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Do you know your responsibilities when working from home

Thursday 5th November 2020

The official COVID guidelines are asking people who can, to work from home. For many, this is a very viable option for employees and employers who are remaining open for business. This short article sets out some of the key employer and employee responsibilities whilst working from home so could be useful for SHEQ managers that are currently risk assesments. Further guidance and regulations is available from the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS), and that guidance expands on employer and employee responsibilities in different areas of work. It states that employers and employees should be practical, flexible and sensitive to each other's situation when working from home because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Employer Responsibilities

ACAS states that 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 and not assuming a role cannot be based at home
  • 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

It is clear that a considerable support network is needed to ensure full cooperation and compliance by all parties involved. Guidance also covers a variety of other workplace topics, including equipment and health and safety. By law, employers are individually responsible for the health and safety of all employees, including those working from home. During the coronavirus pandemic, it's very unlikely that employers can carry out usual health and safety risk assessments at an employee's home, given the unique circumstances of the pandemic and the relevant government guidelines. However, an employer should still check that:

  • 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

Furthermore, there may also be a case of equipment malfunction through use at home. Employers should check the details of their insurance to make sure they're covered for an employee working from home if they're using business equipment. It also needs to cover them against a claim by a third party. 

Employee Responsibilities

Employees have a responsibility to take reasonable care of their own health and safety. Anyone working from home should keep in regular contact with their manager. They should also tell their manager about:

  • any health and safety risks
  • any homeworking arrangements that need to change

If an employee also has some work tasks that can be done safely away from their home, they should make sure they have access to the right equipment for those duties. For example, this might include having your work laptop or desktop computer with you. Along with this technical equipment comes knowledge of the internal systems included within the product. Lastly, employees should check there are no issues with them working from home. They can do this by confirming with their home insurer, mortgage provider or landlord.


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We hope this article has been helpful

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