Many employers in the United Kingdom are implementing policies allowing staff to work with flexibility. Therefore, we would advise implementing and updating polices regularly is important. When these polices have been rolled out, obtaining feedback will be quite useful to ensure that they achieve the companies aims. Over the years, employers who have less flexibility with agreed working patterns find it difficult to retain and recruit staff particularly when other businesses are offering flexibility.
Health and safety
Employers remain responsible even when staff are working remotely from home therefore employers need to ensure steps have been taken to prevent breaching UK health and safety regulations.
- ensuring equipment provided have had electrical tests done.
- ensuring employees are able to cope under normal stresses and switch off from work.
- being able to provide or advise employees about good working environments i.e., desks, chair etc.
- taking regular screen breaks.
- having clear start and finish times.
Even though lockdown restrictions have eased, employers need to ensure their employees have taken reasonable steps on how to remain covid secure therefor to avoid employment claims due to health and safety grounds.
With any form of monitoring, it essential that all employees know what you are monitoring and the purposes of it as it has the potential to become intrusive.
It is important to consider what you need to monitor and being cautious and keeping this to a minimum. Communication is key when carrying out monitoring and ensuring employee polices such as privacy and protection policies are up to date.
Security should be carefully considered with a hybrid working arrangements. Security matters such as for example how hard copy documents should be disposed, who has access to computer equipment, the data that can be removed from the workplace and how it should be stored need to be considered.
As mentioned, data protection policies may need to be updated as the laws in the UK are changing at a rapid pace.
Managing performance remotely is likely to be difficult than managing it in person. This in mind it may be worthwhile to include provisions in remote working and performance management policies to allow senior members to require attendance in the workplace if required standards are not being met. Also, there is a need to consider how training can effectively take place when working from home.
Staff need to also be aware they may be subject to additional scrutiny on their whereabouts and work output if managers are no longer physically able to see. Communication in this area is key additional scrutiny can be perceived as lack of trust and confidence in their ability unless carefully managed.
There is a risk that those who are working from home may consider that they should keep working, rather than resting and taking time off as they may think they are already ‘at work’ as they don’t need to travel into the office. Working from their bed could become commonplace therefore employers need to make clear to staff that if they are genuinely unwell, they should still report absence and take time off to recover in the normal way.
It may be sensible for employers to include provisions within hybrid working policies that the employers can remove the ‘privilege’ of home working if absence levels exceed expected levels and should be updated accordingly.
Domestic violence and abuse
During the pandemic that has been a rise of domestic violence and abuse and difficult for some people to get away from the person abusing them. Therefore, employers have a legal duty of care towards their employees and should look out for signs accordingly:
- look out for signs of domestic abuse
- respond appropriately
- support someone who is experiencing domestic abuse
- keep a record of incidents at work and when employees report domestic abuse, and any actions taken
Guidance on how to look for signs on domestic abuse can be found on the UK government website: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/domestic-abuse-how-to-get-help
If you are a business and need advice or your policies reviewed, please contact our team of specialist employment solicitors for HR consultancy advice today.
Call us on 0330 221 0684 or email [email protected].
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January 2024 Newsletter
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