A lasting legacy of lockdown has been the movement from the traditional workplace to increased home working. In some cases, workers may now be entirely home based but the more common situation has seen a mixture of home and office-based working often referred to as ‘hybrid’ or ‘agile’ working.
For some employees, this will be a welcome move with increased flexibility facilitating a better work-life balance. However, there may be some people who are keen to return to the office and they may not welcome the imposition of home-based working.
The best approach is for employers to discuss their proposals and consult with workers about any changes. If workers have concerns these should be discussed to see what, if any, accommodations can be made.
It is also important to ensure that consideration is taken of any potentially discriminatory impact of any hybrid working arrangements.
Employers should consider creating a hybrid/agile working policy, if they do not already have one, so that everyone is clear about the expectations and responsibilities of this working arrangement. For example, core working hours should be made clear as well as who is responsible for equipment and costs.
It is also important to remember that the same health and safety duty of care applies whether a worker is based at home or in the workplace. In particular, employers should ensure that they check in with home workers regularly and make sure they are taking the required breaks from work. There is a real risk that with a ‘home-based office’ workers may not ‘log out’ in the same way and this can result in an increase in workplace related stress. If a worker is regularly emailing outside of their core hours, this should be a red flag.
It is also important to remember that, if performance or conduct issues arise, these should be tackled consistently between home and office-based staff. Just because a worker is working remotely it does not mean that they are exempt from the same standards at work. Issues should be raised with employees and dealt with in the same professional manner as they would be for office-based staff.
Likewise, a worker who takes up a hybrid or home-based working option should not be subjected to any detriment for doing so and should be given the same promotion, progression and training opportunities as office-based staff.
If you have any questions about hybrid or home-based working, or any other employment law matter, then please do not hesitate to contact our employment team on 0191 232 3048 or email email@example.com.