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What are my health and safety responsibilities as an employer while my staff members work from home?

Employers’ responsibilities regarding their staff members’ (eg employees’, workers’, and volunteers’) health and safety while they work from home are the same as when these staff members are working in their usual workplace. This applies to anyone who works fully remote (ie they always work from home or other locations outside of the employer’s workplace) and to anyone who works under a hybrid model (ie working partially at home and partially on the employer’s premises). This means that an employer must take all reasonable steps that are necessary to ensure the health and safety of their staff members, both those working on the employer’s premises and those working remotely. 

Part of meeting these obligations involved conducting a risk assessment to identify any risks posed to staff members by hazards involved in their work or workplace. When a staff member works remotely, these risk assessments should specifically consider risks associated with working remotely and the employer should take measures to mitigate the likelihood of these risks causing harm. 

For more information on an employer’s general health and safety duties, read Health and safety.

Multiple pieces of legislation set out the key health and safety obligations that employers must abide by. The key responsibility is the duty of care that an employer owes to their workers, which requires that they take reasonable steps to ensure their safety. These key pieces of legislation include:

The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974

The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 sets out employers’ key health and safety duty: employers must take all reasonable steps to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of all staff while they’re at work. This includes those who work remotely. Key aspects of this duty involve providing a safe workplace and safe equipment, even when these are at a staff member’s home.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require that employers carry out risk assessments to identify any hazards posed by a staff member’s work and their work environment. This includes the work done by home workers. Employers must also take steps to remove the risks that they identify. Where this is not 'reasonably practicable' (ie taking measures to remove the risks would be disproportionate to the seriousness or likelihood of the hazard identified), the risks should be minimised

Risk assessments should include checking whether the ventilation, temperature, lighting, floor, space, chair, desk, workstation and computer in a staff member’s home working set up are suitable for the tasks being performed. A record must usually also be kept of the findings of the risk assessment and the risks should be regularly reviewed (eg by conducting new risk assessments).

If it’s not appropriate for an employer to carry out a risk assessment at a staff member’s home, they should ask their staff members to carry out risk self-assessments by providing them with the business’ usual risk assessment checklist. Employers should ensure that risk assessments cover the usual risks associated with a staff member’s role, as well as any specific risks associated with their working from home.

Staff are also responsible for maintaining a safe environment and they must inform their employer if any measures that have been taken to reduce risks turn out to be ineffective.

For more information, read Risk assessments at work.

The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992

Employers have specific responsibilities related to staff members’ Display Screen Equipment (DSE) use (eg use of laptops, smartphones, and other screens). These are set out in the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992. Employers must conduct workstation assessments for 'DSE users' (ie those who regularly use DSE as part of their daily work for continuous periods of one hour or more) to identify risks related to DSE use (eg risks to staff members' eyesight). Employers must take measures to reduce any identified risks, for example, making sure staff take breaks from DSE work to do something different or providing training and information.

For more information, read Health and safety when working with display screen equipment (DSE).

The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR) 

The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR) impose a duty on employers to report and keep records of certain workplace accidents. RIDDOR requires reporting and record keeping for:

  • certain serious workplace accidents (eg those that result in death or serious injury)

  • gas-related incidents

  • certain occupational diseases

  • specified dangerous occurrences (there are many of these including, for example, fires or structural collapses)

Reports must be made by a ‘responsible person’ who can be the employer, a self-employed person, or another person who is in control of work premises (with some variation depending on which type of work-related incident has occurred). Qualifying incidents which occur at a staff member’s home while they are working from home must be reported as they would be if they occurred in the workplace.  

For more information, read RIDDOR and accident reporting.

The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981

The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 require employers to make provisions for first aid by making sure adequate first aid equipment is available to staff members and by making sure competent, trained people are able to administer it when needed. Employers must also inform staff of the arrangements they’ve made in connection with first-aid.

These obligations still apply when a staff member is working from home. For example, depending on the nature of a staff member’s work, it may be appropriate for an employer to make sure that they have access to a basic first aid kit and first aid training, or access to a phone to call an ambulance.

For more information, read First aid obligations for employees working from home and lone workers.

What are some specific risks I should take into consideration as an employer?

If working from home is new for a staff member, they may not have the necessary equipment and set-up for remote working. This can give rise to an increased risk of suffering from work-related upper limb disorders and other health issues, such as back and neck pain.

Working from home can also cause staff members to experience increased stress levels, isolation, and insufficient levels of support. Employers should keep in touch with staff members working from home and should maintain regular contact to make sure that they are healthy and safe. 

Where the staff member is a new or expectant mother, you must account for risks to the child in addition to those to the mother. 

For more information, read How to support remote workers.

What are some practical steps I can take to mitigate identified risks?

General mitigation should start with an employer providing staff members with the appropriate training and equipment for their work. They should also ensure staff members are aware of the employer’s Health and safety policy and the procedures that it outlines. 

It’s also important for employers to review their employer’s liability insurance policies to ensure that any accidents or injuries suffered by staff members while working from home are covered.

In all circumstances, employers should adopt and implement a clear Remote working policy (whether a Working from home policy, a Hybrid working policy, or a Temporary working from home policy) that provides clear guidance to staff members on available working arrangements.

Physical health

Employers should ensure that their staff members have all the necessary equipment and information to work safely from home. Staff members may experience pain if they do not have the right working equipment. For example, staff members may develop back aches and back problems if they have unsuitable workstations (especially chairs and desks) in their home. Employers should provide the correct equipment to enable their staff members to safely work from home. 

Employers may also wish to offer additional equipment to improve staff members’ workstations, such as: 

  • standing desks or desks that can be converted into standing desks

  • office chairs

  • walking treadmills (to be used in conjunction with standing desks) 

  • laptop stands

  • ergonomic seat cushions (to help with a healthy posture) 

Employers must also make sure to comply with their equal opportunities duties, especially with regard to any disabilities which require reasonable adjustments.

Display screen equipment (DSE)

Employers may have staff members who are display screen equipment (DSE) users, ie who regularly use DSE (eg PCs, laptops, tablets, or smartphones) for continuous periods of one hour or more. If so, it’s good practice to provide them with guidance on the best DSE practices and on the best way to set up their workstations. Employers should also encourage staff members to take breaks between long spells of screen time and to get up to do some stretching exercises. This can help to mitigate risks related to eyesight and physical pain caused by DSE use (eg back and neck pain). For more information on employers’ obligations related to DSE, read Health and safety when working with display screen equipment (DSE).

Occupational stress and mental health

Employers should have procedures in place to keep in touch with staff members. When keeping in touch, an employer should, when appropriate, discuss ways to manage occupational stress. You can provide support and guidance and ensure that staff members have an opportunity to voice their concerns. For example, employers could hold regular meetings via phone calls or video conferences. 

Ways to reduce an staff member’s occupational stress include: 

  • offering flexible working hours to accommodate personal tasks, for example, caring for children and/or unwell family members 

  • adjusting performance targets to reflect their situation

  • encouraging the staff member to establish routines and a regular work structure

Similarly, employers should make sure to support their staff members’ mental health and wellbeing, as threats to these may be exacerbated by the isolation of working remotely. In addition to regularly speaking to remote staff members, employers should, for example, encourage staff members to:

  • openly speak to their managers about their workloads and about how they’re feeling

  • take regular breaks during the day and use their annual leave

  • follow a routine (eg not revisiting their computers outside their regular working hours)

For more information, read How to support remote workers and How to support mental health and wellbeing in the workplace.

As with physical health, employers must also ensure they provide reasonable adjustments for any mental health conditions that amount to a disability.

What are staff members’ responsibilities?

Staff members must cooperate with employers and report all employment-related hazards to the relevant person (eg their line manager or a member of the HR team).

Staff members also have a responsibility to take reasonable care of their own health and safety. This continues while they are working from home. They should keep in regular contact with their employer and should tell their manager about any health and safety risks and about any Home-working arrangements that need to change.

It’s important to note that employers only have to take reasonable steps to mitigate risks and, when it comes to the physical state of staff members’ homes, employers are only responsible for matters that are within their control. 


If you have any questions or concerns about health and safety and remote working, do not hesitate to Ask a lawyer.

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