Coronavirus and Working From Home

Coronavirus and Working From Home: the Government are strongly suggesting that anyone that can work from home should do so. At the end of this article you will find a link to download a copy of my homeworking policy for you to implement that provides clear guidelines about who is eligible and also establishes how you expect them to perform while they’re working remotely.

Social Distancing

Current government advice is for everyone to try and stop unnecessary contact with other people – ‘social distancing’. This includes:

  • working from home where possible
  • avoiding busy commuting times on public transport
  • avoiding gatherings of people, whether in public, at work or at home

Employers should support their workforce to take these steps. This might include:

  • agreeing to more flexible ways of working, for example changing start and finish times to avoid busier commuting times
  • allowing staff to work from home wherever possible
  • cancelling face-to-face events and meetings and rearranging to remote calling where possible, for example using video or conference calling technology

Working From Home

Those who have 26 weeks service and have not made a statutory request in the last 12 months have a statutory right to request flexible working. This can include a request to work from home. If this is the case, you should know you have a legal duty to consider it. However, there’s no legal obligation to agree to the request.
Work from home policy template

Some staff members may have already approached you about the possibility of working from home. If you’re open to it, then you’ll need to draft some ground rules, but where do you start? To help you out I’ve provided a sample homeworking policy template. You can refer to it to see what will be involved in allowing staff to work remotely, as it’s a bit more complicated than making sure they have a working laptop and internet connection.

Where work can be done at home, you should:

  • ask staff who have work laptops or mobile phones to take them home so they can carry on working
  • arrange paperwork tasks that can be done at home for staff who do not work on computers
  • pay the employee as usual
  • keep in regular contact with the employee
  • confirm the arrangement in writing

You MUST have a flexibility clause in the contract of employment such as ‘we can require you to work within a reasonable distance of the normal work place’. I can review your Contract of Employment and Employee Handbook and provide a written report detailing where your contract and employee handbook will need updating. You will receive your report within 5 working days of sending me your contract and employee handbook.

Can an employer direct people to work from home (where that is possible) as a precaution?
Where it is possible for employees to carry out their work from home, this will be a reasonable instruction by the employer. The employee will continue to receive their normal pay.

Can an employer direct people not to attend work if they suspect they should be self-isolating?
If there is an identified risk that an employee may have been exposed to COVID-19, then it is reasonable, in light of an employer’s duty to protect the health and safety of other employees, that you would wish to keep that employee away from the workplace until the risk has passed.

If you send an employee home for a reason falling within government self-isolation advice, it is likely that you should treat the employee as being on sick leave and pay them SSP or (if applicable) contractual sick pay. Alternatively, if the employee is able to work from home you should allow this and continue to pay normal pay.

What about self-isolators who are not displaying symptoms?
Is it reasonable for an employer to instruct an employee who self-isolates for 14 days because they are living in a household with someone with symptoms but are themselves asymptomatic to go on sick leave? On the flip side can an asymptomatic self-isolator insist they be allowed to work from home?

In such a case, the employee is deemed incapable under the Government guidance. Does such an employee need to be treated as on sick leave and so paid in accordance with the SSP? Probably. Or can they work from home (where this is possible) and receive full pay? Possibly by agreement. The best scenario, if the employee could work from home, is to ask them how they would prefer to proceed in the short term and then review the situation with them regularly. These are uncertain times.

Working From Home Policy

My Working From Home Policy that provides clear guidelines about who is eligible and also establishes how you expect them to perform while they’re working remotely. Attached to the Working from Home Policy is an Agreement that you can adapt to confirm the working from home arrangements with your employee and covers:

  • Reporting relationship
  • Pay
  • Job duties
  • Hours of work
  • Rest breaks
  • Sickness
  • Visits to the employees home
  • Performance management
  • Visits to the employees home
  • Equipment and materials
  • Telephone and internet accounts
  • Stationery and postage
  • Security
  • Health and safety issues
  • Insurance

To download the Working From Home Policy complete your details below and an email containing the document will find it’s way to your inbox:

Download the Working From Home Policy Now!

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Coronavirus and Working From Home