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Home Working – The Legal Implications for Employers

Home Working – The Legal Implications for Employers
18 September 2020 | Updated 20 October 2020
 

As parts of the UK experience tighter COVID-19 restrictions and others prepare for a second lockdown, what are the legal implications of ongoing home working measures?

The latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) data reveals that 62 per cent of adults reported commuting to work last week compared to 38 per cent in May. However, regional lockdowns, the threat of a national #Lockdown2 and potential anxiety around the new rule of six may mean more employees heading back in the direction of working from home.

Claudia Gerrard, from law firm The Legal Director, spoke to ThisWeekinFM to offer some advice on what employers should be aware of if their staff will be working from home regularly.

 

Claudia Gerrard’s Tips for Employers who Have Homeworkers

 

  1. The starting point is to ensure that the home environment is suitable for homeworking, which is akin to the employer’s obligation to provide a safe office environment. Potentially, working at a dining room table or sitting on a couch could cause long term health issues and, in turn, could result in an employer failing to provide a safe system of working. Carrying out a homeworking health and safety assessment and documenting that assessment could help an employer meet their legal obligation. It is also useful evidence if a claim is made against an employer.
  2. If any equipment is provided to a homeworker, clarify whether the company insurance policy covers that equipment when being used in a home environment. If it doesn’t, there is a possibility that the employer will have to pay for a replacement in the event that the equipment is lost or stolen.
  3. If a homeworker can access confidential company data, an employer needs to make them aware that such data must not be shared with or be accessible by anyone else – including the homeworker’s family and friends. Also additional security methods might be required, such as passwords or two-stage authentication.
  4. In addition, if the homeworker has access to any personal data, the employer should carry out a data privacy impact assessment (sometimes also referred to as data protection impact assessment, ) to consider the GDPR implications of homeworking. Breach of GDPR could result in significant fines for a company, coupled with adverse publicity.
  5. As a general point, contracts of employment and company policies should be updated to reflect homeworking and the matters mentioned above, as well as whether working from home will continue once the country reaches a ‘New Normalcy’.

 

Picture: A photograph of Claudia Gerrard

Disclaimer:

Please note that the information and any commentary on the law contained in this article is provided for information purposes only. Every reasonable effort is made to make the information and commentary accurate and up to date, but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by the author or the publisher.

The information and commentary does not, and is not intended to, amount to 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 and not to rely on the information or comments in this article.

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 18 September 2020

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