Claire Brook, Employment Law Partner at Aaron & Partners, provides an insight into working from home from an employment law perspective
The Government has advised that wherever possible staff should work from home. With the increase of remote and flexible working practices, many employers have been in a position to quickly implement the Government’s instructions.
This current phase of working from home is likely to result in more home working in the future and with this in mind, employers should consider a number of issues arising when authorising and facilitating home working.
Work specific equipment
If an employer provides work specific equipment such as laptops, mobiles or other devices to the employee then they should be made aware that:
- The equipment should be used only for the purposes for which the employer has provided it;
- The employee should take reasonable care of the devices and use them only in accordance with any operating instructions and the employer’s policies and procedures; and
- The employee should make the equipment available for collection by the employer or on the employer’s behalf when requested to do so.
Data security and confidentiality
Just as an employee is subject to confidentiality in the workplace regarding clients and other personal data, this risk is increased when the employee works remotely. It would be advisable for employers to ensure that remote workers are aware of the risks associated with data and client confidentiality when working outside of the workplace.
Employees should be advised that all equipment and information must be kept securely and that they should take all necessary steps to ensure that private and confidential material is kept secure at all times. This is especially important if the employee plans on working in a public space on public internet such as a café or library (when the current restrictions are relaxed).
In addition, employees should be made aware that if they discover or suspect that there has been an incident involving the security of information relating to the employer, clients, customers or anyone working with or for the employer, then they must report it immediately to the appropriate person within the employers company.
Health and safety
Employers owe a duty of care to their employees and this extends to home working. Consider:
- Undertaking a risk assessment and introduce lone working and home working policies.
- Appropriate security measures to protect Data and IT and ensure your Data Protection policies are reviewed and updated accordingly.
- Rules around meetings. In the current circumstances, avoiding meetings “in person” and observe social distancing measures, facilitate secure and confidential video and conference call facilities.
- Provision of personal contact information – consider providing guidance for employees regarding the provision and security of the use of personal contact information e.g. whether or not employees should conduct calls using their personal phone numbers and/or provide clients their home address e.g. to post documents during working from home periods.
- Standards of work expected.
- Provision of points of contact and emergency contacts.
- Providing employees with information regarding insurance and what is and is not covered under the employers’ accident insurance policy.
In addition to these above suggestions, employers should maintain reasonable contact with employees working remotely, listen to any suggestions, concerns or problems that they may have and continually review whether home working is the most appropriate option in the circumstances. This can allow for transparency and support to make remote working a feasible and equally productive option available to both employees and employers.
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