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Putting the spotlight on hybrid and home working

Robert Zacal from GA Solicitors discusses the considerations and benefits of working from home after the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns have had a dramatic impact on the workplace. Throughout much of 2020 and 2021 a significant proportion of the nation’s workforce has been working from home.

Many employers and employees have seen benefits to working from home, with numerous employers announcing that they do not propose to return to traditional office working. 

It is likely that many employees will look for some flexibility in their current or future employment. Therefore the existence (or not) of flexibility may become a significant factor in both retention and recruitment. 

Hybrid working can be defined as a blend of working in a central workplace and at home. Homeworking will be employees working exclusively from home. 

Many employers will voluntarily embrace such working models, others may be forced to accept them to retain and attract employees. Either way, there are a number of legal and practical issues to be considered:

Contract of employment

  • Does it allow for home/hybrid working?
  • Can the employer return to exclusive office based work if they are not satisfied the arrangement is working?
  • Where is the employee permitted to work? Just at their home or where they please (e.g. cafes, libraries)?

Confidentiality

  • Are IT systems sufficiently secure?
  • Will employees be required to secure confidential documentation? 
  • How will confidential documentation be disposed of?

Performance monitoring

  • How will employers monitor output?
  • If employers consider monitoring software, employees should be informed.

Health and safety

  • Employers have an obligation to provide a safe working environment.
  • Employers may need to consider providing office equipment and assessing whether an employee’s home is suitable
  • Employers need to give consideration to mental health. Regular online meetings should be considered
  • When the home and workplace become blurred, employees may not switch off and undertake excessive hours.

Home and hybrid working should be embraced and is likely to become a key feature of the employer/employee relationship.

Employers, however, need to think carefully about how to operate such working patterns to retain control of the working relationship. If you need employment advice, please email Robert Zacal at robert.zacal@GAsolicitors.com or call 01752 203500.

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