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Employer obligations to employees working at home

It may surprise many smaller employers with staff working from home that they still have health and safety responsibilities. The following notes published by ACAS should be considered:

Employers should:

talk to their employees and workers about how they might improve working from home arrangements
continue to consider which roles and tasks can be done from home – this might involve doing things differently and not assuming a role cannot be based at home
support employees to adjust to remote working
consider individual employees' needs, for example anyone with childcare responsibilities, a long-term health condition or a disability
write down the arrangements that have been agreed so everyone's clear

Health and Safety concerns

By law, employers are responsible for the health and safety of all employees, including those working from home.

Employer responsibilities:

During the coronavirus pandemic, it's very unlikely that employers can carry out usual health and safety risk assessments at an employee's home. However, an employer should still check that:

each employee feels the work they're being asked to do at home can be done safely
employees have the right equipment to work safely
managers keep in regular contact with their employees, including making sure they do not feel isolated
reasonable adjustments are made for an employee who has a disability

If changes are needed, employers are responsible for making sure they happen.

Employee responsibilities:

Employees also have a responsibility to take reasonable care of their own health and safety.

Anyone working from home should keep in regular contact with their manager. They should also tell their manager about:

any health and safety risks
any homeworking arrangements that need to change

Clearly, there is more to consider than simply agreeing that an employee can work from home. The concerns discussed in this article are focused on health and safety issues. Employers and employees will also need to consider tax, internet security and other resourcing issues. We may well consider these additional matters in further posts to this blog.

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