Employees who are working from home due to the Coronavirus lockdown are facing increased health and safety risks and their employers must take responsibility for their care.
That’s the warning from Jenny Osborne, who said that the current restrictions had led to around 60% of employees now working from their own homes.
“It’s clear that Covid-19 has changed the way businesses operate – and that many may never go back to the way they were before.
“But despite the new working arrangements, homeworkers’ health and safety protection at home is identical to that of on-site workers, and as an employer, you are duty bound to ensure they are working safely.”
“Do you know what their workstation is like? Are they perched balancing their lap top precariously on the edge of the kitchen table? Are they working in a poorly-lit space that could lead to eye strain or are they struggling with no blinds or shield to prevent screen glare?”
Jenny said any employer who failed to comply with the Health and Safety Executive’s regulations could be in trouble, particularly if they didn’t have the appropriate insurance cover in place to cover any legal fees.
“For employees working from home, as well as the pitfalls such as being interrupted by children and family, or side-tracked by household chores, there are a lot of advantages – figures have shown that on average, each employee will save over £40 a week by cutting out things like commuting and buying lunch out.
“And in fact, some employees have taken to the new working practices so well, that 26% of Brits plan to continue to work from home permanently or occasionally after the lockdown ends.”
But Jenny said some employees had been concerned about how their home insurance cover could be affected given their new working conditions.
“Employees should not be concerned though as the Association of British Insurers has announced that if you now need to work from home because of Government advice or because you need to self-isolate, your home insurance cover will not be affected.
“You don’t need to tell your insurer to update your details or extend your cover as you should still be covered by standard home insurance policies, as long as your work is office-related.
“The business equipment you use – such as a laptop – is not likely to be covered, but in most cases your employer would be responsible for making sure the equipment is insured even if it’s being used away from the office.”