Working from home: Should I work from home? Your rights and the rules explained

Working from home: Should I work from home? Your rights and the rules explained

September 24, 2020

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The Government has urged people to continue working from home “if they can” in an effort to reduce social mixing and slow the spread of the coronavirus. Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove said: “We are stressing that if it is safe to work in your workplace, if you are in a covid-secure workplace, then you should be there if your job requires it. But, if you can work from home you should.” Mr Gove admitted this advice had changed from last month’s, whereby the Government was urging people to go back to the office.

Should I work from home?

In short, yes. If your job enables you to work from home rather than being present on site, you should work from home as long as coronavirus restrictions last.

Both employers and employees should be practical, flexible and sensitive to each other’s situations when working from home.

As long as you are well and working from home, you should continue to be paid your normal salary.

If you are self isolating but can’t do your work at home, then by law, you should receive Statutory Sick Pay in addition to any workplace sickness schemes your employer offers.

By law, employers are responsible for the health and safety of all workers, including those working from home.

Although it’s unlikely employers can carry out health and safety checks at people’s homes, especially amid a global pandemic, they should still check that:

  • Each employee feels the work they’re being asked to do at home can be done safely
  • Employees have the right equipment to work safely
  • Managers keep in regular contact with their employees, including to make sure they don’t feel isolated
  • Reasonable adjustments are made for an employee with a disability

In addition to your employer, you also have a duty to look after your own health and safety while working from home.

You should be keeping in regular contact with your manager and tell them about:

  • Any health and safety risks
  • Any home working changes that need to be made

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Your employer is also responsible for providing you with all the technology you need to work from home successfully.

They should:

  • Discuss equipment and technology with the employee
  • Agree on what’s needed
  • Support the employee to set up any new equipment or technology

Can I refuse to work if my workplace isn’t safe?

The Government has issued extensive guidance for employers to ensure that workplaces are covid-secure, which includes completing a risk assessment.

If you think your workplace is unsafe, you should offer suggestions to your employer on what steps can be taken to increase safety.

Ultimately, if you do not attend work despite being asked to, your employer could treat the absence as unauthorised and follow through with disciplinary action.

However, as an employer, you have legal rights not to be fired because you have raised health and safety concerns at work.

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