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What to say When?

Requests for working from home

‘Many of my employees have enjoyed working from home in recent months due to the Alert Level restrictions imposed on our working environment.  Now some want to work from home permanently and I am struggling to justify why they can’t after 3 months of being able to do so. I also don’t want to create an influx of requests!’

You could respond with:

This is something we need to consider further and to help me consider it from all angles, I’d like you to put this request in writing. Some of the things I will need to think about are:

  • Are you eligible by nature of your job?
  • Are there any cybersecurity and data privacy concerns?
  • Will collaboration with your team become difficult?
  • Do you have the necessary equipment or software installed at home?
  • What are the conditions of your home or alternative place of work (noise, internet connection, children)?
  • What changes, if any, would I need to make to your role, for this to work for you and for the organisation?

Under Part 6AA of the Employment Relations Act 2000, employees are entitled to request flexibility around their hours, days of work or location of work. As an employer you have a duty to consider the request and must respond within one month of receiving the request.

What are my health and safety obligations to staff who work from home?

For staff working from home, the employee’s home becomes the “workplace”, and the employer’s obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 do not change.

In this regard, an employer would still be required to take reasonably practicable steps to ensure that the “workplace” did not pose a risk to the employee’s health and safety.

This may include ensuring that the employee’s desk is appropriately set up to prevent injury, that employees are encouraged to take regular breaks, and that hours are recorded. In this respect, practical steps should be taken, such as asking employees to send photos of their desk set up and providing ergonomic advice and support as appropriate.

If you need assistance with a policy which should outline the criteria for making such a request, forms to complete or just need advice on Flexible Working Arrangements please give us a call.


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