Providing Facilities for Remote Working

Posted in : Seamus Says - Employment Law Discussion on 5 February 2021
Seamus McGranaghan
O'Reilly Stewart Solicitors
Issues covered: Remote working

We have provided stand-up desks for some staff at work. If in future they wish to work some days at home, are they entitled to such a facility at home as well?

Seamus: Well, that sounds like a little bit of a luxury to me. And I think the short answer is no, you know, not if you're not obliged to do that under the terms and conditions of the contract of employment. And I think look, we have to take a common sense approach when it comes to working from home, just a practical side that certainly employees need to be able to work from home, so they need the tech, they need desks and they need chairs in order to do that. But that's not necessarily a point that the employer will have to, you know, start to cater for specific work desks or specific work chairs. Most of us are at home working off our dining tables and our kitchen tables and on our chairs. You do need to give consideration to facilitate anybody with health issues or disabilities. And I've had a number of queries from clients where early on in the pandemic they've said, we've an employee here complaining about their back and they're looking for a chair and the chair is going to cost £200 and I'm in the middle of a pandemic and this is all too much. And you sort of have to remind the client of their responsibilities and their duties.

I think the other point is, is that none of us expected . . . I mean, we're nearly a year down the line. I think whenever we have our webinar next month, we'll certainly be hitting the anniversary of all of this taking off. We're nearly a year down the line. None of us expected that we were going to be doing this for a year. And there's an element of maybe back in March last year, where we were filling a hole, filling the gap and you know, working with what we had. But now we've moved on. We've moved further. We're so far down the line that it has to come a point where there is proper consideration given to assisting employees working from home and helping them to be as productive at home as possible.

I do think it stretches slightly for someone to say I need a stand-up desk to work from home, and you don't need a stand-up desk to work from home. But for me, that's maybe just a bit too far in terms of, it's a bit of a luxury item. But I think, Scott, in my mind, it's also thinking about, you know, there's this great talk of returning to normality. And I'm not quite sure. There's been a lot of discussion about what normality will look like and I think that for a lot of businesses working from home has worked very well. It has worked successfully. It has helped both the employer and the employee. It's helped the employer save costs, in relation to all of the usual things go along with having people in the office, and it has also helped the employee on a cost basis, too, and in terms of their work-life balance.

So if it is going to be a longer consideration, I think, there might need to be better consideration given to making sure that there are those comfortable elements of being able to work from home. I think from an employer's aspect, absolutely, look, you want to make sure that the employer or the employee is being as productive, that you're getting the most out of them. And if there's simple straightforward and relatively cheap steps that you can take, I don't see why you wouldn't.


This article is correct at 05/02/2021

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Seamus McGranaghan
O'Reilly Stewart Solicitors

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