Alex Dean, a recruitment specialist at Stackhouse Poland, looks at the key considerations for employers when offering agile or home working.
An increasing number of businesses are seeking alternative ways to engage with their employees, to respond to the attitudes of the modern workforce, and meet staff expectations more effectively.
Offering flexible working can aid staff retention and improve employee satisfaction – work/life balance is increasingly important to staff, with a recent study* revealing that flexible working is the most important factor in workplace wellbeing.
Flexible working is nothing new – indeed employees have a legal right to request flexible working after they have been with the same employer for at least 26 weeks – but businesses are becoming more open to the idea of encouraging their staff to work on a flexible basis, including working from home.
While there has been some debate about the productivity of home workers, (there are quite a few studies that suggest home workers are more productive) there are many benefits that cannot be ignored, particularly when considering the health and wellbeing of your employees.
If you decide to offer a flexible working environment, what practical considerations should you take on board as an employer?
The law requires employers to consider health and safety risks for people working from home. All employers have a responsibility to ensure the safety and welfare of all their employees, even if they are working out of the office. Of course, employees also have a responsibility to ensure that they take reasonable care of both themselves and other people.
When offering the option of working from home, employers have a duty to assess the risks to lone workers and take reasonable steps to mitigate these risks.
These considerations should include:
- Working with employees to identify the risks concerned
- Effecting a policy to remove or lessen the risks to employees
- Providing training and instruction wherever possible
- Undertaking risk assessments on a periodic basis
What should employers and employees consider when identifying risks to home workers?
The first step is to implement a home/lone workers checklist, which identifies the basic requirements for a safe working environment and considers how to make the environment as safe as possible.
This should include an initial assessment of the working environment including lighting, space, storage, heating and ventilation.
One should also consider the electrical installations within the working environment including maintaining the fixed electrical system in a safe and working order.
Basic office risk assessments should be undertaken, including Display Screen Equipment assessments.
Finally, careful consideration should be given to emergency procedures in the event of a fire or first aid emergency.
As an employer, you have a requirement under law to consult with your employees about matters of health and safety and to ensure that hazards are identified, and appropriate control measures implemented.
Finally, procedures should be put in place to monitor lone workers and to ensure that open lines of communication are in place. Therefore, supervisors may wish to implement pre-agreed intervals of contact with the employee in question.
The tasks undertaken by the home worker will largely dictate the level of monitoring that you should implement. For example, a worker undertaking office activities will present a low risk, but the risks should still be fully assessed and effectively controlled wherever possible.
It is therefore essential that you have a robust and carefully considered health and safety plan in place, and ensure that adequate risk assessments are undertaken.
If you are unsure about your obligations or require assistance completing a checklist, please do get in touch with us. Insurance is only one area of our expertise; as a partner to your business, we offer a full-service package including tips on risk identification and mitigation as well as model documents ranging from health and safety assessments to business continuity planning.
Call us on 0330 660 0401 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
I have worked in the Corporate Insurance Broking industry for over eight years, both in new business and technical roles and dealing with all classes of insurance policies and industries.