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Hybrid working policies — what to consider

There's a known playbook for high functioning 100% office based organisations.

It's the same for 100% remote organisations.

What no one really knows yet is what a high functioning “hybrid” organisation will be like.

One way to try and manage the uncertainty of hybrid working is to implement a non-contractual, discretionary policy.

Putting in place such a policy may also help reduce the overall number of statutory flexible working requests that employers have to deal with, particularly as work-related restrictions from the pandemic begin to ease.

Here are some key themes to consider in a non-contractual, discretionary hybrid policy —

  • The situations when hybrid working will be appropriate
  • How to apply for hybrid working
  • What remote working locations are acceptable, e.g. within commutable distance of or the same country as the worker’s workplace. Employers should bear in mind that there are tax and insurance implications if workers work from abroad
  • A reminder that workers should continue to comply with any sickness absence policy and reporting procedures when they are sick and unable to work
  • A suitable reporting and appraisal system. Hybrid workers should not be denied training or promotional prospects open to comparable workers merely because they work remotely
  • Health and safety implications, including outlining the worker’s health and safety responsibilities and what steps the employer will take to protect health and safety. Consideration should be given as to how to report health and safety concerns and whether the employee is covered under the employer's accident insurance
  • Who is responsible for obtaining and maintaining insurance? Employers should ensure their compulsory employer's liability insurance will extend to those who work remotely. They can also remind workers to check their home insurance, mortgage or rental agreement to ensure that working from home will not breach any terms
  • What equipment will be needed and the workers responsibilities with regard to the equipment? Employers should also consider whether it needs to provide any special equipment for disabled workers and who will bear the cost of this
  • Clear guidance on data security and confidentiality. Workers should be given clear direction on what is expected of them, including what action to take if there is a breach. The hybrid policy could also link to other policies on computer use, electronic communications and data security, all of which should be updated in light of remote working
  • How both parties can terminate the hybrid working arrangement. This type of working won’t be a one-size-fits-all model. It’s important to put in place what works for your organisation
  • Finally, while a policy may be intended to operate on a non-contractual and discretionary basis, employers should be aware of the possibility that the hybrid working arrangement may, depending on its nature and duration, become an implied term of an employment contract.If a permanent change to hybrid working arrangements is the preferred route, it is advisable for parties to enter into a new employment contract setting out the revised terms of employment.

Take a look at the employment law category for more legal commentary for employers.

Alanah Mills

Alanah provides employment law, human resources and data protection advice to a wide range of our commercial clients.

Posted, 30 June 2021 by Alanah Mills
Categories: Coronavirus | Coronavirus and employment law | Employment