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Agile working: have you considered all of the legal and safety issues?

Employment / 10 June 2021

The shift to agile working means that many organisations will be considering alternative forms of working including permanent homeworking and hybrid-remote working, as well as how to manage a safe return to workplaces. These changes have several legal and safety implications for employers. We have prepared a checklist of key issues for employers to consider. This checklist has been prepared in collaboration with Assurity Consulting.

Adapting to more permanent working from home and/or hybrid-remote working arrangements

(Permanently working from home being where the employee works permanently from home/remotely. Hybrid-remote working being where the employee combines working from home/remotely and working from the workplace/different locations)

—  Is the role suitable for homeworking or from elsewhere, for example abroad? Will you require your employees to come to the workplace at any point? Is the role suitable for hybrid-remote working?

—  If hybrid-remote working, will you require or encourage employees to be in the office on certain days or will they have flexibility? How will you record and manage this arrangement?

—  Do you have the technology and equipment to allow your employees to work from home?

—  Do you need to redesign your existing workplace to optimise the use of the space?

—  Do you have adequate insurance in place?

—  Are there any financial/expenses implications for the individual working from home or hybrid-remotely? For example, who is responsible for the employee’s cost of travelling to and from the workplace?

—  What are the personnel management implications?  How will potential misconduct be managed?

—  Have you considered any data protection, cyber-security and/or intellectual property issues?

—  Have you considered the impact on health and safety, including a focus on mental health and wellbeing? Have you carried out a risk assessment?

—  Have you made the necessary legal changes, for example, issuing new or amended employment contracts?  Have you consulted appropriately before doing so?

—  How do you cultivate a team culture and ensure that remote employees are treated equally to those in the office?

—  Do you have appropriate policies and procedures for employees who permanently work from home or for those employees who work hybrid-remotely? How do they interlink with other forms of flexible working?

Returning to the workplace safely

(For employees who wish to return to the workplace permanently)

The Government is to make an announcement on 14 June 2021 as to whether all legal coronavirus restrictions will end as hoped on 21 June 2021, particularly taking into account data relating to the prevalence of variants and the effect of the reopening of measures in Step 3.

If Step 4 goes ahead as intended on 21 June 2021, the Government’s advice to ‘work from home wherever possible’ will end. It is also not yet clear whether the current advice will remain in place for hotspots of the Delta variant such as Greater Manchester and Lancashire. In any event, organisations need to facilitate a return to the workplace in line with COVID-secure workplace guidance in advance of any large-scale return, and to cover circumstances where working from home is not possible. For those wishing to work from the office ahead of restrictions being lifted you need to consider:

—  Is the job suitable for homeworking or hybrid-remote working instead (see above)?

—  Do your employees need to be in the office and why?

Beyond these questions you also need to ask:

—  Is your office COVID-secure with an up to date risk assessment (considering ventilation, social distancing and cleaning)?

—  How are you providing reassurance to employees that your office is safe?

—  Have you considered the impact on health, safety and wellbeing, particularly where employees return to the office for the first time, after a long period of working from home?

—  Do employees need new and/or refresher training, and in what areas?

—  Do you have a workplace COVID-19 testing programme and/or a policy on COVID-19 vaccinations?

—  How will you handle post-holiday quarantine issues?

Our highly experienced Regulatory and Employment teams can help guide you through the process of adapting to the “new normal” when it comes to post-Covid working arrangements. Please click the box below if you would like more legal advice.  Alternatively, for independent workplace health, safety and environmental compliance advice contact Assurity Consulting. 

 

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This update is for general purposes and guidance only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. You should seek legal advice before relying on its content. This update relates to the prevailing circumstances at the date of its original publication and may not have been updated to reflect subsequent developments. If you have general queries about our updates, please email: mailinglists@greenwoodsgrm.co.uk

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