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Insights

The risk of an all at home commute

Posted on 23rd March 2022 in Employment

Posted by

Stephen Jennings

Partner and Solicitor
The risk of an all at home commute

The Government’s Living with Covid strategy removed one of the final hurdles towards a return to full-time office working, but many are expected to continue working from home under the new regime.

The potential of reduced property costs combined with positive feedback about home-working from employees has seen many companies agreeing working arrangements which enable staff to continue to work from home all or part of the time. 

But despite the ending of many Covid-related mandatory requirements, welfare in the workplace remains a top priority, whether at home or company-owned premises. Companies have a legal obligation to protect workers from the risk of physical and mental wellbeing, wherever they are based.  

One recent case to hit headlines involved a German worker, who won a claim for injury after falling on the stairs to his home office. The Court ruled that taking the stairs at the start of the day to his home office was solely for the purpose of starting work and an insurable activity in the interest of the employer.   

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 requires employers to take all reasonable steps to ensure the safety of its employees to provide a safe place of work, a safe means of access to that place of work, a safe system of work, and safe plant and equipment. 

This includes conducting regular risk assessments of the working environment and where employers are unable to carry out a full risk assessment, it may involve asking employees to undertake a self-assessment of their workspace and equipment. Any changes needed for a safe and healthy environment are the responsibility of the employer. 

Organisations must also ensure that their insurance covers employees working from home and must ask individual employees to check there are no restrictions imposed on them working from home by their home insurer, mortgage provider or landlord.

As well as physical safety, mental wellbeing is high on the agenda, with the Health & Safety Executive saying that stress, depression, and anxiety constitute more than half of all new cases of work-related ill health. 

The Health and Safety Executive has guidance for employers on working from home arrangements and guidance on undertaking risk assessments

 

How can we help?

For further help and advice on the impact of Covid, working from home, or a return to the office on your workplace and employees please contact our specialist employment lawyers.

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