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16 Nov 2015

Five legal issues surrounding remote working

With more employees working remotely than ever, employers must bear in mind the legalities of managing a flexible workforce, writes Personnel Today.

Employment lawyers Cerys Williams and Hilary O´Connor suggested the five basic precautions that businesses should consider when allowing members of their team to work from home. These include:

Place of work

Most companies take health and safety seriously, but as well as their office they must also assess an individual´s home conditions and ensure their liability insurance covers home working. Furthermore, they should raise awareness with home workers about their own obligations in terms of their property, as turning a home into a workplace can affect household insurance, planning permission and even the property´s tax status.

Remote management

It takes extra effort to keep disparate workforces engaged and working in unison. Therefore, business leaders need to be proactive in making sure remote workers are integrated into the company, can access any training or resources they need, and have corporate ‘visibility´. Any stereotypes or assumptions about home workers should be avoided as this will impact their rapport with clients, co-workers and decision-makers.

Dismissals and redundancies

Legal trigger points such as dismissal or redundancy can cause confusion for bosses and employees. Redundancy is for the most part location-based, so which establishment a remote worker is assigned to will be important in such decisions. Employers should ensure that contracts feature the employee´s place of work, as well as which base or headquarters they are assigned to.


Mobile working raises new concerns about confidentiality and data protection. As well as ensuring that employees´ mobile devices have adequate security and encryptions in place, it´s advisable to limit the remote access, downloading and printing of sensitive information. Staff should be kept up-to-speed with security guidelines and the implications of taking data abroad.

Working hours

It can be harder for workers to ‘switch off´ when they are working remotely. But employers who ignore this issue face breaching employees´ rights under EU working time legislation, even if working additional hours is something of an unwritten rule. Employees should opt out of the 48-hour week and employers should manage client expectations so that workers are able to have a life outside of work.

Copyright © M2 Bespoke 2015

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