This toolkit provides guidance for homeworking, working from home and flexible working. It provides links to key information and templates on the website.

As employers become more aware of the benefits of allowing staff to work from home, and as more employees gain the right to ask for flexible working arrangements, it becomes important to have proper processes and procedures in place to make sure homeworking is properly managed.

Flexible working

Flexible working includes both flexibility in relation to working hours and the place of work. In order to qualify for the right to request flexible working, employees must have 26 weeks’ continuous employment. The right applies to fixed-term employees who have been continuously employed for 26 weeks, and to employees who already work under a flexible working pattern. Additionally, flexible working encompasses more than the statutory request procedure, and employers can proactively consider it outside of the legal structure.

Employees do not need to show that they have responsibility for bringing up a child or other caring responsibilities because the request can be made for any purpose. Only one request may be made under the statutory scheme in any 12-month period. Agency workers are not entitled to make requests.

Health and Safety

Under the Health and Safety at Work, etc Act 1974, employers have a duty of care to protect the health, safety and welfare of employees, including homeworkers. This also means protecting employees’ mental health. In addition, the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 place specific duties on employers covering the use of Display Screen Equipment (DSE). Risk assessments should also be conducted for employees who are DSE users and work from home, whether or not the workstation is supplied in whole or in part by the employer. For example, the employer may have provided the DSE but not the furniture.

The guidance to the DSE Regulations suggests conducting such an assessment by providing a checklist for the employee to complete and return. The checklist may be an outline form or a conventional document. It should cover any need for special training or information to compensate for their lack of direct contact with the employer.

Note, however, that the Health and Safety Executive has said that a workstation assessment is not required for those working at home temporarily during the pandemic. “Temporarily” is not defined, and as working from home may have continued on and off for nearly a year for some employees, we recommend that a DSE assessment is undertaken to identify potential risks.

Organisations may need to undertake other types of health and safety risk assessment, depending on the work activity, such as manual handling or hazardous substances. Employers should also carry out specific risk assessments for new and expectant mothers and young workers, even if working from home.

Last reviewed 29 April 2021