The Scottish Government has published guidance for employers on homeworking, which ties in with the most recent lockdown regulations.
The regulations, which came into force on 5th January 2021 implementing the most recent lockdown, require those responsible for carrying on businesses or providing services to take all measures which are reasonably practicable to minimise the spread of coronavirus on the premises. This includes a requirement to ensure physical distancing, as well as (where appropriate) changing the layout of premises, furniture and workstations, controlling the use of entrances, exits, corridors, stairs and lifts and shared facilities such as kitchens and toilets, controlling access to the premises, use of barriers, screens and/or PPE and providing information and guidance to those on the premises.
This also requires facilitating homeworking where at all possible. The obligation will effectively apply to all employers, though it is owed to everyone on the premises, not just employees. Therefore consideration should be given by businesses which are operating as to whether customers or clients are permitted on the premises and what arrangements should be in place for this.
The obligation also requires having regard to government guidance. The Scottish government has now published statutory guidance for working at home during the pandemic, which can be found here.
The guidance sets out the government’s recommendations on steps to be taken in a number of areas, including:
Some points of note to be taken from this are:
Given homeworking has been the default for much longer than expected, and looks set to be for some time yet, it is worth ensuring arrangements are in place to support employees on an ongoing basis and to avoid the risk of issues arising which could ultimately lead to claims being made.