Please note: the legal advice given in this article is correct as of 17/06/21. As the situation develops, guidance is subject to change and, while we will do our best to give you up to date information, it is always advisable to speak with a solicitor for specific advice.

There are widespread media reports today that the Government is considering implementing a new legal right to work from home; whereupon it could then be illegal for employers to force an employee back to the office.

These “leaks” have already appeared to have caused widespread confusion for both employers and employees. What does the future of business and “going to work” hold?  The Government appear to be consulting on the plan over the summer; ahead of possible legislation later this year.

It is imperative that business owners and HR personnel keep a close eye on this potential new law to work from home; and as it will be necessary to update or make changes to contracts of employment and staff handbooks, policies and procedures.

Up to date contracts of employment and a staff handbook with detailed procedures will protect your business; help you manage your staff in the best possible way and will provide you with clear guidance when facing unique HR and employment situations in this Covid-19 pandemic and beyond.

For example:

  • an employee refusing to return to work at the employer premises;

  • the employee insisting they permanently work from home;

  • employees still on furlough;

along with the more traditional HR situations:

  • where an employee is off sick,

  • an employee is underperforming,

  • an employee facing misconduct allegations

  • how to deal with an employee that has raised a grievance, perhaps about furlough, furlough pay, covid-secure failures or home working issues etc.

A staff handbook is a matter of good practice, to set out the standards expected of employees, to assist the smooth operation of business, and to reduce legal risk by making sure employees and managers understand the legal rights and responsibilities inherent in the employment relationship. Some policies, where correctly implemented, can assist in avoiding workplace conflict and minimise disputes in the workplace and also assist in defending any claims against the business that may be brought in the future.

We are closely monitoring this and intend to provide further guidance shortly.

If you are an employer and you require advice and/or assistance about employees working from home and/or with notifying and communicating with employees about returning to work or home working; or if you encounter difficulties with employees in this situation, please contact us on 0845 287 0939 or send your enquiry by email.

Farleys Solicitors LLP specialise in employment law & HR for businesses and employees. If you or your business requires HR & employment law advice and support in relation to the current Covid-19 / Coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns and/or in relation to any other specific area for example; contracts of employment, staff handbooks, absence from work, home-working, apprentices, recruitment, restructures, redundancies, lay-off; short-time working; furlough leave, furlough pay, disciplinaries, grievances, employee exits, settlement agreements; and Employment Tribunal claim or defence and representation.