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Coronavirus: What are your rights if working from home?

11:52 18 March 2020 Author :  

Everyone should work from home if they can, according to stringent new measures in the UK to combat the spread of coronavirus.

For many people, homeworking will not be possible, but they still face the possibility of 14 days of self-isolation, under the guidelines announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

In the recent Budget, some changes were made to the sick pay system which they may need to fall back on.

There has been concern that people will be more likely to infect others if they do not have incentives to stay at home when they are at risk.

Who needs to work from home?

Everyone who can work from home should do so. That creates practical issues for employers and employees, but workers should be given clear guidance as to what that means for them.

In normal circumstances, anyone working from home should receive an assessment of their domestic workplace. Clearly, this will not be possible at present, but some rights can be made clear. For example, working hours can still be clearly defined, and staff should receive their normal pay.

Who provides the equipment?

An employer is responsible for equipment they supply, and must say what it should be used for.

The question of who covers the running costs should ideally be outlined as soon as possible, and would normally be part of any working from home agreement.

Given the current situation, extra costs, such as phone bills, may need to be claimed. Employers will need evidence, but can explain how the expenses system works, and whether these costs are taxable.

What about security?

Employees should only take home documents that are proportionate to their job, and should take particular care over safekeeping.

If personal laptops or mobile devices are used to connect to workplace servers, employers are advised to ensure these are through secure links. If it is particularly sensitive, work equipment should be supplied.

"The data commissioner will treat cyber and data breaches that happen whilst staff work from home in exactly the same way as if happened in the workplace, attracting the same penalties," warns James Medhurst, a senior associate in the employment law team at legal firm Royds Withy King./BBC

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