Working from home
From 23 March 2020, all UK citizens have been directed by the Government not to leave their homes unless absolutely necessary. The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 make it an offence for a person to leave their house other than for one of the reasons listed in regulation 8. A valid reason is “to travel for the purposes of work…where it is not reasonably possible for that person to work, or to provide those services, from the place where they are living”. This means that where possible, employees should now be working from home.
Where working from home is not possible, employers will have a duty of care to ensure that employees are able to work in accordance with Public Health guidelines, including being able to work at least two metres away from others, providing hand sanitiser and soap for handwashing and any protective equipment such as masks or gloves. Employers should update any risk assessments to include any factors that may make employees susceptible to infection and keep employees up to date with information relating to COVID-19. A script should be agreed with the employees in the event they are stopped by the police whilst travelling to work.
For those working from home, if you do not have a homeworking policy, you should consider putting one in place now. The policy should provide details of the homeworking arrangements including how homeworkers will be managed, expectations in relation to communications and working hours, whether any expenses will be reimbursed and how (e.g. home broadband), when visits to a place of work are permissible, and the provision and maintenance of equipment. A free checklist for a homeworking policy can be found on the Acas website.
Employers continue to owe a duty to care to those working from home, so carry out risk assessments if you can, ask employees if they feel they can/are safely working from home, and ensure reasonable adjustments are made for those with disabilities. This is not however a one way street - employees have a responsibility to look after their own health and safety and they should report any risks or necessary changes to you. So keep in touch, and don’t be shy to ask direct questions of how people are getting on.Back to news list