We’re living in unprecedented times. On the one hand it’s a time for a creative approach, trialling and testing new ways of working in preparation for lock down or self isolation. On the other hand we have a UK in panic and disarray. We’ve therefore decided to develop an employers guide to help you during these difficult times.
Coronavirus and Homeworking – An Employers Guide
At the time of writing the Department of Health state some 1,950 people have tested positive for the virus in the UK, although we can’t be sure exactly how many people actually have the virus with testing suspended. There is so much rumour, speculation and propaganda that it’s scary times for employers and the population as a whole.
Coronavirus ‘shutdown’ could last 18 months: Another warning from the experts who triggered Boris Johnson U-turn by telling him 250,000 could die – Daily Mail
Without drastic action, cases could double every five or six days – Metro.co.uk
We’re hearing by the end of the week schools will be closed. University students have already been sent home until September, people are in self isolation, and public services and buildings are closing. So what does this mean for employers?
Our clients are telling us:
- staff are having childcare difficulties as grandparents self isolate;
- non-essential travel is cancelled;
- events and training is cancelled;
- their clients are cancelling;
- they are worried about how to deal with homeworking or lay-offs; and
- they are worried about the future of their businesses.
Let’s Reduce The Panic And Start Planning
It seems lock down is inevitable. Do you have:
- A Homeworking Policy;
- A Homeworker Agreement;
- A Homeworking Risk Assessment?
If the answer is no that is the first action point.
A Homeworking Policy needs to cover:
- The Aims and Benefits of Homeworking;
- How Homeworking Operates in Practice including the company’s definition of Homeworking;
- Flexible Working Applications and Homeworking;
- Equipment and Connectivity;
- Health & Safety;
- Confidentiality, GDPR and Data Security;
- Working Hours;
- Annual Leave and Sickness Absence;
- Finance and Insurance;
- Expenses; and
- Enforced Homeworking.
Use these Policy headings as a checklist of the things you need to consider.
A Homeworking Agreement is in place to protect and provide clarity for both employer and employee. It enables the employee to understand the expectations of a safe working environment, their entitlements, the employers expectations, including a right of entry by the employer. It is drafted to ensure Employers meet all legal obligations to their homeworking employees whilst ensuring that the work they receive is still of the standard that they might expect if the employee was in the office.
All employers should ensure that employees undertake a risk assessment, including workstation assessment, and safe working practices. Employers are responsible for the safety and well-being of their workforce under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974. This includes homeworking. The Homeworker Risk Assessment Form is to be used when an employee starts a period of homeworking. Employers have a legal requirement to undertake a risk assessment of the homeworking environment in order to identify any potential hazards at the premises.
As an employer, you are obliged to:
• Identify any potential hazards
• Assess who may be harmed by them
• Review potential risks and consider how to prevent them
• Keep up to date records
• Implement any actions that arise from your risk assessment
• Review and update your risk assessment at regular intervals.
Small businesses can conduct the risk assessment themselves.
These are difficult and unprecedented times. Stay safe and support one another even if that is virtually.
We are still working (from home) to support our clients and anyone who needs help. If you need help email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact us. We’ve currently got a quick turn around on policies and agreements.
Watch out for our working from home guide for workers, and our Business Continuity planning tips. Coming soon.