What is a Temporary Working From Home Policy?
Employers can use a Temporary Working From Home Policy to inform their employees about their approach to temporary home working in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Temporary Working From Home Policies communicate employee expectations and employer responsibilities (eg for employees’ health and safety) relevant to homeworkers.
When should I use a Temporary Working From Home Policy?
Use this Temporary Working From Home Policy:
if your business has employees
when your employees have been asked to temporarily work from home due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic
for workplaces based in England and Wales only
About Temporary Working From Home Policies
Learn more about making your Temporary Working From Home Policy
How to make a Temporary Working From Home Policy
Making your Temporary Working From Home Policy online is simple. Just answer a few questions and Rocket Lawyer will build your document for you. When you have all of the information prepared in advance, creating your document is a quick and easy process.
You’ll need the following information:
Working hours and holidays
Are employees required to work their usual hours when working from home?
If not, during which core hours should employees be working? For example, 11:00am to 2:00pm.
Will the employer be able to tell employees to take specific days off as annual leave if, for example, the employer decides to close the business for a period of time?
Will the employer be able to cancel any annual leave that employees have booked during this time?
Other employment policies
Insurance and expenses
Will the employer cover any additional telephone and broadband expenses that employees incur due to their working from home?
Will the employer cover any other work-related expenses that employees incur due to their working from home?
If so, up to what limit?
Will the employer cover any additional insurance premiums required by employees’ insurance cover (eg home and contents insurance) due to their working from home?
Common terms in a Temporary Working From Home Policy
Temporary Working From Home Policies communicate information about guidelines and employer and employee responsibilities for temporary working from home arrangements. To do this, this Temporary Working From Home Policy template includes the following terms and sections:
Statement of purpose and policy
The Policy starts by clearly identifying the Policy’s purpose: communicating guidelines and information about working from home on a temporary basis as requested by the employer in reaction to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The employer’s right to change this Policy at any time is also set out (ie the Policy does not form part of any employee’s Employment contract).
Who does this Policy cover?
Hours of work
This section sets out whether employees’ regular hours or work will apply when they’re working from home or whether they will not (ie so only specified core hours must be worked and employees can choose when they work the remainder of their hours). If employees are required to work regular hours, they will be informed that they can make Flexible working requests if they want to request other arrangements.
This section also reminds employees to take rest breaks when working from home and to contact their line managers to discuss any difficulties with working hours (eg fitting them around childcare commitments).
Communicating with your line manager
Next, the Policy asks that employees and line managers keep in regular contact in various ways (eg via calls and emails) and that any concerns about what to do when working from home or about feeling isolated or unsupported are communicated.
Equipment and materials
This section asks employees to tell their line managers if they are using any of their own equipment or materials and whether they need any additional equipment or materials in order to work from home. It notes that the employer will do their best to facilitate such requests, but does not oblige the employer to provide anything.
Guidelines for handling any equipment that is provided are also set out. For example, this equipment will remain the employer’s property and should be taken care of and only used for work-related purposes. If equipment is damaged beyond ordinary wear and tear, employees will be responsible for this damage.
Here the Policy sets out whether the employer covers any additional expenses incurred due to employees working from home or not. If the employer is covering expenses beyond reasonable telephone and internet charges, a limit on these additional expenses will be specified here.
You can use an expense-policy to set out which expenses employees may and may not claim in more detail.
This section informs employees that they may be able to claim tax relief on their household expenses when these are incurred due to working from home. It provides a link to the Government’s guidance on this tax relief.
This section outlines employees’ responsibilities for ensuring that information and equipment that they work with are kept secure while they’re working from home. This is done in part by reference to employment policies that the employer may have in place (eg a Data protection and data security policy).
Health and safety
Employees’ responsibilities to uphold their and others’ health and safety at work is set out here, including the requirement that employees follow health and safety instructions and, if one is in place, the employer’s Health and safety policy. Specific requirements relevant to home working are set out, for example, ensuring home workstations are safe and appropriate.
Here employees are asked to follow the employer’s sickness-policy if they’re sick and unable to work. Employees are also asked to consider the Government’s guidance for people with symptoms of respiratory infections including Coronavirus (COVID-19).
This section explains that employees should continue to book and use their annual leave entitlements as usual when working from home. If the employer is allowed to require employees to take annual leave at certain times or to require them to cancel leave that they’ve booked during the temporary working from home period, this is set out here alongside the applicable notice periods for such instructions.
Employees’ right to carry over up to 4 weeks of their annual leave entitlement when it’s unable to be used due to Coronavirus (COVID-19) is also set out here.
Here employees are asked to check that their home and contents insurance cover is adequate considering that they are working from home. If the employer is covering any additional premiums required, this is set out here.
Termination of home working
Lastly, the Policy explains that the working from home arrangements in place are temporary and that the employer will communicate when they are to end.
If you want your Temporary Working From Home Policy to include further or more detailed provisions, you can edit your document. However, if you do this, you may want a lawyer to review the document for you (or to make the changes for you) to make sure that your modified Policy complies with all relevant laws. Use Rocket Lawyer’s Ask a lawyer service for assistance.
Legal tips for employers
Always comply with health and safety laws
This Temporary Working From Home Policy sets out some basic provisions on health and safety for employees working from home. Health and safety is an important area of law and compliance with it is essential for helping employers to be conscientious. Compliance also reduces the risk of legal cases being brought against the employer for breaches of their health and safety duties. To help you meet your obligations as an employer, make sure that you’re fully aware of your health and safety obligations. Start by:
To make sure that you care for the health and safety of employees working from home, consider:
reading our guidance on Health and safety responsibilities for staff working from home
creating a Lone working policy, to set out how you handle the health and safety of employees working alone, including home workers
You should also be sure to regularly carry out risk assessments.
Also ensure that employees are safe when they return to your workplace by considering any risks the return will carry. A Return to work risk assessment can help you to do this.
Consider making long-term provisions for home working
Allowing working from home on a regular basis can be a useful strategy for employers. It can help employees to obtain a better work-life balance, increasing their happiness and productivity, and can make any jobs you’re advertising more appealing to a wider range of prospective candidates. To set out your long-term provisions for home working, you could make a Working from home policy.
Understand when to seek advice from a lawyer
In some circumstances, it’s good practice to Ask a lawyer for advice to ensure that you’re complying with the law and that you are well protected from risks. You should consider asking for advice if:
this Policy doesn't meet your needs or doesn’t cover what you want
your employees don't agree with the Temporary Working From Home Policy
you’re not sure if working from home due to Coronavirus (COVID-19) is still appropriate for your workplace
Temporary Working From Home Policy FAQs
What should a Temporary Working From Home Policy Include?
Why do I need a Temporary Working From Home Policy?
If your employees are going to be working from home on a temporary basis, it’s important that your expectations and guidelines for employees during this time are clearly set out. You can use a Temporary Working From Home Policy to do this.
Moreover, employers have the same health and safety responsibilities for home workers as any for those working on the business’ premises. This applies regardless of whether employees are home working on a temporary or a long-term basis. Creating a Temporary Working From Home Policy helps you to set out how you will uphold these responsibilities. For more information, read Health and safety for employees working from home during Coronavirus (COVID-19).
What are employers’ health and safety obligations?
The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 requires employers to take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure the health, safety and welfare at work of all of their employees, including employees who work from home.
This duty covers various aspects of a workplace, including providing a safe place of work and safe equipment and work systems. Employers should consider specific risks that home workers face when they conduct risk assessments (ie evaluations of risks workers face during work and of how they are and can be managed). For more information, read Health and safety, Health and safety for employees working from home during Coronavirus (COVID-19), and Employer first aid obligations for employees working from home and lone workers.
What do an employer’s health and safety obligations include?
Employers should be aware of their specific obligations under health and safety law. Some of the most important of these obligations are:
encouraging employees to liaise with their line managers to ensure their workstations are appropriate and that employees are working in a safe manner
reminding employees to take responsibility for their own health and safety and that of anyone else in their homes who is affected by their work
requiring employees to notify their line managers if they feel any discomfort due to working from home (eg back pain) or if they feel that there are any work-related health and safety hazards. Line managers should then be instructed to escalate any matters to Human Resources (or similar) and to look into what action can be taken
informing employees that there are steps they can take to achieve a comfortable posture while working from home on display screen equipment (DSE).
providing guidelines about safe working practices to help prevent accidents and injuries, including musculoskeletal injuries
reminding employees to follow the usual reporting procedures. For example, for any work-related accidents that occur in their homes or for reporting sickness
For more information, read Health and safety and Health and safety for employees working from home during Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Do employers need to provide employees with equipment when they’re working from home?
It may not be possible to provide everyone with the ideal equipment for working from home and employers are not obliged to do this. However, employers should provide equipment where this is needed for employees with a disability. You should take each request on a case-by-case basis.