Will everyone have a legal right to work from home?
10th Jun 2020
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Germany is already taking steps to give citizens a legally binding right to work from their home and, if reports are accurate, our own Government could follow suit.
Many commentators feel that one of the lasting impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic will be far more employees doing their job from their house. A five day working week based in an office could be a thing of the past.
In cases where it has proven to work well in the last two months, it’s understandable that many would want to continue to escape the usual hell of a rush hour commute. Although full time homeworking has created challenges, the time and money saving benefits from reduced travel are clear.
The Telegraph recently reported that UK Government officials have put forward the idea of enshrining a right to work from home in law to help get businesses moving again as we move away from the lockdown. It quoted an unnamed Government Minister as saying: “It makes complete sense."
Ministers want to limit the number of workers travelling at the same time and have been urging people to avoid public transport as much as possible to avoid risking a further spike in infections. The Government’s current guidelines stipulate that people must continue to work from home if their job allows it. The COVID-secure safety regulations for employers state that homeworking should still be enabled and encouraged for as many staff as possible.
Some 44% of adults in employment say they worked at home at some point in the last week compared to 12% last year, official Government figures from 7 May showed.
Some might see it as a next step from existing flexible working laws – which state that all employees have the legal right to request flexible working. In fact, The Prime Minister promised greater flexibility for workers in the 2019 Tory party election manifesto.
What have other countries done?
German Government Minister Hubertus Heil is working on legislation to give employees the right to work from a home office once the Covid-19 crisis has passed, so long as their job can be done remotely.
In Finland, a leading proponent of flexible working for decades, new laws came into force in January enabling employees to decide not only their working hours, but also their place of work. If they want to spend six months at a sunny Spanish resort while working for their Finnish employer, that is allowed.
Time will tell if an outright legal right to work from home emerges in this country. But the direction of travel towards more homeworking seems clear. Even if it does not become law, the change in mindset and peoples’ desire to have a better work-life balance means employers can’t ignore it.
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What’s more, Taxfiler’s practice management software makes it easy to keep track of which staff member has been allocated specific client tasks, meaning that employees can keep on top of their clients’ deliverables wherever they are.