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WORKS Chairman’s view In our last newsletter, bonus schemes came under the spotlight when we urged employers to assess whether their bonus schemes are effective in motivating and rewarding staff. Since then, I have been reflecting on whether money on its own is enough to achieve a high level of staff performance. Whilst pay remains a driver for many and goes a long way to attract and retain the right people, over the last few years there has been a shift in priorities. Many people also want to be able to achieve a good balance between their personal life and work; in hard currency this usually means being able to work flexibly. This increasing need for flexibility has been marked by a number of key changes to employment legislation over the last few years. For example, all employees with more than 26 weeks’ service can request flexible working; parental leave can now be taken until a child reaches 18 years of age; and, more recently, the new shared parental leave rights allow parents to share caring responsibilities after the birth or adoption of a child. For many, a good work life balance is not just about addressing caring responsibilities but having the option to choose when and where they work. In view of this, along with the technological advances that have enabled more people to work away from their desks, homeworking has rapidly increased in popularity. Over 4 million people are working from home at least part of the time according to research published by the Office for National Statistics. At a very basic level, employees may have increased job satisfaction as they feel they are achieving a better work life balance; and employers may see homeworking as a quick and effective way of cutting overheads due to reduced office space. Homeworking may therefore be a positive step. Planning is however critical if this type of working practice is to be a success. In this edition, we will show you how to identify if homeworking is right for your organisation and consider some of the key factors involved in creating an effective homeworking strategy.

Floyd Graham

April 2016 0808 172 93 22

round up: EMPLOYER LIABLE FOR EMPLOYEE’S ASSAULT ON CUSTOMER The Supreme Court has found that Morrisons supermarket should be held responsible for injuries suffered by a customer arising from an attack by one of its employees. The reason for this decision was that although the assault was a gross abuse of the employee’s position, the attack occurred in connection with him carrying out his duties, i.e., serving the customer. Mohamud v WM Morrison Supermarkets plc [2016] UKSC

TRIBUNAL AWARDS ON THE UP From 6 April 2016, the maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal will be £78,962. The maximum week’s wage for the purpose of calculating a basic award or a statutory redundancy payment will be £479. Employment Rights (Increase Limits) Order 2016 (SI 2016/288)

GUIDANCE ON AVOIDING DISCRIMINATION IN ADVERTISING The Equality and Human Rights Commission, in response to an increasing number of complaints, has published guidance on how to avoid discriminatory advertising. The aim is to reduce the risk of people being denied access to jobs and services due to unlawful, discriminatory advertisements.

at a glance... the workplace to be: home? PAGE 2–3

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The workplace to be: home?

Advances in technology and globalisation are shifting the way organisations and staff want to work. Homeworking is just one response to these changes. For employers, the concept has provided a new opportunity to consider how both the organisation and its staff can benefit. With pressure on space, overheads such as rents, rates and utility bills may be reduced if less office space is needed. Employers have also reported an increase in productivity; staff feel committed and loyal and output rises as there are fewer interruptions. Given the wide ranging benefits, the next step may be to tell your staff to pack up and head off home. Employers should, however, remain focused on the needs of the business. Before coming to any firm decision, and not forgetting the possibility of a pilot scheme, consideration should be given to the following factors below, as these will help identify if homeworking can feed the needs of the business and shape an effective homeworking policy, if that is the way forward:



It is critical to establish at an early stage if a role is capable of being performed to the required high standards away from the workplace. Roles that are unlikely to be suitable for homeworking are those which: n r ely heavily on team work with all staff members present; nn  eed a greater degree of management input or supervision, for example, junior roles or apprenticeships where the emphasis is on learning and development; and n r equire specific equipment that would be impracticable or too costly to install at home. Good communication and the flexibility to attend meetings when necessary may still mean that a team can work effectively even when members are not permanently based in the office. JOB HOLDER’S SUITABILITY

Probably one of the hardest considerations is deciding who is eligible to work from home.

Will the right be limited to cases where the duty to make reasonable adjustments has been triggered because the employee has a disability or when a formal flexible working request has been made? Whatever the criteria, it is essential that they are applied fairly, consistently and do not expose the organisation to a discrimination claim. Staff who work successfully at home are likely to be highly motivated self-starters who will cope with working alone for long periods. It will also be key that they are able to distinguish work from their home life. THE MANAGEMENT OF STAFF

Inevitably, it is going to be harder for managers and supervisors to oversee work that is being

...establishing communication opportunities between managers and staff will also be crucial... carried out remotely, which means they will need to explore how they can ensure standards are maintained; establishing communication opportunities between managers and staff will also be crucial. TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT

Homeworkers should have the same access to training and development as site based staff. The regular appraisal process can be used to assess their needs.


Financial benefit is a principal consideration; homeworking is likely to achieve increased productivity or reduced overheads. Initial outlay costs may look expensive but long term gains may outweigh these. Often overlooked, but of equal importance, is whether any financial contribution will be made to the employee’s expenses such as heating and lighting bills and other costs associated with making adjustments where health and safety concerns have been identified. HEALTH AND SAFETY

Even if the employee is working from home the implied duty to protect their well–being and safety subsists. Health and safety risk assessments are a vital step before any homeworking starts. It is also important that staff do not feel cut off; over a long period of time this could have a detrimental effect upon their mental health. This type of risk can be minimised if employers recognise that extra support may be needed from time to time; keeping in touch and having a strong communication plan is essential. CHANGES TO THE CONTRACT OF EMPLOYMENT

Employees’ employment contracts must state their place of work and if this changes from a specified office base to home, even for part of the time, this should be amended in the contract. It is also sensible in most cases to ensure that the employee is required to attend the office from time to time, for example, to attend training and disciplinary hearings. The following should also be included in the contract: nH  ours of work – consideration should be given as to whether the homeworker will be required to be available for just core hours or for the same hours as those on site. nE  xpenses – details of the types of expenses that can be claimed. nR  ight to enter – the employer should reserve a right to enter the employee’s home, for example, to install, maintain and service its equipment, to recover its property on termination and to carry out risk assessments for health and safety purposes.




Employers may also want to include specific provisions concerning homeworkers’ confidentiality and data protection obligations – see below.



Being clear on how confidential and commercially sensitive information needs to be handled away from the workplace is fundamental in reducing the risk of unauthorised disclosure; and in most cases, organisations will also have additional obligations under data protection legislation wherever their employees are based.

Are you ready for the forthcoming pension changes: 1. B  e aware that the chan ges to pensions (par ticula rly, in relation to contrac tin g out) come into ef fec t on 6 April 2016. 2. T  ake advice on the implications for the organisation’s pension scheme. 3. Don’t forget you ma y need to consult with a view to reaching agreement wi th staff about any change s to their contrac ts of employment. 4. A  lways ensure that the separate duty under pension legislation, wh ich requires consultation wi th affec ted members or the ir representatives, is, where applicable, complied wi th. 5. T  here is no obligation on employers to notif y employees of tax chan ges; instead, advise employe es to obtain their own independent financial ad vice.

The principle that data must be stored securely is important; employers should consider ensuring employees have the following: na  secure filing cabinet; np  asswords and encryption; and n f acilities for confidential disposal. EMPLOYEE REPRESENTATION

Employers should ensure that all employees, including those who work from home, can take part in any consultation, i.e., where there is a redundancy situation. DISCRIMINATION ISSUES

One issue that employers are often reluctant to deal with, for fear of a sex discrimination or disability discrimination claim, is where an employee is working from home with the intention of caring for a child or an elderly relative. This should be tackled right from the start, when homeworking arrangements are agreed; it could be a condition of permitting homeworking that employees provide evidence that they have care arrangements in place that will permit them to work, rather than provide care during their working hours. COMMUNICATION, COMMUNICATION, COMMUNICATION

You will see from the above that communication is vital. If employers set out a clear homeworking policy covering the elements above, it is possible to achieve both increased productivity and happier employees. PAGE 4

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FGWorks April 2016  

Welcome to FGWorks! The newsletter of FG Solicitors - Lawyers for today's employers.

FGWorks April 2016  

Welcome to FGWorks! The newsletter of FG Solicitors - Lawyers for today's employers.