Practical guidance for employers on working from home

Travel agents and tour operator’s staff are increasingly working from home in the longer term. Here we consider some key issues when implementing home working for your employees:

Training

  • Ensure that you have policies, procedures and guidance in place and that your employees are familiar with them. For example, you should have a health and safety policy and data protection policy in place. You should also consider training on IT generally and equipment.
  • If home working is likely to continue long term, you should consider having a policy on home working setting out clearly your expectations.
  • It is essential that your employees are aware of their obligations and yours in relation to data protection and confidentiality. This should include what procedures they need to follow and what is authorised use of data. You should carry out a data protection impact assessment on the data protection implications of employees working from home.
  • If you handle payment card data, for example take payments over the phone your employees will need specific training and you should implement a security awareness program.

Hardware and software

  • Software should be kept up to date to avoid security breaches. This needs to be capable of happening remotely.
  • For security reasons you should consider providing your employees with company owned devices. If this is not possible, you should consider multifactor authentication for remote access. It is important that your data is stored separate to the individual’s personal storage; any data should be saved remotely not on the device.
  • You should avoid employees using their own devices because out of date software may make the device vulnerable, the device might be shared with other family members, data is unlikely to be encrypted, data can easily be removed from the device. If this is the only realistic option, you must have in place mitigation methods to avoid data breaches, for example providing guidance to employees on keeping software up to date, giving advice on strong passwords and minimising the storage of personal data on the device. Staff must be aware of when and how they can report a potential personal data breach.
  • Another important consideration is to ensure that your employees’ home wireless network is secure.

Workspace

  • The workspace should meet requirements set out by the health and safety executive. Guidance can be accessed on their website https://www.hse.gov.uk/toolbox/workers/home.htm. Your workers are likely to work with display screen equipment (such as a computer screen) and specific rules apply to the use of such equipment.
  • You should conduct a risk assessment of the workspace (this can be a self-assessment) and update your health and safety policy to reflect the change to homeworking. Note that you are obliged to have a written statement setting out your general health hand safety policy if you employ 5 or more people.
  • Confidential paperwork should be shredded or disposed of confidentially so you may need to make specific arrangements in this regard.
  • Screens should be shielded from others.
  • Telephone calls should be taken in a private space to avoid being overheard.
  • Documents and equipment should be stored securely, ideally in locked storage unit.

Other considerations

You should ensure that any contract of employment covers home working and specifically the following.

  • You may need to access your employees home to install, maintain and service equipment or to carry out risk assessments.
  • You might want to revert to office working at some point so it is important that you reserve the right to do this.
  • You may need to monitor your employees’ performance in new ways, both to check that they are not working too little or too much, for example monitoring screens and key strokes, you must inform your employees of any changes you intend to implement in relation to this.

You should also consider the wellbeing of your staff and have in place appropriate supervision to monitor their work, hours, stress and general wellbeing.

Your insurance should cover your home workers and the employees insurance should cover working from home.

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Please contact Becky Cackett (becky.cackett@mb-law.co.uk) or Claire Ingleby (claire.ingleby@mb-law.co.uk) in relation to data protection issues and Claire Ingleby or Kwadwo Boadu (Kwadwo.Boadu@mb-law.co.uk) in relation to employment law issues.

Please note this information is for general guidance only and is not intended to be a substitute for specific legal advice.

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