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Kerry Eastman

HR Advisor - Uckfield

2nd September 2021

Remote Working: What’s the catch?

Remote Working: What’s the catch?

In July 2021, we asked our clients how their working practices had or were likely to change, if at all, as the Government prepared to lift its restrictions, including its ‘stay at home’ message.

We were conscious that, as we emerged from the Coronavirus pandemic, employers were likely to be asked by many of their employees ‘can I continue to work from home?’ While some employers have experienced positive results from remote working, including increased productivity, better employee engagement and reduced overheads, many others have found that business productivity has suffered as a result of remote working, meaning the employers response to that question was likely to be varied.

According to our survey results, only 25% of our clients are looking to implement, or have implemented, a ‘hybrid working’ policy going forward. Hybrid working allows employees to work both from their workplace and their home, depending on their personal preference and in accordance with business needs. It allows greater flexibility and is certainly a buzz phrase as we emerge from lockdown conditions.

It might, therefore, come as something of a surprise that only a quarter of our clients are planning to introduce hybrid working going forward. This could be related to industry sector, geography or size of business, but might also relate to the risks associated with homeworking, including in relation to health and safety, confidentiality and data protection which make remote working less attractive to many business owners.

It’s undeniable that some employers have embraced remote working and believe it will have benefits for their business in the long term. By way of example, an un-named Cabinet minister recently suggested that civil servants who choose to work from home post-lockdown could see a reduction in their pay to take account of no longer having to commute to work. While this might sound like an attractive prospect for employers, employment lawyers far and wide are urging caution, given such behaviour on an employer’s part could trigger claims for unfair dismissal and discrimination.

Generally, an employer can’t change an employee’s terms of employment, particularly their pay, without consultation and seeking consent. Even then, concerns exist from a discrimination perspective, particularly as, statistically, women are more likely to want or need to work from home than men, as it will often better suit caring responsibilities.

Do you need help implementing a hybrid working policy? Say no more, the GatekeeperHR team is here to help. GatekeeperHR is a fixed cost, employment law and HR retainer service which provides businesses with access to a dedicated team of experienced lawyers and HR professionals who you can speak to, or meet face-to-face, at any time. The service includes a full HR compliance audit, access to an online portal full of valuable employment law and HR resources and an annual training session on topics of your choosing. To find out more about GatekeeperHR, please contact Amy White, Solicitor and Partner, in Rix & Kay’s Employment Team.

Alternatively, you can browse the GatekeeperHR website, sign up for a free trial or download our brochure by visiting www.gatekeeperhr.co.uk.

 

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