If you work from home, you still enjoy many employment rights, as long as you are not classed as self-employed. You cannot be forced to work from home if your original contract did not cover this; this would be a fundamental breach of your contract. Also you cannot demand that you be allowed to work from home either. If you have a disability it might be a reasonable adjustment to allow you to work from home for a while to assist a return to work, and you can request it.
There are broadly two types – someone who occasionally works from home, but mainly has a place of work – and those who only work at home.
In both situations it is important to agree certain issues with your Employer before you agree to work at home.
Ideally your Employer will have some written guidelines covering those who work from home. If not it is worth asking for some!
Some of the issues to consider are:
- Are there any restrictions on you working from home – in your lease or deeds for example?
- You are covered by Health and Safety rules. Your Employer should still carry out a risk assessment – which of course may well involve access to your home, or as a minimum asking you to complete a written risk assessment form.
- The results should be recorded, and reviewed from time to time.
- If you are provided with tools, equipment and components these are covered under health and safety laws and must be safe for you to work with.
- Establish times of contact and/or home visits from your Employer, You have the right to privacy, and to respect for your home life – under the Human Rights Act!
- Check out first aid and fire precautions around your home
- Check that your Household Insurance (buildings and contents) cover you if you work from home. If your premium goes up…who pays?
- You are still covered by the Working Time regs, so you will qualify for holiday pay and the 48 hour weekly limit
- You are still covered by the Minimum Wage rules (see the “Pay Rights” section
- If you work on a computer, laptop or similar display screen equipment, this should be subject to a workplace assessment by your Employer on a regular basis, probably each year.
- There should be rules on confidentiality and data protection clearly set out.
- Agree things like the extra costs of heating, insurance and lighting and a contribution to the phone bill (unless a separate line is used)
- How often do you need to go in to the “office”, ie visit your Employer? can you claim travel expenses for attending meetings etc?
- How is your performance going to be assessed when there is little or no direct supervision?
- If you are paid purely by output – that is the number of items you produce – new rights came in as part of the Minimum Wage 2004. You must receive the Minimum Wage for every hour you work (see “your Pay Rights” section of this site for more on this), or the Employer must ensure that your “piece rate” is fairly calculated. You are entitled to know how long the “average” worker should take to complete the task you are doing, and the minimum wage should then apply to that time.