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Employment law for employees & Employment law for employers

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: Working From Home (again)

A government campaign was launched in early August to actively encourage employees to return to the workplace in an attempt to boost the wider economy and revitalise city centres that had been left empty after months of lockdown. However, within two months, the pandemic appears to have taken a turn for the worse and the government announced yesterday that once again people should work from home wherever possible…

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According to the Office of National Statistics, on 13 September, the number of people travelling into the workplace was more than triple those working from home (62% and 20% respectively). Before August the number of people travelling to work and those working from home was fairly evenly split, so we anticipate that the numbers of those home working will increase once more. .

Although it may be tempting to think that things were starting to return to normal, employers must not lose sight of the duty owed to their workers to provide a safe work environment.

It is important to remember that whilst employees return to (or continue) working from home that employers owe a duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of their employees regardless of where they carry out their work.  This includes ensuring that there are sufficient provisions in place for employees to work from home safely. Employers should consider conducting health and safety assessments for each member of staff including providing appropriate equipment such as a supportive chair.  The duty does not disappear just because the employee is not ‘at work’.

For those workplaces that remain in use because workers cannot work from home, employers must continue to take all necessary precautions to protect their workers from contracting the virus.. For information about  measures that employers could put in place to make their workplace as ‘Covid-secure’ as possible, please see our ‘Returning to the Workplace Safely’ guide here for our top 10 tips, or for the full government guidance please click here.

Finally, employers should not put unreasonable pressure on employees to come into work if it is not necessary for them to do so as we continue, once again, to be told to work from home wherever possible. .

If you have any questions about who can still go into the office, employees’ health and safety, working from home more generally or any other employment related queries then the Collyer Bristow Employment Team is on hand to help.

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Kathryn Burke

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kathryn.burke@collyerbristow.com