Q&A - What issues do I need to consider if I allow staff to work from home?

Q. I run a successful IT company and many of my employees have made enquiries about working from home.  I have no fundamental issue with this as I feel that for most employees it would be practical. But as an employer, I wonder if there are any particular issues that I should be considering?

A. There are a number of factors to consider here.  In particular it would be sensible to propose new contracts for those employees who wish to work from home.  The new contracts should consider matters including (but not limited to) provision for payment of expenses (e.g. use of home telephone), reporting procedures (e.g. requirement to call into the office at the start of the working day), and asking the employee to confirm that working from home does not breach any term of their mortgage or lease.

You should also bear in mind that even though the employee is working in their home, you are still under the same Health and Safety obligations as if the employee is working in the office.  Therefore a proper risk assessment should be carried out.

Additionally, certain employees may qualify to request to work from home as part of their right to request flexible working.  A request for flexible working should be considered by you as an employer and should only be refused on one of the specified grounds (e.g. burden of additional costs).

As you can see there are a number of factors to consider.  So before you take the step of allowing employees to work from home it would be prudent to discuss the issues further with a solicitor who specialises in employment law.