The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) has set out the rights and responsibilities of employers and employees when working from home, in response to government advice for many workers to stay away from the office.
The guidance says that employers are still responsible for health and safety, providing the necessary equipment for work and making sure employees follow the law on working hours, amongst other things.
Acas’s advice says that, apart from working from home temporarily, the usual terms and conditions of employment still apply to employees and consequently pay should remain the same if they are working their usual hours.
According to the advice, employers are also responsible for providing the equipment and technology needed for an employee to work from home. To achieve this, Acas says the employer should:
- discuss equipment and technology with the employee
- agree what's needed
- support the employee to set up any new equipment or technology
Where an employee might be taking on childcare responsibilities during working hours, the advice recommends that employers should be sensitive and flexible towards the employees’ situation.
It also suggests that employers and employees may be able to agree a more flexible homeworking arrangement which could involve working different hours, reducing work targets or even agreeing that the employee may not be able to work a full day or a full week.
Acas notes that the same approach may be needed if an employer is caring for someone else, for example, an older relative or someone who is ill.
On insurance, the guidance highlights the need for employers and employees alike to consider the implications of working from home.
For employers, Acas recommends that they check the details of their insurance to make sure they are covered for an employee working from home if they are using business equipment. Employers should check insurance also covers them against a claim by a third party. Employees should check there are no issues with them working from home, with their home insurer, mortgage provider or landlord.
Acas Chief Executive, Susan Clews, said: “The coronavirus outbreak is impacting all of our working lives at the moment. The Government’s public health advice is to work from home where possible to help prevent the spread of the virus within the wider community.
“Employers and staff who are following this advice may be home working for their very first time and unsure about their rights or how to best manage the situation.
“Our new advice offers practical advice around homeworking that includes managing staff mental health, handling childcare responsibilities and dealing with remote working systems.”
The full report can be read at https://www.acas.org.uk/working-from-home