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14th Nov 2016
With an increasingly mobile workforce and the constant need to streamline your business and reduce overheads, more and more employers are offering their workforce the opportunity to work from home.
There are huge advantages for both employers and their staff, which include a proven increase in productivity and team flexibility and an ability to retain staff who might otherwise have been lost because of family relocation or other responsibilities. Employers geared toward homeworking are also better able to withstand external disruptions caused by transport problems, adverse weather conditions and even terrorist threats.
However, there are reasons why employers might be reluctant to adopt homeworking. Employers are at a greater risk of losing control over their staff which in turn can undermine the organisation’s ethos and culture. The employer’s business may also become overly dependent on new technology, which may be expensive to retain and could lead to a duplication of IT equipment. The employer will also need to learn to “trust” staff who want to work from home as they will not be able to manage them on a day-to-day basis. Furthermore, employers who adopt homeworking are at greater risk of cybercrime, which may include the loss of data through misplaced or stolen IT equipment; the loss or theft of commercially sensitive information and an increased vulnerability to malicious attacks by employees using unsecured Wi-Fi networks at home.
Employers who do decide to embrace homeworking can better protect themselves from potential claims and disputes by developing a comprehensive homeworking policy and by offering all homeworkers a suitable homeworking contract. Other areas that might need to be considered by an employer include additional insurance to cover external IT equipment; the management of household expenses and travel costs and any associated tax implications.
Finally, whilst there is no automatic right to work from home, employment legislation does give employees the right to request flexible working. All qualifying employees (those with 26 weeks’ continuous employment at the date of the request) have a right to request flexible working. Only one request can be made in any 12-month period. A request could include changing the number of hours they work, the times they work or more importantly their location. An employer must deal with any request in a reasonable manner and can only refuse a request based on one of eight possible business reasons. An appeal must also be offered against any final decision.
As with all aspects of employment law it pays to plan ahead and ensure that you have all the right policies and procedures in place with homeworking being no different.
For further information or to obtain a comprehensive homeworking policy or contract call Henry Doswell of Doswell Law on 01233 722942 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Whilst every reasonable effort is made to make the information and commentary contained in this article accurate and up to date, Henry Doswell takes no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it. The information and commentary in this article does not constitute legal advice to any person on a specific case or matter. You are strongly advised to obtain specific, personal advice from a lawyer about your case or matter.
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