I'd like to work from home, says an employee. Now what?
Conversations about employees working from home were once very short. In those rare instances where employees did venture to enquire about the possibility, the answer was usually an automatic ‘no’.
Times have changed. According to figures from the Office for National Statistics, there are now around 4.2 million home-based workers in the UK—roughly a trebling since 1998. Many use their home as a base, but work in different places. But around a third work only at home.
So clearly, those conversations are happening more frequently.
Not just returnees from maternity or adoption leave
The odds, then, are that you might have had such a conversation. Or might be about to have such a conversation. Employees returning from maternity or adoption leave, for instance, may make such a request.
If employers receive such a request from an employee returning from maternity or adoption leave, they are obliged to consider it. And if they decline the request, then they are obliged to decline it for one of eight statutory reasons.
But in our experience, requests for employees to work from home don’t just come from employees returning from maternity leave. For many other reasons—some associated with care provision, some not—employers are receiving requests from other employees about the possibility of working from home.
And as working from home becomes more acceptable, the pace of those requests is accelerating. Especially in the case of short periods of home working in order to resolve a period of domestic or personal difficulty—travel difficulties, perhaps, or a sick relative.
So what to do about such requests?
Here at The Legal Director, our advice is firstly not to feel under pressure to accede to the request. Whilst all employees with at least 6 months service can make a request to work flexibly (which could include working from home), employers are not obliged to agree to any such request. However, employers must ensure that they are seen to deal with the request reasonably, and in line with the statutory framework.
In any event, it’s sensible for employers to treat their staff with respect, and to give any requests due consideration. After all, if the alternative to—say—a short period of home working, undertaken for personal reasons, is to lose a valuable employee, then that short period of home working may be the better option.
Moreover, employers will want to show that they have treated staff equally—and if they have previously acceded to a request for home working from one or more employees, they will need to think carefully about their reasons for declining subsequent requests.
Otherwise, there’s a risk that an employee may feel discriminated against.
A home working policy
That’s why, here at The Legal Director, we think that it’s sensible for firms to have a home working policy.
Such a policy need not be long or complicated. But it will provide a framework for considering requests for home working, and provide a sensible and consistent basis for refusing such requests when it is appropriate to do so.
Is the request for full-time home working, or part-time, perhaps to help with a domestic difficulty? Is it even possible for the person involved to actually carry out their work from home? And to carry it out to a satisfactory standard? How will they be supervised? How will their interactions with other employees be affected? Do they have supervisory responsibilities for other employees, and if so, how will these be affected?
Then there are practical considerations to take into account. Does the employee possess suitable equipment for working from home—such as a dedicated computer? If not, who pays for such equipment? What about data security? What about suitable working facilities—or are confidential papers going to spread over the kitchen table when a neighbour calls by?
Health and safety is another concern, and before approving a home working request, an employer might want to satisfy themselves, via a home visit, that safe working is genuinely possible.
The individual dimension
Another important consideration is the individual employee concerned.
As we’ve seen, it may make sense for an employer to accede to a home working request, even in circumstances where they might have ordinarily been minded to refuse the request, if it appeared that an employee who made a valuable contribution to the business would otherwise leave.
Likewise, an employer will want to think about an employee’s employment history with the firm. Have there been attendance issues? Timekeeping issues? Performance issues? Such a track record may make an employer think twice.
Remember: the employer doesn’t have to accede to home working requests, but will want to provide consistent and robust reasons for both acceding to such requests, and turning them down.
Home working: the bottom line
Requests from employees to work from home are becoming more common. And responsible employers aren’t going to want to respond to them with a blanket ‘no’.
But equally, employers know that they need to respond to such requests consistently, so as to avoid charges of discrimination, or failure to follow the statutory procedure in dealing with the request.
Having a home working policy helps to provide that element of consistency, by providing a consistent framework for evaluating and deciding upon such requests.
So if you don’t currently have a home working policy, and you’re worried about how to evaluate and respond to any home working requests that you might receive, then The Legal Director can help.
To start the conversation, call us on 020 3053 8613 or email email@example.com
Posted Monday, January 8th, 2018 by Warren RylandTweet
Other Articles In This Category
- The hidden dangers of Christmas parties
It’s the season for Christmas parties. And, as an employer, you may well be holding one for your staff—a Christmas party is, after all, a popular way of... read more
3rd of December 2018 by Warren Ryland
- Managing external legal providers: 3 pointers to a better outcome
In an earlier blog, we looked at how best to instruct external legal providers—providers such as barristers, solicitors, or legal consultants. Why? Because... read more
5th of November 2018 by Warren Ryland
- Can your staff verbally modify your contracts?
It’s a common enough scenario. You have a contract with one of your key suppliers, and you—or one of your staff—agree over the phone with... read more
20th of October 2018 by Warren Ryland
- Funding Fair: from concept to commercial reality
The Legal Director is proud to be co-sponsor of the latest Informed Funding "Funding Fair - Funding for Deep Technology: from concept to commercial reality" on... read more
19th of October 2018 by Warren Ryland
- Funding your business: debt vs equity
The Legal Director is proud to be co-sponsor of the latest Informed Funding workshop on Wednesday 3 October from 12:00-13:30 hrs or 17:00-18:30 hrs. This... read more
4th of September 2018 by Warren Ryland
- Exit Planning and Growth Strategy Workshop
The Legal Director is proud to be co-sponsor of the latest Informed Funding workshop on Tuesday 9 October from 11:00-13:30 hrs or 14:30-17:00 hrs. This... read more
4th of September 2018 by Warren Ryland
- What does an Investor want to see in a Business Plan?
The Legal Director is proud to be co-sponsor of the latest Informed Funding 90-minute workshop on Wednesday 12 September from 10:30-1230 hrs or 14:00-15:30... read more
22nd of August 2018 by Warren Ryland
- Instructing external legal resource: 5 questions to think about
Even when a business has an in-house legal team, there are times when instructing external legal resources—barristers, solicitors, or legal... read more
14th of August 2018 by Warren Ryland
- Talk to a lawyer: the ROI of legal advice
What do legal and regulatory issues cost your business each year? And - perhaps more worryingly - what is the cost of those commercial and contractual disputes that... read more
22nd of June 2018 by Warren Ryland
- Planning an Exit Strategy to sell your business?
The Legal Director is proud to be co-sponsor of the latest Informed Funding workshop on Wed 4 July, where you'll be able to discuss with experts and other... read more
5th of June 2018 by Warren Ryland
- Is your business facilitating tax evasion?
Is your business facilitating tax evasion? Put like that, most of us would automatically answer ‘no’. But let’s re-phrase the question. Does your... read more
8th of May 2018 by Warren Ryland
- IR35 and the private sector: are changes on the way?
As the government considers extending to the private sector its public sector reforms of the rules relating to the engagement of contractors through so-called... read more
22nd of March 2018 by Warren Ryland
- GDPR: 3 practical questions facing businesses like yours
In just a few months—on May 25th—compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) becomes mandatory. The biggest change to data protection... read more
1st of March 2018 by Warren Ryland
- Is a domain squatter set to steal your brand?
It’s fair to say that many businesses are unprepared for the new .uk Internet domain - which is unfortunate, as from June 2019, they could find that their... read more
5th of December 2017 by Warren Ryland
- Did you negotiate your last loan agreement - or just sign on the dotted line?
For businesses wanting to grow or invest, external finance can be an attractive option: access to the funds that they need, without equity dilution or... read more
2nd of November 2017 by Warren Ryland
- Protecting the value of your newly-acquired businesses can be a challenge
Buying a business is exhilarating. Hard work, to be sure - but undeniably exciting, and with a rich sense of the opportunities that lie ahead. So perhaps... read more
2nd of October 2017 by Warren Ryland
- GDPR. The clock is ticking: a tough new take on data protection is fast approaching
With effect from 25 May 2018—in other words, less than a year away—your business is exposed to a new regulatory regime backed by hefty fines. And by... read more
6th of September 2017 by Warren Ryland
- Persons of Significant Control: important changes to reporting requirements
It’s barely a year since the introduction of the PSC regime - and already, the compliance requirement has been tightened. And at a time when many businesses... read more
23rd of June 2017 by Warren Ryland
- Avoiding conflict when forming a business: probing questions for potential partners
Every year, several hundred thousand new businesses are created. In 2015, according to the Office for National Statistics, the total was 383,000—the highest... read more
28th of April 2017 by Warren Ryland
- Is your business at risk from the Uber decision? Why your self-employed contractors could really be employees
Fuelled by companies such as ride-hailing business Uber and personal courier firm Deliveroo, the so-called ‘gig economy’ is on the rise. So much so,... read more
12th of January 2017 by Warren Ryland
- The Legal Director - Commended for Innovation in the FT Innovative European Lawyers awards
Law firm The Legal Director (TLD) has been commended in the FT Innovative European Lawyers awards, which were announced at the beginning of this month. TLD ranked... read more
28th of October 2016 by Warren Ryland
- Debt versus Equity - Financing for SMEs
The need for additional finance is often the price of success for small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are looking to grow. The question that faces the... read more
14th of October 2016 by Warren Ryland
- The deceptive complexity of the Modern Slavery Act
At the end of July, Prime Minister Theresa May launched a cabinet-level government taskforce to eradicate modern slavery in the UK. It was, she said, “one of... read more
31st of August 2016 by Warren Ryland
- How our clients will benefit from the Bar Council's escrow account
Outside the narrow realms of consumer technology, there’s often an inevitable trade-off between cost and quality. In other words, you can have something at... read more
7th of July 2016 by Warren Ryland
- As the net starts to close, the Bribery Act prosecutions begin
As we have written before, the Bribery Act 2010 is a law with undoubted teeth. Fines are potentially unlimited, and custodial sentences can be up to ten... read more
1st of May 2016 by Warren Ryland
- New rules on shareholder identification are now in force
New rules on shareholder identification are now in force - and yet many businesses aren’t aware of them. Does your business have corporate or nominee... read more
12th of April 2016 by Warren Ryland
- First SRA-regulated law firm signs up to Bar Council's escrow account
PRESS RELEASE: The Legal Director has become the first law firm regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) to sign up to the Bar Council’s... read more
31st of March 2016 by Warren Ryland
- Trade marks: the 3 biggest mistakes to avoid
Wander around a supermarket, or browse the advertisements in newspapers and magazines, and you’ll see trade marks everywhere. And it’s likely, too, that... read more
29th of February 2016 by Warren Ryland
- Avoiding flexible working's hidden pitfalls
You don’t have to look too far to see that traditional modes of employment are increasingly giving way to more flexible working arrangements. Returnee... read more
9th of November 2015 by Warren Ryland
- Are you paying your workers the right amount of holiday pay?
A recent ruling by an Employment Appeal Tribunal is set to cause many businesses a headache. Quite an expensive headache, at that. Simply put, it means that... read more
15th of July 2015 by Warren Ryland
- The Bribery Act 2010: are you running a risk of breaking the law?
To see the difficulties that businesses can get into through bribery - or even allegations of bribery - look no further than the reputational damage suffered... read more
11th of June 2015 by Warren Ryland
- It's official: "Lawyers are not cost-effective"
Imagine, for a moment, that when faced with a serious illness, significant numbers of people took no action. And of those who did take action, around... read more
20th of January 2015 by Warren Ryland
- Could a Shareholder Agreement save your business?
Here at The Legal Director, we’ve recently come across a business where the two co-founders have fallen out -- one is now leaving, in order to set up on his... read more
1st of December 2014 by Warren Ryland
- The high-fee culture that's hobbling British business
Another week, and yet another critical item in the press on the cost of obtaining corporate legal advice. And to be sure, it’s certainly a fairly open goal at... read more
11th of November 2014 by Warren Ryland
- Is crowdfunding the answer to your business's financing challenge?
As the credit crunch and ensuing recession of 2008 began to bite, lending to businesses dried up. To their shock, even long-established, profitable businesses... read more
2nd of September 2014 by Warren Ryland
- Complying with the Data Protection Act: 3 business bear-traps awaiting the unwary
Visit the website of the Information Commissioner’s Office, and there’s an interesting section entitled ‘Enforcement’. In it, the... read more
1st of September 2014 by Warren Ryland
- What might a Legal Audit reveal about your business?
When we start working with a business we assess their existing legal arrangements to determine how these can be improved and aligned with commercial objectives. We... read more
9th of July 2014 by Warren Ryland