The Coronavirus pandemic rapidly accelerated the trend of people working from home or hybrid working. Although the threat of other lockdowns is behind us, the benefits of homeworking will not be easily surrendered. A recent survey results show that over 30% of UK full-time employees are now following a hybrid work schedule, working partly remotely and partly in the office.
For employers, this new workstyle will require a rethink of health and safety policies and procedures. In this article, we briefly introduce what you need to consider to protect the health and safety of your homeworking employees.
What are the health and safety issues when working from home?
There are several health and safety issues to consider if you intend to permit employees to work from home. Examples of working arrangements include:
- Does the employee have ergonomic furniture to protect them from back, shoulder, neck, and wrist injuries?
- Is there adequate lighting and ventilation?
- Are power cords tucked away and clutter removed to prevent trips and slips?
- Are heavy items safely stored away (not high up on shelves)
The only way to identify these issues and guarantee your employees work remotely safely is to include homeworkers in your health and safety risk assessments. Ideally, this will involve personal home visits.
How do I conduct a WFH health and safety risk assessment?
To conduct an adequate homeworker health and safety risk assessment, you will need to consider the following:
- How do you plan to keep in touch with your homeworking employees
- The type of work they will do (and how long)
- How can they do it safely
- If you need to put control measures in place to protect them
Is there work from home health and safety checklist?
There is no official checklist. As an employer, you have a statutory duty to safeguard an employee’s mental and physical health.
Things to pay attention to include:
- Monitoring the signs of stress and poor mental health
- The safe use of laptops, display screens and other work electrical equipment
- The overall workplace environment
If your home worker or hybrid worker employee spends most of their work hours at a computer, you must ensure they have a proper work area and office chair to protect their backs and hand muscles from strain.
Trips and slips can result from cords and equipment being left out, so an adequate storage system may also be required.
It’s also best practice to schedule regular one-to-one catch-ups with your homeworking staff to discuss their concerns and any health and safety issues working from home and check on their general wellbeing.
What are the government guidelines on working from home health and safety policy for homeworkers?
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is the Government agency responsible for governing, enforcing and researching all matters concerning workplace health and safety.
They have provided comprehensive working from home guidance on their website.
Should I have a WFH health and safety policy?
If you intend to offer a working from home option to current and future employees, it is best practice to have a robust WFH health and safety policy. This should be drafted using the information you have collated from your health and safety risk assessment.
At Lawbite, all free employment contract templates contain a homeworking / hybrid working clause. Find out more and download the right contract for your employees.
What are the benefits of hybrid working
Many employees have enjoyed the benefits of working from home, such as no commutes, lunch breaks with partners, and being in the constant company of their pets.
If you are running a business that does not rely on daily face-to-face contact, there are many benefits of hybrid working for your company and your employees.
- Cost savings
- Improved employee wellbeing
- Increased efficiency
- Wider talent pool
For many employees, working from home improves their productivity and happiness. You will avoid costly health and safety breaches and retain valuable talent by ensuring they have a safe working environment at home.
Get legal assistance from LawBite
At LawBite, we know how hard it is to stay on top of constantly changing health and safety legislation and guidance. Our expert employment lawyer can work as an extension of your HR team and can assist with all aspects of employment and health and safety compliance.
We can also support you in drafting a working from home health and safety policy that could be used in your business. Book a free 15 minute consultation with one of our lawyers today to find out how we can assist or call us on 020 3808 8314.