The pandemic has provoked a broad range of responses to the homeworking revolution, from the large organisations who have decided to become “fully flexible” and abandon compulsory office attendance, to those who have described home working as “abhorrent”. In between the extremes, most organisations are now looking at formalising some element of hybrid working.
Hybrid working needs some clarity. It is a (perhaps not very elegant) way of referring to the pattern of working some time at home and some time in an office or other workplace. It brings with it many challenges in terms of culture, engagement, management and accountability. However, the legal basis is fundamental and in this article we highlight some of the legal issues associated with hybrid working models.
- Distinguish between hybrid (fixed) and hybrid (flexible) i.e. are you offering complete flexibility as to when an employee works at home, or are you offering a fixed home/office pattern?
- Think about the detail e.g.:
- Will there be any days or times of compulsory office attendance?
- Is the working at home element compulsory or voluntary?
- Will working hours be the same on home and office days?
- Does attendance at a client meeting or event override the right to work at home?
- Do employees get additional working at home time if they come to the office on a scheduled homeworking day?
- Do they have to “make up” office days if they miss one for any reason?
- Are travel expenses reimbursable for coming to the office on additional days?
- Do dress codes apply when working from home e.g. for client meetings or events?
There are numerous other issues of detail that could arise in the operation of hybrid arrangements.
- Will a permanent move to hybrid working necessitate a change in duties for some employees because of the work they do?
- Do your current employment contracts allow you to make the necessary changes? If not, what options do you have for varying them?
- Cover off health and safety thoroughly i.e. workplace Covid assessments and rules, and homeworking assessments.
- Analyse the position of any employees who have decided to make their base in another country but who will continue to work remotely, in relation to:
- your local legal responsibilities for homeworkers or “teleworkers”;
- personal tax and social security arrangements;
- immigration requirements; and
- corporate tax implications.
- Consider how you will ensure equality in a hybrid working world e.g. if a greater proportion of female than male employees takes up the option of a home-based working pattern because of childcare requirements.
We can help you with the preparation and implementation of new arrangements and policies. For further information please get in touch.