Set up and manage remote workers, home workers and lone workers
Time to do your homework
If some of your employees work from home or another venue remotely then there are a number of matters to consider. Similarly the employee who works on their own on your premises.
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. If the changes do not apply to all employees, then you may have unhappy workers.
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 button below.
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.
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. The 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 regularily
- 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 you 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.
How can I ensure that my employees are aware of their GDPR obligations, when working from home ?
Keeping data private is important at all times. It is important to be aware of the risks of data breach when working from home. We offer an online course to help employees understand the risk of data breach when working from home. The course makes employees aware of the danger areas and how to avoid them. It is mainly focussed on the remote worker, but is applicable to the workplace environment also.
The course involves providing the knowledge in an interesting way and testing that knowledge by completing quizzes and questionaires to enable the participant progress through the course. There is a certificate of completion at the end, when the person taking the course has completed all of the quizzes and questionnaires successfully. The certificate issues in the name of the participant. This proves that they have completed the course successfully. This is useful from an employer's point of view, especially from a vicarious liability point of view. It shows that you have provided training for the employee and that they know the rules and obligations of general data protection regulation (GDPR).
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 below. It explains the position of home expenses and how they are dealt with as well as other matters. It usefully, defines e-working.
For more on the Right to Disconnect see
Download HSA document Position yourself well here
Download HSA DSE simple assessment form here
Download Revenue e-Working and Tax document here
Watch and download a slideshare presentation here
Watch our YouTube video
What about the lone worker?
As well as all of the requirements applicable to the average employee, the lone worker may face an increased security risk. Especially if they are handling cash, or other valuable items.
Make sure that you have a policy in place to deal with working hours, data protection and emergencies. The lone worker should be familiar with this policy.
Ensure that all remote work places are safe and secure.
Regularly review the safety of your remote employees. Ask them if they feel safe and what you can do to improve safety.
If your employee works in someone else's home or business premises, you still have a responsibility to ensure that they are working in a safe environment.
Where can I get more advice?
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