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Coronavirus - Remote/home working – UK

  • United Kingdom
  • Coronavirus
  • Coronavirus - Country overview
  • Health and safety

25-03-2020

Advice note - Remote/home working during the coronavirus outbreak

Employers are facing unprecedented challenges due to the coronavirus, which for some mean that a significant proportion, if not all, of its workforce are working from home, at short notice, potentially over an extended period of time.

This note sets out some of the health and safety issues employers need to consider as a result of the coronavirus.

Display screen equipment

Employers have a legal duty to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment of workstations to assess the health and safety risks, irrespective of whether that work station is in an office, or now more likely, home. That risk assessment should be used to identify how risks can be reduced to the lowest extent reasonably practicable. When there is a change of workspace, employers are required to revisit existing assessments.[1]

  • In circumstances where an employer has a large number of employees working from home unexpectedly, a phased risk based approach should be adopted, which might look like the following:
  • re-issuing online or electronic self-assessment risk assessments to the workforce;
  • arranging for video/virtual assessments to take place by trained assessors for those identified as higher risk, who had adjustments and specialist equipment at their workstation in the office or where an issue is identified that needs further review;
  • prioritise the provision of equipment or adjustments to those who identify as high risk including for reasons of existing medical conditions, which would be made worse by delayed action; and
  • set out a plan and timetable to provide equipment or adjustments to others on a risk based basis.

Home/lone working

Home working can mean lone work for many people and lone workers can face greater risk of some hazards as they usually will not have anyone to help or support them. The HSE has recently published comprehensive and updated guidance and a toolkit[2] on the risks employers need to consider in relation to lone workers, including work-related violence and the impact lone working can have on stress, mental health and wellbeing. It also includes guidance around how managers should keep in touch with lone workers.

Work-related stress, mental health and wellbeing

It is important that employers consider both how to extend existing measures around work-related stress, mental health and wellbeing to those working from home and the additional measures needed to promote both mental and physical health.

For Covid-19 legal insights visit our dedicated hub, please visit our coronavirus hub.

[1] Display Screen Equipment Regulations 1992

[2] https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg73.htm and https://www.hse.gov.uk/toolbox/workers/home.htm

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