Types of Homeworkers
There are two types of homeworkers:
- Those who were specifically recruited on the understanding that they would be working from home.
- Those who were recruited to work in the organisation’s premises but have since been required to work from home.
There are common areas, but the employer has different health and safety responsibilities towards these two groups.
- The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
- The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992
- The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992
Health and Safety Myth
A Competent Person has been told that he needs to carry out a risk assessment for every single task that anyone performs within the company.
The instruction given to the Competent Person does not appear to have been very clear and has created some confusion. HSE's advice is very clearly that you do not need to perform a formal risk assessment for every task. Employers need to focus on real risks and how they will control them - the significant risks identified can all be recorded in one overall risk assessment, which should also include a note of the action you intend to take. Acting to control the real risks should be the priority, not drafting endless paperwork covering every task staff undertake.
Frequently asked questions
Talk to your employer. If it is safe to do so, ask your employer to visit you in your home to see if, between you, you can come up with a solution: is there equipment/furniture that your employer could supply you with that would provide a solution? If there is genuinely no suitable space to work from, then you will have to do the best you can with what’s available to you: reduced working hours, frequent breaks, a lap desk and laptop, so you can work sitting on a couch. If you have been asked to work from home when you usually work at your employer’s premises, it is up to your employer to find a solution.
As with the previous answers, the employer’s level of responsibility depends upon whether you were asked to change to working from home or whether you were employed on the understanding that you would be working from home. If your working arrangements have changed e.g. as happened during COVID-19, or if your employer downsizes and moves some workers to homeworking, then you must be given assistance with this issue. This assistance could be reduced working hours, permission to take frequent breaks, reassignment of duties so that interruptions are less stressful to deal with, regular contact, assistance with mental health issues that arise etc. If you were employed on the understanding that you would be working from home, then your employer has no responsibility to help with this problem, although it is to be hoped that you would at least get a sympathetic hearing.
Not necessarily, but you must inform your insurance company of the change in circumstances, even if it’s only temporary. If there is an increase in the price of your cover, your employer will have to pay this IF he or she has asked you to work from home, having originally employed you to work at the employer’s premises. But, if you have set yourself up as a homeworker, or you were employed on the understanding that you would be based at home, then you will have to pay the extra cost.