“Swapping the office for the home can allow for a more attractive work / life balance and save on travel costs and rent, which in the current economic climate is an important factor. However the consequences you could face if you don’t consider the legal issues connected with home working are substantial” says Sikin Andela, partner and employment lawyer at Glovers. “It’s important to remember that employers are responsible for the health, safety and welfare of their employees, regardless of where they’re working – even if it’s their own home.”
The legal issues that businesses must consider include amending employment contracts and insurance provisions and setting up a formal home working policy and manual. In addition employers may need to carry out a risk assessment of the employee’s home and make sure the equipment and environment is hazard free. “Failure to do this could leave employers responsible for any subsequent medical problems that are a result of a poor working environment or unsafe working practices” comments Andela.
Bosses also need to make sure that if they decide to monitor their employees working from home that the advantage to the business outweighs the intrusion into workers’ affairs, that the worker is informed and that any information discovered is kept secure and only used for the purpose for which the monitoring was carried out.
Andela adds, “Employers need to remember that home workers are still employees and that the fact that they’re working from home makes no difference to the rights or responsibilities that apply in the office.”