Not a bed of roses for homeworkers

2016-09-07 chris posted:

No commute, no office distractions and the freedom to hold conference calls in your pyjamas — the benefits of working from home hold many attractions. The option to work from home is one of the growing trends of modern professional life.

However, a recent study undertaken by the London School of Economics has revealed that a significant amount of time spent working from home does not mean more productivity than colleagues who work in an office. Even worse - employees working from home see this less and less as a privilege, and are becoming disgruntled about having to pay for extra heating as well as missing out on gossip and the social side of working in the office with their colleagues.

This study provides a glimpse into a future where flexible working may not be a long-term solution for employers, as staff become isolated and unhappy, feel increasingly out of touch, and lose confidence in their skills. The study also found that whereas a face-to-face meeting was less likely to lead to any misunderstandings, email communications are often misinterpreted.

The research, conducted among 500 staff and managers, is among the first to measure the impact of working from home over a long period of time.

The term "homeworker" is not defined in the Employment Rights Act 1996, but essentially means someone who divides their working time between home and their employers' premises. According to the Office of National Statistics, 73% of home workers are in the highest skilled roles in the economy.

Having said that, the proportion of workers in the UK who work entirely from home is still relatively low, although their numbers are growing, partly due to the rocketing cost of office space in larger cities and flexible working rights. Apparently, the number of employees who work mainly from home or use home as a base for mobile working increased from 8% in 2005 to 13.9% by March 2014.

Therefore homeworking has benefits and drawbacks for both employers and employees. Those employers entering into homeworking arrangements should address a range of practical issues, including:

  • Tailoring employment contract clauses to encompass homeworking.
  • Taking appropriate measures to protect confidential information and personal data.
  • Reviewing the health and safety implications of the arrangements, including carrying out a risk assessment.
  • Deciding whether any special equipment should be provided.
  • Considering whether any special planning or insurance arrangements are required.
  • Deciding what arrangements should be made for the management and supervision of certain types of homeworkers.
  • Identifying the tax consequences of homeworking.

For more information about homeworking, contact us today on 01225 632240 or at info@renneyandco.com.

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