Many employees work occasionally from home. There could be a number of reasons for home working: for example, adverse weather conditions may affect public transport, thus making it difficult for employees to get to work; unexpected child care problems could occur if an employee’s child is suddenly ill; and there are times when someone needs a bit of peace and quiet to write or proof read a complex report.
Having a policy in place for occasional home and remote working is a sensible approach for any business. Guidelines are then available and everyone knows what to expect and what they may or may not claim as expenses. This article gives suggestions about what could be included in a Home and Remote Working Policy.
First, make it clear that there is a difference between informal, occasional home working and that the policy does not apply to an employee who works permanently from home. In the latter case, the permanent home worker probably uses their own address as the main location from which they work.
Give reasons for occasional home working, such as those suggested above, but indicate that every case will be judged on an individual basis.
State who is nominated to give approval of occasional home working, how the employee should make their request, and that authorisation must be given before starting a defined period of home working.
A potentially contentious area could be over what your employees may or may not claim as expenses when they are working from home, so it is important to make this clear in your policy. For example, because the work is occasional, any equipment such as laptops, printers or phones will not be provided by the company. Similarly, ensure that employees understand that you will not reimburse the cost of any overheads such as electricity, gas or oil while the employee is working at home.
On the other hand, you would expect home workers to continue to communicate with their colleagues at your business address and/or with clients. Email is the obvious way, for which there would be no recompense. However, there could be occasions when your employee has to use their home phone. In such cases, indicate that essential phone costs would be reimbursed providing that an itemised phone bill is produced.
There will be a number of policies which apply to employees when working at your business address(es). Attention should be drawn to any such policies which apply, regardless of where the employee is working on your behalf. For example, you may have a policy about never giving home phone numbers to anyone without authorisation from a named staff member.
Similarly, the company’s Health and Safety Policy applies just as much to the employee’s home and attention should be drawn to this. An employee’s personal safety and security is important, wherever they are working.
An essential part of the Home and Remote Working Policy should cover confidentiality and security of any data which is processed while the employee is working from home. Reference to the company’s Data Protection Policy is worthwhile.
Having a policy in place for the occasions when an employee has to work from home is a sensible step to take. This article can only give ideas but there is plenty of advice available online.