Perils of ending home working

Peninsula Team

July 02 2010

SN writes: I have three people who work from home but I want to bring all my staff under one roof. They live within a 20-mile radius, so do I issue a memo and ask them to start commuting to the office, and what do I do if they refuse? The employees are full time and have worked for me for more than five years.

The location of the place of work is a fundamental part of the contract and you cannot just change it unilaterally, writes Peter Done, managing director of Peninsula. What you can do depends on what your contract says about changing the place of work and if you have a mobility clause. If you have the right to move your staff, or it was a condition of home working that it could be withdrawn, you will need to activate the relevant clause. If you do not have the right to move them, you will have to negotiate.

You are asking them to spend time and expense on travelling to and from work that they do not have to do currently. This could have a significant impact on issues such as childcare, travel and parking costs.

You are also assuming that there will be no transport difficulties for these staff. The change could also seriously affect their free time.

You need to ask yourself why you want to introduce a blanket ban on home working. Have there been any difficulties with them working from home that you are trying to address? You need to talk to these employees about any issues and how to resolve your concerns. Discuss the options for resolving your concerns to see if you can deal with any problems without needing to prevent home working.

Ultimately, you can seek to enforce this change but you must understand that what you are talking about could be considered redundancy and so you would need to show why it was necessary to prevent home working. A blanket ban could put you in conflict with your obligations to consider flexible working.

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