Working From Home Legal Requirements in the UK

What are the legal requirements when it comes to working from home in the UK? During the pandemic, the mass transition to working from home meant a lot of changes – for employees and employers alike. And, some of these questions remain. 

In this article, we will go over all the requirements that an employer needs to consider when it comes to working from home and the UK’s unique legal requirements.

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Working From Home Employment Contracts 

There are quite a bit of employment contract elements that need to be revisited when it comes to working from home. Employers should first take into consideration the following four elements…

  1. Working Hours: When working from home, employees may not automatically work from 9-5 (or 8-4). As an employer, you will need to set clear working hours and even clearer boundaries of ‘work time’ and ‘away time’ so that employees don’t spend more than 48 hours a week on work

  2. Covered Expenses: Moving from an office to a home office can incur some additional costs: lighting, internet, heat and gas. As an employer, you should discuss with your employees what expenses will be covered. 

  3. Data Protection and Privacy: As an employer, you need to have safety protocols in place for all of your employees when it comes to data protection. Update all of your data protection protocols to ensure the highest standards (without intruding on the privacy of your employees).

  4. Place of Work: As an employer, if an employee changes their place of residence, they should update you as soon as possible. Also, notify your employees that they need to have permission from their landlords if they wish to work from home. 

Health and Safety: What UK Law States About Homeworking

An employer is responsible for their employee's health and safety even if they’re working from home. So even though you can’t barge into people’s houses to conduct risk assessments, you can still implement certain measures that will help you improve their health and safety conditions: 

  • Managers should help employees find a safe working environment where they can accomplish their work in a safe manner.

  • Employers should have regular contact and communication with their remote work employees in order for the employees not to feel isolated or alone.

  • An employer should provide the necessary equipment to employees so that they can do their jobs properly.

Pay and Terms of Employment for Homeworkers

When it comes to pay, employees who are working the same number of hours as they did when they were in the office need to be paid the same. They can’t get paid less simply because they’re working from home (if they’re working the same amount of hours). 

As an employer, you need to ensure that employees don’t work more than the maximum allowed number of 48 hours a week of work. 

This can mostly become a problem for some employees who can’t create a clear boundary between work time and free time when they’re working from home. 

Some employees won’t have any problems adjusting to working from home, but a majority of your workforce will need some kind of assistance so be prepared to offer it. 

Read our article on the importance of work-life balance and how to enable it.

Can an Employer Deny a Work From Home Request?

An employer may deny a work-from-home request from their employee if there’s a business case for rejection. The process is as follows: 

  • The employee requests the right to work from home

  • The employer assesses the request in a reasonable manner

  • If the request is: 

    • Granted, the employee can start working from home

    • Declined, the employee can go through an appeal process

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Work From Home Benefits for Organisations

There are many benefits for both the employers and the employees to work from home: 

  • Higher Productivity: Employees who are working from home don’t have as many distractions as they would in the workplace. 

  • Lower Overhead Costs: Companies no longer have to rent out massive business spaces where their employees come to work on a daily basis. This results in less long-term overhead for the business. 

  • More Engaged Workforce: An employee who doesn’t have to spend at least 45 minutes on the tube daily will find themselves more engaged and more satisfied.

Here are the four most frequently asked questions when it comes to the legality of working from home:

What Should Be Included in Work From Home Employment Contracts?

An employer should at least define working hours, what expenses are covered and data protection protocols. 

What Does UK Law State About Health and Safety for Homeworkers?

UK law states that an employer is responsible for their employees and should ensure that the all employees have a safe and secure place to work.

Can an Employer Refuse Working From Home?

Yes, they can. However, the employees can still make an appeal.

What Expenses Should My Employer Pay if I Work From Home UK?

Employers should cover the equipment and supplies necessary for the employee to work from home. It’s not uncommon for the employer to also cover gas, internet or electricity bills for their employees who work from home.

Working From Home Is The New Normal

Implementing a work from home policy in your organisation can be a daunting task. To open up time for more strategic tasks, like embedding hybrid work, consider an HR software to help streamline all of your other important processes. Try Personio for 14 days right now.

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