As the UK continues its efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus, widespread working from home has become the new normal for many.
So, what are your legal rights as a homeworker, even if it’s only a temporary arrangement? And what obligations does your employer have towards you?
Wards Solicitors’ highly experienced team of Employment lawyers can guide you through everything you need to know and explain what you should do if your employer isn’t coming up to scratch.
In every situation, employers have a legal duty to take all reasonable and necessary steps to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all their employees, including providing and maintaining a safe system of work, whether they work in the office or from home.
Normally, yes, but at the moment it is may be neither safe nor sensible for your employer to physically carry out a risk assessment at your home.
However, there are still things they should do under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to ensure that all known risks are mitigated.
For example, they could ask you to carry out a self-assessment of your working set-up at home and report back so they can address any issues you pinpoint. Your employer should also regularly check that:
Your manager should be crystal clear on this.
Switching from office to home working can be challenging so setting out exactly how you are expected to work under this new arrangement is critical.
This should include:
Pregnant employees may be at an increased risk of coronavirus and so extra caution should be taken to ensure their safety. This might include avoiding travel on public transport and working from home where possible.
As a result, your employer should make every effort to enable you to do so and this includes temporarily adjusting your working conditions to allow you to work from home.
A survey in June 2020 by the public service union UNISON found that 53 per cent of disabled people working from home during the pandemic said their employer had made no adjustments to support them.
It’s important to remember that your employer is legally bound to carry out a risk assessment, even if that is done remotely and required to make any reasonable adjustments if you experience any disadvantage.
This might include providing you, at your employer’s expense, with whatever aids you might need to do your job or enabling you to take your office equipment home with you.
Talking to your employer directly is usually the best place to start if you feel that home working is adversely affecting your wellbeing in any way.
If you feel unsure about how your legal rights when it comes to home working, or want help challenging a decision at work, please contact Wards Solicitors’ specialist employment lawyers, Joe Nicholls or Matthew Warren.
Posted by: Matthew Warren