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Working from home: employer obligations

09 April 2020
Working from home: employer obligations

With employers having to switch on remote working almost overnight and employees coming to the end of their third week working from home, many are starting to feel the downside that can come it.

Many questions arising for employers at the moment are what effect is isolation having on employees’ physical and mental health, are employees able to be as productive and do they have access to the necessary equipment?

Employers responsibilities

Even with employees working from home employers are still held responsible for their employees’ wellbeing. This includes all elements of health and safety, both mental and physical.

It is unlikely that an employer can carry out the usual risk assessments at an employee’s home, however, reasonable steps should still be taken to ensure the wellbeing of employees. These include:

  • each employee feels the work they’re being asked to do at home can be done safely
  • employees have the right equipment to work safely
  • managers keep in regular contact with their employees, including making sure they do not feel isolated
  • reasonable adjustments are made for an employee who has a disability

What employers should do

Employers should:

  • talk to their employees and workers about how they might improve working from home arrangements
  • continue to consider which roles and tasks can be done from home – this might involve doing things differently
  • support employees to adjust to remote working
  • consider individual employees’ needs, for example, anyone with childcare responsibilities, a long-term health condition or a disability
  • write down the arrangements that have been agreed so everyone’s clear

Communication with all members of staff is crucial in this time of disjointed uncertainty, whether it by phone, email or video. It is important not to assume.

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