Although employees are not physically present at the onsite workplace this does not release the employer from their health and safety obligations.

Employers are responsible, as far as reasonably practicable, for ensuring employees are not put at risk by their work. This includes any place an employee may be remotely working from. If an employee is working from home, the home is considered a workplace.

As in any regular workplace employers must identify and eliminate, or reduce as far as reasonably practicable, any risks an employee may face. When it comes to a remote workplace, such as the home, this may become more difficult.

Employers must identify any possible hazards, and help eliminate or minimize them. Common examples include tripping hazards such as power cords, and workstation setup to avoid poor posture.

Employers must also be aware of the unique risks presented by remote working arrangements, including employees becoming isolated or working more hours than they normally would.

These potential psychological risks must be addressed and mitigated. Examples of steps that can be taken are regular group, or one on one, catch ups, and ensuring that employees adhere to regular work hours and take regular breaks to avoid fatigue.

You must include your employees in identifying the risks. Have a plan to do so, and make sure you document this plan and the process to put it in place. Keep these records, so you can show what you have done. Without records you will find it almost impossible to prove you acted reasonably.

Employees have a duty to take all practicable steps to look after their own health and safety too.

Once the hazards have been identified, a plan must be developed to manage them. The plan should record the risk and the approach to managing it. Employees should be invited to contribute and provide input into the plan to eliminate or minimize the risks. Once finalised, it must be provided to any employees that may work remotely. Keep a copy of this mitigation plan as well.

Once the plan has been implemented, employees must follow it. However, this does not end an employer’s responsibilities. Ensuring the health and safety of employees, regardless of where they work, is an ongoing exercise. Employers must remain vigilant and communicative with their employees to identify any new or emerging risks.

If there are concerns around staff working remotely, or you are unsure how to comply with your health and safety obligations in a flexible working arrangement, it is wise to speak with a professional experienced in the area.

Leading law firms committed to helping clients cost-effectively will have a range of fixed-priced Initial Consultations to suit most people’s needs in quickly learning what their options are.  At Rainey Collins we have an experienced team who can answer your questions and put you on the right track.

Alan Knowsley
Health and Safety Lawyer