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Homeworkers – good or bad for your business?

More and more people are now working from home and as technology improves, it is a trend that is set to rise, according to recent statistics.

And whilst there are considerable benefits for employers there are also some drawbacks, not to mention some important legal points to take on board.

The pros

Allowing some of your employees to work from home has some definite plus points - reduced overhead costs, less travel-to-work- time hence increased productivity and better staff retention by enabling those with family responsibilities to continue in their role.

It can also increase flexibility - employees can work a longer day to suit them - and thus improve service. In addition, seasonal work can be managed more easily.

The cons

It can seem harder to keep an eye on your workforce and maintain morale and team spirit. Many employers fear that homeworkers don't put in the hours - but this is often a misplaced concern as research shows they often actually work harder than they should.

Getting the legal side right

Employers have a duty of care to all their employees to ensure that their home working environment complies with all current Health and Safety legislation.

Inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive have the right to visit homeworkers at any time. Therefore, there are some important steps to follow:

  • Carry out a risk assessment of the employee's home to ensure it is suitable for the tasks the homeworker will be asked to do;
  • Don't allow homeworking to begin until all problems identified in any assessment are put right. Once the homeworker's home has been approved as safe, it is their own responsibility to keep it that way and carry out any necessary repairs;
  • Ensure that the part of the home set aside for business use has sufficient lighting and a suitably configured desk and chair;
  • Make sure any additional equipment supplied is in good condition, suitable for purpose and regularly inspected to keep it in good repair. Having said that, there is no obligation for an employer to provide extra equipment for homeworking.

Homeworking is not for everyone and to make sure it works for both employer and employee, it is vital to draw up a homeworking policy.

Regular staff reviews and good communication with homeworkers is also important to reduce possible feelings of isolation, loneliness and problems maintaining a work/life balance - all issues potentially leading to stress.

For more information contact Bridget Juckes or Joanne Turner