Hybrid Working

Hybrid Working May Provide A Better Work/Life Balance For Employees But Employers Must Be Wary Of The Potential Pitfalls.

With the latest news of a possible third wave and a good chance that the government will not be lifting all restrictions on social distancing on 21 June, many employers have already started to evaluate their current set-up and operations and are moving towards a hybrid working model. However, this switch to agile working brings with it a variety of potential pitfalls which employers will need to consider before finalising their plans. We look at some of the key issues including some of necessary steps required for employers to implement this new model successfully.

Key Issues

  • Employers will first need to consider whether hybrid working is mandatory for all or some employees or only optional, and whether attendance in the office will be required for a set number of days or whether arrangements will be more flexible.
  • Before introducing this new model of working an employer will need to consult with their employees on any proposed changes. This is likely to involve a collective consultation process if more than 20 employees are affected by the proposed changes and at risk of being dismissed if they do not accept the changes to their terms and conditions of employment.
  • Employees who have at least 26 weeks’ continuous service with their employer have the statutory right to make a flexible working request. Flexible working requests are likely to increase following this pandemic as staff start getting used to working from home and enjoying the benefits of a better work/life balance. Employers will need to ensure that they understand their duties and obligations once an application for flexible working has been made.
  • Employers will need to be careful to avoid creating a two-tier workforce, where employees working from home are treated differently to colleagues who work in the office. There are obvious discrimination risks if some employees are expected to work in the office whilst others are not.
  • Employers have a general obligation to provide employees with the tools and equipment needed to perform their work, such as laptops and mobile phones. However, it is very likely that employees working from home will require additional equipment. This means that an employer will need to consider whether to supply this equipment or agree to reimburse employees for these additional costs. There also arises a duty on all employers to consider whether any reasonable adjustments are needed to accommodate employees who are disabled including whether those adjustments need to be made in the office and at home.

Hybrid Working Policy

There may be many different forms of hybrid working and what may be appropriate for one employer will not be suitable for another. Whatever the final arrangements, all employers should consider implementing a hybrid working policy, which can be standalone policy or be included in an existing flexible working policy.

Although most employers would intend to operate such a policy on a non-contractual and discretionary basis, they should be aware of the possibility that such working arrangements may, depending on its terms and duration, become a contractual term of employment. This would mean that if an employer wanted to remove or change this model of working, it would be required to consult with employees.

Employers may also need to review and amend other existing policies including those covering working time, data protection rights, expenses and business travel and the use of IT equipment.

For advice or further information on complying with Covid 19 rules in the workplace or to obtain a FREE Hybrid Working Policy, call Henry Doswell of Doswell Law Solicitors on 01233 722942. Alternatively, email Henry at henry@doswell-law.com

Disclaimer: Whilst every reasonable effort is made to make the information and commentary contained in this blog accurate and up to date, Henry Doswell takes no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it. The information and commentary in this blog does not constitute legal advice to any person on a specific case or matter. You are strongly advised to obtain specific, personal advice from a lawyer about your case or matter.