Companies have adapted during the Coronavirus pandemic and many have seen that employees can be just as productive working from home.
So much so, many are now considering home working as a viable alternative going forward. Twitter announced that all of their employees can work from home permanently and many other large corporate companies are following suit with home working offered as a permanent alternative to office-based working.
For those who are planning to continue to offer home working, set procedures should be introduced to ensure a smooth transition.
We at NV Legal secure thousands every year for employees injured in an accident at work which was not their fault. Employers still have a duty of care to provide a safe working environment for staff working at home.
The Workplace (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulations 1992 do not apply to domestic premises, but employers still need to consider safety for staff working remotely at home.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
Due to the remote nature of employees working from an alternative location it would be practically impossible for every employer to carry out a home-based risk assessment. However, there are steps employers can take to ensure employees are working to a safe standard and risk factors should be assessed remotely.
Communication is key and regular contact should be maintained to ensure employees are happy at home. Office-based roles need the correct IT equipment and manual workers would need enough space and resources in the home to complete their role safely.
Employees should have the correct equipment to continue working. Some of the larger corporations have shipped office equipment out to staff however, many already have a suitable place at home to continue working. Smaller items such as computer equipment or stationery can be posted out to employees.
Although claims for personal injury from remote workers are rare, using defective equipment which causes an accident or injury could lead to a claim.
Employees have a duty while at home to ensure a safe working environment, but employers also have a duty to ensure the equipment and workspace are safe for you to continue to work.
If your employer fails to take care for your safety and you had an accident because of their negligence, then your employer could be found responsible.
DISPLAY SCREEN EQUIPMENT
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), any employees working from home on a long-term basis, with the use of Display Screen Equipment (DSE), must undergo a risk assessment which includes completing workstation assessments at home.
The HSE says there is no increased risk from DSE work for those working at home temporarily but the recommends employers provide workers with advice on completing their own basic assessment at home.
The safety body has produced a workstation checklist which shows steps people can take to reduce the risks from display screen work. It recommends:
- Breaking up long spells of DSE work with rest breaks (at least five minutes every hour) or changes in activity
- Avoiding awkward, static postures by regularly changing position
- Getting up and moving or doing stretching exercises
- Avoiding eye fatigue by changing focus or blinking from time to time (Source: HSE)
According to the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) which works with millions of employers and employees every year to improve workplace relationships, employers should:
- Talk to their employees and workers about how they might improve working from home arrangements
- Continue to consider which roles and tasks can be done from home – this might involve doing things differently and not assuming a role cannot be based at home
- Support employees to adjust to remote working
- Consider individual employees’ needs, for example anyone with childcare responsibilities, a long-term health condition or a disability
- Write down the arrangements that have been agreed so everyone is clear
Mental health has become more of an issue during the pandemic and regular communication with staff is crucial to ensure that they are feeling well. It is vital that while working from home they take regular breaks and take time away from the home.
Working and living in the same space can and does provide challenges especially if your employees have children too. Regular time out doors away from the home, daily exercise, walking or cycling if possible, can ease the pressure.
Calls to mental health charities have surged during the pandemic so the mental health well being of employees is vital.
SET HOME-WORKING EXPECTATIONS WITH EMPLOYEES (SOURCE ACAS)
- When employees will be available to work
- How they will keep in touch
- How work-life balance will be managed, for example taking regular breaks and switching off from work at the end of the day
- Rules around storing information and data protection
- How performance will be managed and measured – taking into account people’s circumstances where necessary
- Who employees should contact if they have any problems or their circumstances change
If you think your employer is at fault for your working from home accident, contact our solicitors today for free, no-obligation advice and guidance. Call 03330 112732 or email email@example.com