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Working from home permanently - legal advice for businesses

The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 has forced many businesses to swiftly adapt to remote working conditions. Despite the challenges, many have found that their workforce is just as productive, if not more productive, than when working from a central office space. So, why pay rent when you can successfully operate without the office?


If you are exploring the idea of embracing a predominantly or wholly remote workforce, there are many legal considerations to take into account. Failing to follow proper processes or making errors could open your business up to the risk of legal action, so it is essential to seek specialist advice before taking the plunge.

From cyber security and data protection to the employment law implications of changing your employees’ place of work, at Frettens, our highly experienced employment law team is here to guide you through the process, helping you grasp this opportunity and avoid the potential pitfalls.

We work closely with our wider Commercial Law team, which includes HR specialists and expert commercial property lawyers to provide a complete and cost-effective service to businesses across Bournemouth, Poole and the wider Dorset and Hampshire areas.

Expert employment law advice in Bournemouth, Poole, Christchurch, Ringwood and the New Forest

We have offices in Christchurch and Ringwood. Our Employment team also covers Bournemouth, Poole, Ringwood and the New Forest, with the majority of our clients located in the Bournemouth and Poole area.

We are happy to offer a free 30-minute consultation for all new clients to discuss your needs and recommend a course of action.

Give us a call or fill in our online enquiry form for a quick response.

How our employment law solicitors can help your business

Switching to a remote workforce is not as simple as it first sounds. If anything, as an employer, you must be prepared to make a greater commitment to communicating with your employees and ensuring your compliance with employment laws and regulations. We can assist with matters such as:

  • Employment contract advice – reviewing and drafting terms, including pay terms and conditions, particulars of employment, mobility and ‘place of work’
  • Navigating discrimination law and minimising the risk of claims, including making reasonable adjustments, drafting policies and procedures and handling grievances
  • Complying with health & safety legislation, such as supplying equipment and technology and carrying out risk assessments
  • Implementing clear policies around supply and monitoring of equipment and systems, such as data protection and cyber security policies and what to do if equipment is broken, lost or stolen
  • Other related matters, including insurance considerations, tax and expenses, and implementing general homeworking policies
  • Making remote workers redundant
  • Employment dispute resolution relating to remote working, including:
    • Disciplinary action and grievance procedures
    • Discrimination claims
    • Negotiating settlement agreements (formally known as compromise agreements)
    • Defending Employment Tribunal Proceedings
    • Acas processes
    • Constructive dismissal claims

Employer Protection Policy

Closing your premises and moving to home working may be practical and cost-effective for your business, but being sensitive to the needs of your employees is essential. The transition period will likely kick up unexpected and challenges along the way. These challenges can become extremely expensive if they ever lead to legal proceedings. However, the best legal advice can also be costly, so what is the solution?

We offer a bespoke Employment Protection Policy for specialist ongoing HR legal advice, tailored to meet your business’s needs and backed by insurance to meet your legal expenses should a claim or award ever be made against you. Our service includes day to day legal advice, regular ‘health checks’ and consistent representation to help you avoid, minimise and resolve employment disputes.

You may also be interested in…

We have written the following articles to support employers and employees making the move to homeworking:

Get regular employment law updates to support your business

For updates on important and commercially-relevant developments in the law, written in plain English, subscribe to our Employment Law Newsletter.

Other ways our Commercial Law team can help

Our employment lawyers work closely with our other commercial law specialists to provide an all-inclusive service and fully support your business’s transition to remote working. Our expertise includes:

  • Commercial property – specialist advice about ending, assigning or subletting a commercial lease, selling commercial property, resolving landlord & tenant issues and a wide range of other commercial property related issues
  • Restructuring – expert advice about making required changes to your business’s structure and operations, including redundancy and TUPE issues
  • General contracts advice – commercially-focused advice about a wide range of business contracts, including intellectual property related agreements, terms and conditions and sale and supply of goods and services

Expert employment law advice in Bournemouth, Poole, Christchurch, Ringwood and the New Forest

We have offices in Christchurch and Ringwood. Our Employment team also covers Bournemouth, Poole, Ringwood and the New Forest, with the majority of our clients located in the Bournemouth and Poole area.


FAQs - Working from home permanently

Should every business have a working from hom epolicy?

Yes, absolutely. While there is no legal obligation to have a policy concerning working from home, any issues arising from employees working at home will be much easier to address if there is a policy in place. This also helps requests to be dealt with consistently and fairly.

If you/your employer does not have a policy, we would strongly advise that one is drafted and implemented as soon as possible and ideally before any permanent homeworking arrangements are put into place.

Read more here.

What should be included in a working from home policy?

Employment Solicitor Chris Dobbs provides 9 key considerations for employers writing a working from home policy in a recent article. You can read that here.

What advice can you give me on WFH monitoring?

If your employer proposes monitoring software, make sure you know exactly what is being monitored and the purpose. Monitoring is invasive and should not take place just for the sake of it; there should be a good business reason.

Make sure that there is a written policy and that it covers the circumstances in which data collected from monitoring can be used.

In particular, make sure you know what is and is not acceptable for you to be doing at work. Your employer should set out whether accessing private emails is acceptable and when, such as during lunch breaks or whether you are allowed to use your wok account to send/receive personal correspondence.

Read more here.

Is it legal for an employer to monitor employees working from home?

There are various pieces of legislation dealing with the ability to monitor employees and employee rights in relation to being monitored:

  • Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. This is contained in the Human Rights Act and so remains British law for now even after Brexit.
  • GDPR and the Data Protection Act
  • Telecommunications Regulations 2000
  • The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) 2000 and Investigatory Powers Act 2016
  • The implied duty of trust and confidence inferred into employment contracts
  • The application of ‘fairness’ as applied when considering rights under the Employment Rights Act 1996
  • The Equality Act 2010

Health and safety and homeworking - Is the employer liable?

The employer is responsible. The law is very clear on this: the employer is responsible for ensuring that all employees have a safe system of work. It doesn’t matter whether you are in an office, a factory, down a coal mine or working at your kitchen table, the employer is responsible for your health and safety during working hours. This means that the working from home environment should be risk assessed (including digital equipment and usual assessment for computer use) a well as the mental health impacts of isolated homeworking.

Do employers have to provide equipment to staff who are working from home?

Generally, it is fair to expect an employer to provide all necessary equipment for someone to undertake the role they have been employed to do. If an employee is unable to work because they do not have the correct equipment, that employee will obviously be unproductive. This is not their fault and there is a risk that the employer will be in breach of contract.

Homeworking can complicate matters. Where an employer is requiring staff to work from home, they should be providing the necessary equipment for those individuals to do so in most cases. There is an argument that employees could be expected to use personal equipment, but the vast majority of business have IT and Data Protection policies which would usually ban this and for good reason. Employees will understandably be reluctant to connect personal equipment to a business network for similar reasons.

Whoever makes the request, the practicalities of working from home and going to be a key consideration and everything from the cost to responsibility from moving items from workplace to home will be relevant.

    We are happy to offer a free 30-minute consultation for all new clients to discuss your needs and recommend a course of action. Give us a call or fill in our online enquiry form for a quick response.