The Coronavirus lockdown: an employer’s duty of care for remote workers

March 26, 2020

 

On 23 March, the UK Government implemented a ‘lockdown’ in response to the Coronavirus crisis.

In light of these restrictive measures, employers will need to take a practical and flexible approach if their employees must now work from home.

Employers still have a duty of care for employee well-being, so far as is reasonably practicable, even when they are working from home.

Here are some important considerations for employers with remote workers:

Equipment and technology

It is an employer’s responsibility to ensure that employees have the equipment and technology they need so they can work effectively from home. Employers should ask their employees what they require to work remotely and provide any support they need in order to set up the equipment and technology.

Set clear expectations

Some employees may initially struggle to adapt to the sudden change of working remotely. Therefore, employers must ensure that employees working from home know what is expected of them; for example, agree on how you will keep in touch, set clear rules for storing information and data protection, and tell them how their performance will be managed and measured.

Keep in touch

Employers should touch base with their employees regularly in relation to work and any changes in their personal circumstances which may affect their work. This can be done through work emails, conference calls or even FaceTime or WhatsApp messages if an informal approach if preferred.

Terms and conditions of employment

Employers must remember that an employee’s terms and conditions of employment still apply even though they have to temporarily work from home. For example, homeworking employees are still entitled to the same pay and benefits provided they are working their contracted hours.

Childcare

Employers may want to take a more flexible approach towards remote working employees who also have childcare responsibilities. For example, they could allow these employees to work different hours, work less hours, reduce their work targets, or ask them to take either time off for dependents leave or annual leave.

 

 

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