For existing employees, any change to home working for either all or part of their working hours should be done on a trial basis. Normally, this will be over a two to three month period with a planned review to resolve any issues during the trial period. The Contract of Employment therefore be revised to state the place of work as being the employee’s home.
In such circumstances, employers are entitled if they wish to introduce more comprehensive contractual obligations. These can include requirements such as:
For regular reporting and communication with line managers
By the same token, it is necessary to ensure that home workers have appropriate daily and weekly rest periods and that they do not exceed the average working time limit, unless by prior written agreement. Home workers should also retain contact with work colleagues as this will minimise feelings of isolation and lack of motivation. Home workers should be regularly informed of any developments or problems within the employer's business.
Where they supply home workers with equipment such as laptops and telephones, employers should ensure that the equipment is properly insured under the employee’s own insurance. It is however possible for the employer to extend the company insurance policy to deal with this eventuality. In these circumstances, tighter contractual terms on care of equipment and cost of repair may be introduced.
In relation to security issues, employers can reserve a contractual right of entry to an employee’s workplace to obtain any necessary company information. Naturally employers may make it clear within the Contract of Employment that the home worker is responsible for the security of confidential information, however it is held.
Finally, employers continue to have health and safety obligations towards employees even when they are working from home. At the very least, it is necessary to ensure that home workers have proper inspections of their home work station to ensure it complies with health and safety standards.