Law guide: Employment

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Contractual issues

Contractual issues

Contents

Introduction

In England, Wales and Scotland, employers are required to provide employees and workers with a written statement of particulars of employment by the day they start working for them. In Northern Ireland employees must be given a written statement of particulars of employment within 2 months of starting work.

Homeworkers are entitled to the same terms and conditions of employment as other employees/workers. The most notable difference in their contracts will usually be their place of work and any obligations to attend the workplace, such as for meetings.

Change in working practices

Where an employee moves from working at your workplace to working from home, this could be a permanent change their working practices. If it is, you'll have one month from the date of change to give them a revised written statement of particulars.

As mentioned above, usually this will involve confirming that they're a homeworker, changing the address of their place of work and including any obligations to attend the workplace, such as for meetings. It may involve changing their working hours, if greater flexibility is required.

Other substantive changes to the nature of the employment relationship can be included, but only if you and the employee agree to them. Otherwise, usually no other change to the employee's status and the rights is required.

Temporary or ad hoc homeworking doesn't normally require a revised written statement of particulars.

Homeworking should not be used as a backdoor means of replacement of permanent jobs with freelance or temporary jobs.

Other obligations

These will usually be contained in a policy, which can include details of:

  • The procedure for applying to work from home
  • Any pre-conditions that must be met before allowing homeworking, e.g. the employee having any necessary consent from their mortgage provider and/or landlord; having suitable home, contents and if necessary, public liability insurance cover; completing a trial period.
  • Rules about taking breaks within the limits set by the Working Time Regulations
  • How and when must they report to their line manager and the other company personnel
  • When they must attend the office or other reasonable locations for meetings, training courses or other events
  • Who's responsible for providing and paying for work equipment. Note that you may need to extend any insurance to cover for work equipment you provide and that's not kept in the office.
  • If you or the employee will pay for any extra household costs, such as for heating or electricity
  • How expenses can be claimed and for what reasons
  • When access to their home may be required by you
  • Health & safety requirements when working from
  • How you will maintain security and confidentiality of your information, including data protection

Change of mind – reverting to working at the workplace

On the general principle of maintaining good employer-staff relationships, try and agree if a homeworker changes their mind. You should check why they want to return, in case you risk discriminating against them or causing them harm by refusing , such as if they feel isolated and their mental wellbeing will be affected. There may be times when you want them to return, such as if productivity is suffering. Both sides should, however, consent to the changes.

In some cases, however, it may not be possible to reverse the decision. For example, accommodation at your workplace may be limited. Similarly, the costs of reversal (added to the original outlay of providing equipment for homeworking) may be too high.

The circumstances where homeworking cannot be reversed should be spelled out before you employ them or allow any request to work from home.

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