information right through to reviews and progress meetings the policy should be practical, effective and be consistent with business needs, much like a company’s normal office policy.

Should employers consider health and safety even if the employee is in the comfort of their own home?

All employees have a duty of care towards their employees and this extends to home workers employed by the company. Much like a risk assessment carried out at an employee’s desk, the employer is responsible for carrying out a risk assessment at the employee’s home to assess potential risks that the proposed place of work may hold playing close attention to lighting, space, chair, desk and computer set up and cables.

While employers are responsible for all the equipment that is supplied, once a risk assessment has been carried out, it is up to the employee to rectify any flaws in the home which are highlighted as a risk by the assessment, just as they are responsible for maintaining the health and safety of the home following the assessment.

So is home working effective?

Research has shown that employees report greater job satisfaction when working from home; however it appears that a combination of working from home and an office base can increase productivity and reduce the cost of overheads.

ACAS

Dependant on the type of organisation that you hold, home working may not always be suitable or beneficial though, so careful consideration should be placed on all aspects, for example manual labour jobs don’t often provide suitability for home working.

If you do undertake home working as an employee or employer, make sure that it is reviewed periodically to make sure that it is meeting both business and the employee’s needs.

If you are an employer considering a home working policy, or an employee who would like advice on how to pursue home working arrangements, contact Lanshaws Solicitors.