This month, we are delighted to feature a guest blog from Helen Goldberg, COO of LegalEdge, who offer a practical, affordable legal solution for growing companies, particularly in the technology sector, and with whom Postlethwaite has collaborated with when looking after clients for a number of years.
Workplace policies ensure that everyone in your organisation understands what is expected of them and others. They can provide information and guidance on your mission, values, benefits and rules, and, although not usually binding, they can also be helpful in the event of a dispute, so it’s worth investing in them.
LegalEdge, flexible in-house lawyers, have put together this checklist of what to include in a hybrid working policy as we emerge from the Covid pandemic and this new way of working becomes the norm.
If you have any questions or need help implementing or updating policies please contact LegalEdge at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- To preserve the flexibility to change the policy in the future the policy should state clearly that it is non-contractual and may be amended at the employer’s discretion.
Access for Staff
- State if the policy applies to all staff, or whether staff will have to request hybrid working and it’s to be decided on a case-by-case basis.
- Identify any roles/departments that are not eligible for hybrid working (for example, where operational requirements need someone onsite all the time).
- It may be reassuring for staff if the policy starts with a statement of support for hybrid working and says that employees won’t be discriminated against if they don’t work full-time in the office. You should make sure you have the HR framework in place to monitor and enforce this.
Process for requests
- Set out any process for agreeing new working arrangements – will this be the same as any existing flexible working procedure or, something less or more prescriptive?
Ratio of home to office working
- Will staff be able to decide, perhaps in agreement with colleagues or in response to client needs, where they work on certain days? Can this be totally ad hoc, or will they need to commit to some sort of regular pattern?
- Alternatively, set parameters within which staff must operate, such as a minimum number of days/hours in the office/at home. Consider, how this will be recorded and monitored, or whether you just trust people?
- Be clear that if a request to change working arrangements is approved (either immediately, or after an agreed trial period) this will entail a permanent change to the employee’s contract and they won’t be able to change it again without agreement (unless agreed otherwise at the time of the change).
- Does remote working mean only working at an individual’s home or will they be permitted to work elsewhere, for example at a second or rented home or other accommodation, either in the UK or abroad?
- If staff are also allowed to work in public places such as cafés or shared spaces, consider any extra security/confidentiality measures needed.
- International remote working is a different and legally complex topic – be sure you understand the legal and tax risks before agreeing to it.
Insurers and other third parties
- Ensure staff that work from home, for whatever proportion of time, check it won’t cause problems with their mortgage provider, landlord or home insurer. You should also review your own insurance to ensure it will continue to cover staff working away from the office on a regular basis.
Access by the employer
- Make it clear when access to an individual’s home may be required, for example for an initial risk assessment of the home workspace, to set-up equipment, for maintenance, to retrieve property at the end of employment, etc.
Availability and responsiveness
- State when staff will be expected to be working when at home – is it a blanket 9-5 requirement or, will individuals be able to set their own schedule, perhaps within core hours? Do you need to include specific rules on response times?
- Avoiding stress and anxiety that may be caused by isolation is likely to be a requirement of an employer’s health and safety duty. Therefore, consider including a guaranteed minimum amount of contact time from managers. Alternatively, individuals may be asked to make regular contact with the employer.