Getting help and advice about working from home
You have the right under UK law: *
For a request to work from home to be reasonably considered
If you are an office-based employee, your pay, annual leave, sick leave, pension, hours of work, staff appraisal and all your terms of your contract should stay the same when moving from office-based to home-based working. If you are starting a new role that involves homeworking, your terms and conditions should be the same as those your colleagues enjoy, regardless of whether they are also homeworkers or are office-based.
Under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, employers have a duty to protect the health, safety, and welfare of all their employees which includes homeworkers. The same health and safety law and standards apply to homeworking as they do to office working.
Although employers are not required to maintain homeworking spaces, if they require you to work from home they do have a responsibility to ensure that your working space is adequate. Any accidents or injuries sustained while working from home should be reported to your safety representative in the same way as they would be if they occurred in the office.
The switch towards remote working has raised some questions about how performance is managed remotely, and we recommend regular conversations with your line manager and to ensure these are via video or phone call rather than over email. You should agree work objectives that are measurable so you can show work is being progressed, and it can be useful to record your achievements and performance so you have them available to refer to if needed.
Home working has raised issues around the increasing use by employers of new technology and software to communicate with and manage their workforce, and the implications of this for work-life balance, privacy, accountability, and fairness.
There is evidence that some workers struggle to maintain a fair and healthy work-life balance because of these new communication technologies.
“Always on” working cultures of checking emails and taking calls away from work have become widespread in many companies and industries. Although some people may be happy to work like this, if expectations are not managed fairly, it can pose serious issues for equality and diversity, work-related stress, morale and productivity. These issues can be made worse by a growing shift towards increased home working. There can be important benefits for many workers from increased flexibility about where they work, but for some it can make it even harder for workers to maintain boundaries between work and the rest of their lives
Employers are increasingly turning to new technologies and data analysis techniques in how they manage and reward their employees. This can include surveillance technologies from keystroke monitoring to CCTV, sensors, and voice recorders. The issues these technologies and practices raise around privacy, accountability and fairness can be even starker for home workers. Remember, you have the right under GDPR to know what data employers are gathering or storing on you and how it is being used.
Several areas of employment legislation can be used to help improve members’ work-life balance. The law may be a useful tool to achieve good policies and successful outcomes in individual cases, but the best way of improving policies is to negotiate good agreements to suit your workplace.
You have the right to request flexible working arrangements, whether this is a change to their hours, times of work or location, in order to work from home. If you have been employed for 26 weeks you have the right to request flexible working and your employer has a legal duty to seriously consider your request. Flexible working patterns may include part-time work, reduced hours, flexitime, job sharing, term-time or homeworking and it may be considered indirect sex discrimination if your employer refuses your request.
Under the legislation, you can ask for your contract to be varied to change hours of work, times or patterns of work or location of work (for example to work from home). Requests can be made for any reason and the employer must give them due consideration.
Your employers’ policy should follow the ACAS code which says that they should discuss that request with you (allowing you to take a union representative with you) and give you a written response within 12 weeks and the right to appeal. If the request is refused unreasonably or the working pattern you are being asked to work makes it difficult to arrange childcare then there may be a discrimination claim.
Once a request to change hours or location is agreed it will be a permanent change.
Your union representative is your starting point for getting help from us with any problem at work.
Sometimes members feel that they can sort things out on their own, but it is important to talk to your union representative as soon as possible. Sometimes trying to sort out an issue without proper advice can make the problem much worse. We are here to help you and you can contact your union representative by calling 0333 2423 526.
Your union representative will discuss the situation with you, agree a way forward with you and together they will help you achieve the best possible outcome for you.
You have a legal right to belong to a trade union and your employer is forbidden from treating you unfavourably because you join a trade union, take part in trade union activities or use the services trade unions provide for their members. You also have a right to be accompanied by a trade union representative at any grievance meetings, disciplinary hearings and disciplinary appeals.
* From the Health and Safety At Work Act (1974) and the Flexible Working Regulations (2014)