Employers have a duty of care, statutory and common law, for the health and safety of their employees whenever and wherever they are at work. A duty which applies to those employed as homeworkers even though they are working in their own homes.
In practice employers must ensure that any equipment they provide is safe and fit for purpose. They must also assess the health and safety hazards and risks to the employee whist working at home. For this reason it can be worthwhile including in the contract of employment a right to visit the worker’s home to perform risk assessments, equipment maintenance or to resolve any difficulties.
Where the work involves the use of IT equipment it is particularly important that the assessment includes the use of display screen equipment and workstation. There must be sufficient workspace, the equipment must be able to be properly set-up for use; and the legal requirements about eye testing and the provision of glasses for IT work apply. Check that the electrical supply is adequate and that the equipment can be supplied without using trailing extension leads. Make sure that lighting is adequate.
Home workers are also lone workers so arrangements must be in place for the employee to contact the employer in case of an accident or incident. Employers will need to keep records of any serious accidents, illnesses or injuries occurring in respect of homeworkers (reporting them to the authorities where required) and monitor working hours and rest breaks – to ensure that excessive hours are not worked and that flexibility is not abused.
Working at home and alone can be stress inducing so consideration should also be given to normal management issues such as communication of company developments, promotion opportunities, training and monitoring of performance. It is sensible to retain a right to require the worker to attend the employer’s place of business for specified reasons or for a certain number of days per year.
Specific guidance about and checklists for home working is available to Peninsula’s Business Safety clients in Guidance Note 1-18, Home Working.
For further clarification please contact the Peninsula Advice Service on 0844 892 2772.