Here are ten key issues to consider:
Requiring someone previously office-based to work from home is likely to be a fundamental change to their terms and conditions. A permanent change is not the same as a pandemic expedient.
Do you need to consult? Should you survey staff first and get their views? What does consultation really mean?
How do you deal with potential juxtapositions? Some people say their health or disability requires them to work from home. Others suggest their mental health will suffer by continuing to do so. What wellbeing measures might you need?
What impact could hybrid working have on key policies like diversity, equality, bullying and harassment? How do you ensure inclusive working with fair treatment for all staff? Are your managers suitably trained?
What issues might you encounter if you simply impose hybrid working?
You decide you can close a workplace and reduce overheads significantly. But are you walking blindly towards redundancy or constructive dismissal claims?
How do you ensure that those working from home still feel part of the team? That they are not isolated or subjected to ‘not in the office – not in the know’ syndrome? How will you communicate?
Will you face statutory flexible working claims if you refuse to adopt home or hybrid working? What if you required staff to work from home for the last 12 months but now want it to stop? Can you really evidence that it’s ‘unworkable’ any longer?
Hybrid working would be OK for some of your operational areas but not others. Unfortunately, it’s the staff in the unsuitable areas that are keenest. What do you do?
Are your expectations clear? Does it matter where staff live? The specific hours they work? When they stop working? Should they switch off equipment when their shift ends? Do you mean homeworking or can they work remotely anywhere as far as you are concerned?
There are also plenty of tricky operational issues to wrestle with. Does your employer liability insurance cover homeworking? Is there anything in the employee’s lease or mortgage preventing working from home?
Have you considered your ongoing health and safety obligations? Have your staff? What about confidentiality? Data protection? Technical support, security, and insurance for IT equipment and systems?
HMRC introduced a simple tax relief for employees required to work at home during the pandemic. But how do you deal with requests to make financial provision for home workers permanently using their own utilities?
We’ve produced a useful guide to help businesses navigate out of lockdown to support a new hybrid work model.
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