Staff Benefits & Homeworking
If you offer on-site benefits as part of your employment contracts you must offer those benefits to homeworkers too. Failure to do so can result in discrimination allegations and breach of contract.
Ensure, for example, that they have access to work related benefits (such as the staff canteen or workplace gym) even though they may not use them regularly.
Public liability insurance
Check your employer’s liability insurance covers employees working from home. Make sure that any lack of action does not invalidate the insurance.
Health and safety at work extends to the home
As an employer, you are responsible for the health, safety and welfare of your employees. You must exercise all reasonable means of ensuring this.
- Conduct risk assessments on homeworking environments
- Create a policy for regularly reviewing home environments
Data protection and security
Most homeworking employees move data (or devices that can access that data) into public spaces. That opens up the risk of data being mislaid. Many breaches have occurred from documents being left on trains, USB sticks falling out of pockets, or laptops being stolen.
But you can’t just monitor all your employees’ personal dealings. They have the right to privacy.
As the Article 29 Working Party states: “Technologies that monitor communications can […] have a chilling effect on the fundamental rights of employees.”
Stay compliant by setting clear boundaries and responsibilities for all parties. Carry out a risk assessment of the data protection implications of homeworking. This would include consideration of the following:
- Access to the employee’s computer and home
- Encryption and data transfer
- Storage of data
Employees working from home does not change their tax status. You still deduct income tax and national insurance contributions as normal.
However, you may advise the employee:
- to check any potential council tax liability due to homeworking;
- that some of their homeworking expenses may be tax-deductible;
- if computer equipment provided by the employer is used for anything more than “insignificant” private use, a tax charge may arise.
Reporting and performance reviews
Out of sight does not mean out of mind. If you are implementing homeworking, you need to review performance and quality policies. Employees working from home can feel isolated and without support. This can affect morale and company culture.
Under the Working Time Regulations 1998, time spent travelling to work does not count as “working time”.
However, where the employee’s normal place of work is their home and they travel to their employer’s premises or to see clients/customers, this could count as “working time”.
You will need to ensure that homeworkers do not exceed the 48-hour limit on their working week when travel is taken into account (or that they have opted out of the maximum hours’ cap).
Mortgage provider consent
Remind your homeworker that they must have consent from their mortgage provider to work from home.
Remember…Equip your staff
There is no legal obligation on an employer to provide the equipment for homeworking. But it only benefits your business to make sure your staff have the tools they need to do the job.
Most employers will provide basic equipment at least. This usually means providing a phone and computer.
If the employee will be using their own computer equipment, agree on whether or not you will pay for maintenance, repairs and software updates.