The Prime Minister has just announced that staff should work from home where possible and avoid non-essential travel.
If there is already an established requirement to work from home where appropriate or where instructed to do so (or in the case of a business continuity issue such as a pandemic), in particular given the Government’s encouragement this afternoon to do so, then there is unlikely to be an issue in applying that obligation.
Where home working is being introduced for the first time or expanded, employers should ensure that the health and safety implications have been considered (including health and safety risk assessments) and that the necessary infrastructure is in place.
What is specifically required for each employee will depend on the job, the duration of home working and what equipment is needed.
If providing access to systems for home working, employers should consider whether they have appropriate policies to protect their data and systems if being accessed via employees' own devices. More generally, confidentiality, IT and data privacy policies and security systems should be reviewed to ensure that working outside of the office does not expose any data, including the personal data of employees, customers and clients.
The reality is that the instructions from the government does leave some grey areas as what is "non-essential travel" and what does "where possible" mean? Also, it may be that employers' cannot allow for homeworking due to the nature of their businesses or may need a skeleton crews of staff on sites.
As the situation develops, these types of issues will undoubtedley increase and employers will have to adopt flexible and drastic approaches to ensure that their businesses continue to function.
If you have any questions about this or have any other employment related issues, do not hesitate to contact the Employment team here at Kemp Little.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said everyone in the UK should now avoid "non-essential" travel and contact with others to fight coronavirus. He said people should work from home where possible, as part of a range of stringent new measures.