Guidance, practical tools and resources to help you embed flexible working in your organisation
Hybrid and remote working FAQs
Answers to frequently asked questions about hybrid and remote working
Q: What are the legal implications for employees working from home?
Home or remote working has many practical and legal implications. It is advisable to have policies to outline the organisation’s approach.
The following should be addressed:
Check the policy addresses how to supervise, communicate and monitor the performance of staff. Provide guidance for line managers as reporting in at regular times can help combat isolation and stress. Managers should be aware that different motivation techniques may be needed for home workers.
Think about employee requirements such as laptops, stationery, photocopying, printing etc. How will this be funded, installed and insured and who is permitted to access it? Employers might need to install video conferencing software so that meetings can occur remotely. Staff must easily be able to communicate with the employer, and other colleagues. Employers should also consider security measures and whether there is someone available to help with IT issues. There is no obligation for an employer to provide equipment for working at home but employers should do what they can to enable homeworking. Reasonable adjustments should be made for any employee who has a disability.
Employers may need to specify any changes to hours of work. Will the employee need to be available for work during strict office hours or work a specified set number of hours per day? There may be more flexibility in a working from home arrangement, but the Working Time Regulations 1998 should still be complied with, including the working week and daily rest break.
Health and safety
Employers are responsible for an employee’s health, safety and welfare both when working in the employer’s premises and when working from home. This means that employers should usually conduct risk assessments of all the work activities carried out by employees, including those working from home (duties arise under the Health and Safety Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999). Employers can provide guidance on health and safety risks arising from homeworking. You may wish to refer to the homeworking questionnaire. Employers must take measures to remove any hazards or, where this is not reasonably practicable, to minimise the associated risks.
Home working can lead to increased risk of loneliness, inadequate supervision, stress, problems with work life balance and increased exposure to family issues. Available strategies include mentoring, regular contact and communication, monitoring stress levels, well publicised systems for reporting mental wellbeing issues and social online events. More information on supporting employees is available in the guide on mental health support during COVID-19.
Salary and expenses
Salary and benefits should remain the same during a period of home working although changes to expenses may be appropriate if normal travel expenses are no longer needed. See the question below for more on pay.
Employers should make sure data protection obligations are maintained. An employee using their own computer should still process information in compliance with data protection principles. Employers may need to include express terms reserving a right to monitor work communications on home-based devices and set out a reminder about home security, confidential information, passwords, shredding etc. How data is transferred between home and the workplace also needs careful consideration. The ICO has produced guidance on data protection and working from home.
Using different remote locations may mean that existing policies covering the employees themselves and the employers’ equipment insurance is inadequate. Check the employee's personal homeowner insurance and the employer's business policies to ensure there is no significant uninsured liability for either the employer or the employee. If the employer feels it is inadequate, they may offer to pay for increasing coverage. The employee's homeowner insurer should be notified about business activities taking place at home, and similarly, the insurer of the property where the employee is relocating to may need to be notified. There may also be motor insurance considerations for employees driving for work purposes.
For more information refer to top tips on getting the most from remote working.
Q: Can employers reduce employees’ pay because they are working from home on a full time or hybrid basis?
Many employers have kept staff working from home on a full time or hybrid basis following the lockdown periods in the pandemic, and may have considered pay reductions. The legal starting point is always that changes to an employment contract require employees’ consent. If employers make pay reductions (or any other contractual changes) unilaterally, then this will be a breach of contract. Those who refuse to agree changes with at least two years’ service may have constructive unfair dismissal claims. There may also be wrongful dismissal claims which do not require a qualifying period.
Consent and risk
If employees do not consent, the usual strategies for employers regarding changes to contractual terms apply. These include imposing the pay cut anyway, attempting to rely on a contractual flexibility clause, or dismissal and reengagement (fire and rehire). These options all entail risk to morale, performance and reputation. Additionally, there may be claims for failure to consult, because dismissal and re-engagement of 20 or more employees requires collective consultation with elected employee representatives. In all cases absence of a fair process and consultation will increase the risk of claims.
If employers want to revise pay, the lowest risk option is to commence a process of seeking agreement to the new terms and conditions. Alternatives include, for example, imposing a new pay structure for new starters and perhaps phasing out things such as a London weighting.
Some employees will have childcare reasons for being more home-based. Pay reductions may then lead to potential discrimination or equal pay claims. Pay reductions for homeworkers could have the effect of widening the gender pay gap. There could be other discrimination issues too, if one group continue to receive a weighted location allowance, but others do not.
For consideration of the approaches to varying contractual terms see the Terms and conditions Q&As.
Hybrid working resources
- Report: An update on flexible and hybrid working practices
Report and case studies on the implications, challenges and benefits of hybrid and flexible working for organisations and their employees
- Guide:Effective hybrid working
Guidance commissioned by the CIPD on behalf of the Flexible Working Taskforce
- Top tips: Hybrid meetings
Top tips on conducting effective hybrid meetings (where some participants attend in person and some attend remotely)
- Case studies: Hybrid working
Four case studies, featuring people managers who say a permanent blend of office and homeworking will make their businesses stronger and employees happier
- Guide: Planning for hybrid working
This guide advises on how organisations can begin to prepare for a return to the workplace and a longer term move to hybrid working
- Guide: Line manager guide on supporting hybrid working
Advice for line managers on supporting and enabling hybrid working
- Tool: Assessing roles for hybrid working flowchart
Use our flowchart to assess roles for hybrid working, considering the nature of the work undertaken in a role
- Support materials: Planning hybrid working questionnaires
Use our questionnaire templates to kick off discussions around hybrid working and agree flexible working arrangements
- Questionnaire: Supporting ongoing homeworking
Use our questionnaire to help your staff to continue to work from home
- Webinar: Solving the hybrid working challenge
Watch our webinar to hear from the UK Government’s Flexible Working Taskforce and explore how to implement hybrid working in your organisation
- Webinar: Inclusive cultures: facilitating hybrid working
Watch a video and download slides from our webinar discussing how people professionals can make hybrid working cultures as inclusive as possible
- Insight: Home and hybrid working: current employment law essentials for people professionals
What do HR practitioners need to know and do regarding contractual issues and health and safety law?
- Report: Working from home - assessing the research evidence
Preliminary recommendations arising from enforced homeworking during the COVID-19 lockdown
Remote working resources
- Top tips: Getting the most from remote working
Our series of top tips will help you and your team get the most out of homeworking
- Line manager guide: managing remote workers
This guide will help you to support employees who are working remotely
- Podcast: Managing the well-being of remote workers
This podcast explores how best to support the well-being of a remote workforce
- Report: Developing effective virtual teams
This report provides insight and practice recommendations for running effective remote teams
- Nutshell: Understanding remote working and employee wellbeing
This article review outlines the examination of relevant research, and the summary of the potential advantages and disadvantages of remote working for employees
- Nutshell: Surviving remotely: the impact of remote working on employee wellbeing and work behaviours
This article review looks at how job control and loneliness during a forced shift to remote work impacted employee work behaviours and wellbeing
- Nutshell: Reducing stress and burnout for remote workers
This article review considers the importance of good quality management practices in reducing stress and burnout while working from home
- Webinar: Looking after your remote teams
This webinar recording looks supporting the health and wellbeing of your remote working teams
- Webinar: Remote working: maintaining productivity
This webinar recording looks at how employers and people professionals can keep remote workers motivated and engaged
- Report: Megatrends: Working from home – what’s driving the trend in remote working?
This report examines the key drivers behind the rise in homeworking
- Course: Managing remote teams
CIPD online course on managing remote teams
- Acas advice for employers on how to consider, discuss and introduce hybrid working
Resources, including a webinar, created as part of the government's Flexible Working Taskforce