How should you manage home workers?
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has announced that at the end of March 2020, it will stop supporting its home workers by paying for their broadband. In contrast, BT gives its home working employees an allowance for an ergonomic chair, a desk and a laptop. It also supplies broadband. BT broadband, of course.
The different approaches highlight the lack of consistency in this area despite 1.7 million people regularly working from home, a number that is set to grow.
Allowing people to work from home can help attract and retain staff, save travel costs and time along with promoting a healthy balance between working and living.
What should you consider?
Who can apply and what factors will you consider when assessing a request? It is a form of flexible working so you may adopt similar rules. You may decide that those with 26 weeks' continuous employment can apply and that the business will consider how it will affect quality and performance along with any additional cost before agreeing. Create a policy that, among other things, says people can ask to work from home, and you will allow it where it is operationally justified, but it is not a contractual right.
Health and safety
Assess your employee's home working arrangements so that you can identify and remove, or at least minimise, any hazards. Do they have a suitable room in which to work? Do they require display screen equipment or other equipment? Obtain their agreement to you carrying out a risk assessment as a condition of the application.
Explain that although they work from home, you will, at times, require them to attend the workplace and other locations for training, team meetings or other business-related matters. Agree who will bear the cost and remind your employee that you expect them to take adequate rest breaks pursuant to the Working Time Regulations 1998.
Your GDPR obligations still apply. Home workers must comply with your data protection policy and take all necessary steps to protect personal data. That includes access by their family and visitors. Protect devices, your network and the transfer of data with adequate encryption.
Mortgage providers and landlords may prohibit residential properties from being used for commercial purposes so your employee should obtain the necessary permission.
Length of the arrangement
Consider a trial period at the start so that you can assess whether the arrangement works. Explain that they will return to being office-based if it fails.
Provide a right for either party to terminate the home working arrangement by giving written notice.