Home working could put employees at risk

Charities have been warned to draw up comprehensive home working strategies to avoid putting staff at risk by failing to consider health and safety rules.

The warning comes in the lead up to national work from home day, on 18 May, which will call on employers and employees to consider the benefits of home working.

Elspeth Watt, director of consultancy Calibre HR & Training, said that although a lot of charities offered some options for staff to work from home many had failed to draw up proper procedures.

“If you’re not planning it properly, it is hard to measure the payback and things can go wrong,” she said. “A planned approach is essential to avoid potential pitfalls, including breaches of data protection when sensitive information is handled outside of the office, and health and safety issues.

“Although home working can boost morale and productivity, communications need to be carefully managed to avoid employees feeling isolated and burning out.”

Karen Hynes, human resources manager at the National Autistic Society, said the organisation had to tackle home working arrangements after it introduced them on an organic basis.

“Home working started out by evolution rather than by planned introduction,” she said. “People had unofficial agreements to work from home some days each week.

“The problem with unofficial agreements is that they vary and unfairness and inequality can creep in. Introducing a home based working policy allowed us to deal with health and safety concerns about people working at their dining table and introduce proper assessments and set-ups.”

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