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    Working from home 4.0

    Published on December 16th, 2021 | by Lucy Hay

    Here we are again, the latest news from the Covid-19 pandemic is to work from home if you can. But what does that actually mean and how enforceable is it?

    The current guidance which took effect from the 13th December 2021 stated that office workers who can work from home should do so. However, the guidance this time round is less restrictive and can be open to interpretation. Unlike previous restrictions whereby home working was mandatory, this time there are alternatives dependent on the situation.

    Let’s look at this in more detail.

    For some employers, the instruction of ‘work from home if you can’ may not affect them at all, due to already working from home full time or possibly using a hybrid working model. If this is the case, employees will continue to work from home with no impact.

    On the other hand, employers that brought their employees back to work full time from home working, may now be wondering, “what do I do now?”. Following on from the previous working from home rules, there would have clearly been a reason as to why they brought staff back into the workplace full time – whether that be for mental health reasons, business reasons or productivity.

    Employers should look at whether there is a need for employees to work in the physical workplace. This will vary by sector, industry, and the nature of the role i.e. manufacturing. Employees can’t work from home as they are not able to access the equipment they need to equipment to perform their roles.

    If employees are less productive from home or don’t have the equipment to work effectively from home, it is beneficial for them to continue to work from the office. In addition, employees may face mental or physical health difficulties if they are to work from home which is another factor that should be considered when deciding whether or not to send employees to work from home.

    Employers who do have employees working in the physical workplace should consider asking their employees to take lateral flow tests regularly to manage the risk. They should also continue to follow Covid guidelines regarding managing the risk in the workplace, for example, providing hand sanitizers, keeping a safe distance etc. These recommendations can be following a Covid-19 risk assessment and suitable mitigation should be put in place.

    Conversely, if employees are worried about Covid-19 and nervous to continue to work from the office, it may be an option to allow them to work from home considering they have everything they need, and their productivity levels remain the same. Employers should deal with these situations on a case-by-case basis as each situation will be different. Employers must be careful to not discriminate when deciding who can work from home and who can’t.

    If you are considering making working from home a permanent change or even a temporary change but for the foreseeable future, please refer to our ‘Working from Home’ blog about all things to consider when working from home. Employers should also be aware of employee engagement whist working from home and how this may affect bringing staff back into the office in the future.

    Please remember that the government guidance is advice only and is not currently mandatory. If you require any additional support with working from home whether its HR or Health and Safety related, please feel free to contact us on 01527 571617.

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