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News added on 10.05.2021

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Homeworking

Can you force hybrid working?

A BBC survey of 50 large employers has revealed that 86% aren’t planning a full-time return to the office once lockdown measures are relaxed, but are instead looking to encourage a hybrid model of office and homeworking. How do you implement hybrid working and can you force staff to permanently work from home for part of the week?

A hybrid model generally involves employees working from home two to three days a week, but it could be more or less than this. If employees want to request to work from home for some of their working week, they would normally need to submit a statutory flexible working application. However, if a hybrid model is something you actively want to encourage, start communications with your employees now, with the aim of reaching an agreement with everyone and seeing off formal flexible working requests later. Do remember though that, if you also plan to downsize your office space, a hybrid model won’t work if everyone wants to work from home on Mondays and Fridays.

If some employees want to return to the office on a full-time basis, you can only lawfully change their place of work, as set out in their employment contract, either with their consent or in accordance with the terms of that contract (and it’s unlikely a contractual mobility clause will specifically cover a workplace move to the employee’s home address). Some employees want to be in the office for mental health or other reasons, such as those who live alone or who don’t have a suitable space to work at home, so do be prepared to listen to such concerns and be flexible in your approach. Your health and safety obligations to staff include protecting their mental health at work and ensuring they have a suitable workspace.

Once you’ve agreed hybrid working arrangements with staff, obtaining their consent in writing, don’t forget to provide a written statement of changes to their employment contract, confirming their revised place of work for the days that they’ll be homeworking. In addition, if you want to potentially have the right to bring them back to the office on more days at a later date, write some flexibility into their new place of work clause.

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  • Kate Deery - 11 May 2021

    My company ate interested in agreeing Hybrid working from September