During the coronavirus pandemic the Government encouraged us all to work from home. Some hated it, others found that it was a breath of fresh air, increased productivity, improved job satisfaction and promoted a better job/life balance, especially for those with childcare responsibilities (apart from the homeschooling that is!) Now the message has changed and we are being told to get back to the office. So, what’s the legal position?
Most contracts of employment envisage the place of work being, well – the workplace. Few contracts actively promoted remote or flexible working and even if this did occur then it tended to be an individually agreed situation. Therefore, the default position is that it’s back to the office I’m afraid.
Many employers are distrustful of staff working from home. Most employees only see the benefits to them. But why do staff have to be present for a set number of hours when the most important thing is they complete allotted tasks? Why should meetings be in person when a Zoom call cuts downtime, travelling and use of valuable office space? Why do we hold on to twentieth-century practices when technology has moved on?
All of the above questions deserve some thought but they also require legal underpinning to make sure they work for both parties. So, if you run your own company make sure the contractual documentation reflects the new working practices and if you are an employee find out how to formally approach your boss to get to where you want to be.
Ian Pearson is an employment solicitor with over 30 years of experience and takes a common sense and pragmatic approach to getting everyone to where they want (and need) to be.