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Guidance on recent changes to employers’ obligations around COVID 19

Working From Home – It’s not a must… Key things you need to know about the new rules

It’s disappointing to be sending this update to you but it’s important that you know what the latest government guidance on working from home means for you.

Firstly, it is not a return to “you must work from home”.   The guidance issued overnight states that from Monday 13 December, 2021 office workers who can work from home should do so from Monday 13 December. However it also makes clear that if employees cannot work from home because for example, they have to access equipment necessary to carry out their role or you need them to be in the office to complete their role “in-person” then they should continue to go into the workplace.

What does “in-person working” mean? It applies where it’s regarded as necessary to be in the workplace to continue to provide “effective and accessible delivery of some public services and private industries”.

The guidance also states that employers should consider whether home working is appropriate for workers “facing mental or physical health difficulties, or those with a particularly challenging home working environment”.  Taken together this enables employers to assess each role on a case by case basis and decide if a role must be carried out in the office and not at home.

If employees need to continue to go into work, the guidance also says employees should consider taking lateral flow tests regularly to manage their own risk and the risk to others and the government will continue to issue guidance on working safely in the workplace.

What do employers need to do next ?

Employers will once again have to consider whether or not a role can be performed from home and discuss it with their employees.  In view of the latest guidance, employers will also have to review their Covid-19 risk assessments and update the risk assessments after consulting and sharing them with staff.  If you employ over 50 employees then the government expects you to publish the risk assessment on your website too.

We are aware that physiotherapists have seen a huge rise in the number if neck and back injuries as a result of inappropriate working spaces at home.  As employers remain liable for making sure the workspace is safe to work in at home, it’s again important to make sure you have carried out a remote working risk assessment as this will also influence a decision as to whether or not the employee can carry out their work at home.

If you need help with this get in contact with us on 0203 6675 400 or download our remote working support pack.