Episode 001: Setting up an employee to work from home during the Covid-19 emergency
About this episode of The Employment Law Podcast
This episode examines what to consider when setting up an employee to work from home
What you'll learn
You will learn the main legal requirements for allowing an employee to work from home. You can also download a useful working from home policy document.
The Employment Law Podcast Episode 001 Transcript
Hello and welcome to the first episode of the employment law podcast brought to you by Employment Rights Advice.ie
I’m your host Tommy Myles from Employment Rights Advice.ie
Our aim is to help you keep up with the changing demands employment legislation places on an employer in Ireland.
Getting it wrong can be very expensive.
It can affect your reputation as well as your finances.
We’re here to help you get it right.
Employment law is constantly changing.
We will keep you up to date in easy to consume episodes. Subscribe to our podcast and join us.
In this series we will be reviewing the current Covid-19 measures. We look at the law and the finances. How to avoid falling foul of current employment law in Ireland and what financial supports are available.
We’ll also examine what to do about staying positive.
This week we’ll be discussing working from home, what every employer should know when considering setting up an employee to work from home. This information will be useful whether you are just starting to set up a working from home procedure or you have already got an employee working from home. It is good to review your procedures against current employment legislation, especially health and safety.
There's no place like home
That is a true saying, and in the context of health and safety in the workplace, it poses it's own challenges. The same rules on health and safety apply in the home as in the office/ business premises. Is the workstation suitable? Is it at the right height, properly lit, correct ergonomics and more ? Are there any hazards ? You should examine the home workplace as rigorously as you would the business premises.
Is there proper insurance in place? Employer's liability, Employee's liability, Public liability.
Does the contract of employment cover home working? If not then you will have to change it with the consent of your existing employees.
If your contract of employment does not mention home working then you should use a working from home policy. This is a standard policy document which deals with the various aspects of home working.
You can download a Covid-19 updated working from home policy template using the link in the show notes.
I’ll mention at the end of the show how to find the show notes.
How do you organise training for home workers? Who pays for the fit out/ up keep of the part of the home used for home working?
Communications and motivation will play an important role in the success of the home working endeavours. A secure IT environment is essential to protect business data.
Lets take a look at some of the questions surrounding setting up an employee to work from home
What aspects of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act should I consider ?
You must consider the duty of care which you have towards your employees when they are working from home. This applies to their workspace at home, in the same way as it does to their workspace in your business premises.
Your duties can be summarised as follows:
Arranging and conducting all work activities so as to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, the safety, health and welfare of the worker
Plan, maintain and provide a safe system of work
Carry out risk assessment and put the recommendations in place.
Provide safe equipment. This includes personal protective equipment if the assessment calls for it.
Training,information, instruction and supervision must be provided to the employee regarding health and safety
Prepare and implement an emergency plan
What equipment must I provide for my employees to facilitate working from home?
Assuming that you have made the decision that working from home is feasible for the employee, then you must supply the equipment which they need to carry out their work. For, example, computer, calculator, printer(if needed) etc. Consider potential data breach, where the employee offers to use their own computer.
What are the challenges involving the use of computers and IT equipment at home ?
The Covid-19 crisis has created a situation where employers and employees are forced to consider working at home arrangements at short notice, and initially on a temporary basis. It is important therefore that both the employer and employee consider the following matters, all of which have been applicable in the business workplace, and which must be applied to the home workplace now:
Avoid staying in the same position for too long while working. Vary your tasks to incorporate a change in physical position.
Minimise twisting or overreaching due to the position of the equipment.
Avoid screen glare
Look away from the screen regularly
Take regular breaks. Move at least one minute in every hour
Is the home workspace big enough to hold all of the equipment?
Do you have adequate Data Protection measures in place.
Keeping in contact with the employees
Make sure that you have up to date contact details for each worker, including updated emergency contact details.
Ensure that each worker has the relevant emergency contact details for the business, should they need to contact you urgently
Set up a routine of regular updates and keeping in touch in a planned way
How good is your IT support for each employee working from home?
Organise work so as to encourage the use of breaks
Respect the start time and end time of the working day. Both employer and employee. It is easy to lose sight of when work ends and home life begins.
Establish a method of keeping track of the time worked by the home worker, so as to comply with Working time legislation. This is ultimately your responsibility as an employer.
What are my employees responsibilities, when working from home ?
Legislation places an obligation on the employee to :
Protect themselves from harm as well as others. If any equipment is faulty or poses a danger to them or fellow workers, they have a duty to report it to you.
All of the laws applicable to working in your business premises apply to the home workplace also, therefore an employee has a duty to report any injury to you, immediately.
Every employee has a duty to follow your reasonable instructions, including policies and procedures.
Every employee has a duty not to breach GDPR . They must take effective steps to ensure the privacy of data.
Are there any tax reliefs available to the employee who works from home?
The Revenue Commissioners have put together a document on e-Working and Tax. You can download it using the link in the show notes. It explains the position of home expenses and how they are dealt with as well as other matters. It usefully, defines e-working. I’ll mention at the end of the show how to find the show notes.
Here comes the Legal disclaimer
This podcast is made available for information only. It does not constitute legal advice. Please do not rely on it when making any decision. If you want to discuss any matter please contact us directly and we’d be happy to help.
Congratulations you have made it all the way to the end. I’d love to know what you are doing while you listen to the episode. Let me know if there is a particular HR or employment law topic which you would like us to cover.
Visit our website at Employment Rights Advice.ie and hit the contact us button.
I haven’t forgotten the show notes. You will find them at employmentrightsadvice.ie/001.
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In our next episode we look at the use of lay off and short time in the current Covid-19 pandemic.
Thanks for listening and stay safe!!
Download a Working from Home Policy
This working from home policy is designed to facilitate home working . It has been amended to reflect the current Covid-19 crisis. It is written in plain English.It covers the essential requirements for working from home.
Online course " Protecting Data when Working from Home"
Help your employees become aware of the risks involved and how to portect data when working from home. This course presents the information about data protection in an interesting way. It has quizzes and provides the knowledge in stages so that it is absorbed by the learner. It is self paced and provides certification on completion. All of your employees should take this course to protect your business from the consequences of data breach.
Download Revenue e-Working and Tax document here
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