Implementing homeworking effectively
What to consider when contemplating homeworking
What is homeworking?
Homeworking is defined as the performance of University work for agreed hours from a member of staff’s home-base.
For a variety of reasons, and with varying degrees of frequency, some staff may undertake some of their duties away from their normal workplace at the University. Whilst there is an expectation that staff will normally be working on the University premises, it is accepted that occasionally there will be circumstances where a member of staff and the relevant manager agree that it is mutually beneficial for that individual to work at home.
Contracts for Lecturers, Senior Lecturers, Readers and Professors already allow for a degree of homeworking and so an application to work at home is not required. They should follow the informal arrangements normally agreed within their department when working from home. However, the same health and safety implications apply.
Benefits of homeworking
The benefits in flexibility and productivity available from home-based work can be attractive to both the University and staff, and the arrangements are based on trust and mutual benefit.
Working from home can assist with flexibility around reasonable caring and dependent responsibilities. The University expects a member of staff to be working completely during their working time at home in the same way they would be working at the University. It is therefore not appropriate for a member of staff to carry out child-minding or other care duties during their working hours when working from home.
Working from home is not a contractual right and is granted at the University’s discretion and requires the prior approval of the line manager and/or Head of Department following consultation and discussion with the member of staff. It will not alter an individual’s terms and conditions of employment. Homeworking should not create additional workloads for other colleagues or otherwise affect operational efficiency and effectiveness.
All University staff, regardless of contract type or duration, other than those employed on a casual basis, or in roles with the following requirements set out below, can seek agreement for homeworking.
Posts with at least one of the following requirements will not usually be considered for regular or remote home-based work:
- direct customer face to face contact on a frequent basis (e.g. receptionist, hospitality assistant);
- being a member of a team who needs to have face to face contact with other team members (e.g. administrative assistant);
- servicing and serving other university facilities or assets (e.g. security officer, sports assistant, porters, library assistants);
- posts requiring a high level of supervision. Any staff working outside of the UK should contact the Payroll Manager to clarify their national insurance and tax position. If they are working under a Certificate of Sponsorship and / or visa etc. staff must bring this change to attention of the HR Recruitment & Operations Manager prior to its commencement as it may affect their status.
Models of homeworking
The University is willing to consider the following models of homeworking depending on the operational requirements of the role:-
A. Occasional homeworking
Occasional working at home, which does not follow a particular pattern of working from home on a regular basis but may be used by staff in suitable roles to complete a specific piece of work where work needs to be done with minimum distraction or interruptions.
Making a request to work from home on an occasional basis
Professional and support service staff requesting to work from home on an occasional basis should set out their reasons for their request and seek approval from their line manager in advance on each separate occasion and agree communication channels. The work outputs to be met should also be agreed with the line manager. The line manager has the right to refuse the request on practical or operational grounds.
Temporary working from home during periods of adverse conditions (e.g. adverse weather)
If the University decides to close as a result of adverse weather conditions, staff who are able to work at home are required to do so.
B. Regular homeworking
Regular homeworking is an agreement between the member of staff and the University to work a percentage (usually no more than 0.2fte) of the normal working week from home on a regular and on-going basis but their contract of employment requires them to be based at the University of Bath. This will only be appropriate in exceptional circumstances and will be subject to an annual review or earlier if circumstances change.
Regular homeworking is voluntary and is not intended to create a situation where staff feel obliged to work excessive hours. It does not mean that equipment will be provided by the University for use at home. Staff must be prepared to change their homeworking pattern or for this to be reviewed if their role requires them to attend meetings with other departments or services. Staff should ensure that they are contactable at all times.
If applying to work at home on a regular basis, staff must approach their line manager about their request and give them a copy of their application form. Their line manager with support from Human Resources will assess the suitability of homeworking in relation to the job, the person, the home and the health and safety perspective. They should also complete and send this to their line manager for approval prior to a request for either regular or remote working.
C. Remote working
Remote working is an agreement between a member of staff and the University to work their contractual hours from home on a long term but reviewable basis. Their home becomes their work base and they will only attend the University for meetings on campus. This will only be appropriate for certain roles.
Connecting to the University of Bath from home
Computing Services has a number of guides to help with connectivity from home .
Health and Safety Requirements
There are specific health and safety considerations in respect of home or remote working including a work station self assessment for remote working.
For occasional and regular homeworking the University will not provide additional IT equipment, phone, broadband connection or furniture. Staff will therefore be responsible for ensuring that they have suitable telephone and broadband services where required, and for contacting the service provider in the event of any technical issues. It is not possible for the University to provide IT support for equipment owned by members of staff.
Staff are required to use their own and supplied equipment correctly and follow the University’s IT Acceptable Use Policy and Homeworking Guidelines at all times. This includes taking all reasonable steps to maintain any equipment provided, removing defective equipment from use and reporting defects on supplied equipment to their line manager. University equipment may not be used by others i.e. family and friends. Staff should ensure that they maintain current anti-malware and use it regularly in line with the above policy and guidelines.
Appropriate security must be obtained for all University information stored on a computer (including back-up arrangements) and there must be secure storage for any confidential information. Employees are responsible for ensuring the security of University property and all University information, files, documents, data etc. within their possession, including both paper and electronic material.
Staff should discuss the data security implications of working from home with Computing Services and be aware of the Data Protection Policy.
The University’s insurance takes into account the fact that increasing numbers of staff work from home, either on an occasional ad-hoc basis or a more regular basis. The University holds liability insurances that provide cover for the legal liabilities of the University and its staff whenever they are engaged in University business. This cover applies irrespective of where the activity is taking place. However, staff working at home on a regular basis or remote working should inform their own home contents insurance company if they are working from home and using their premises and certain equipment, e.g. computers, for professional purposes. This would be considered a material fact by insurers and failure to notify this change could invalidate the insurance. A template letter is available for this purpose.
It is also the member of staff’s responsibility to assess the personal implications of regular home working or remote working with respect to council tax, insurance or leasing arrangements, though any University equipment would be covered by the University’s own insurance.
No contribution will be made by the University towards normal household expenses attached to homeworking, such as heating, lighting, or council tax costs.
When a member of staff is working at or from home on an occasional or regular basis, they may not claim travel expenses between home and the University Campus as their nominal ‘normal place of work’ remains the University. For remote working the ‘normal place of work’ is the home base and so they will be eligible to apply for travel expenses when required to attend the University.
Home and mobile phone call charges
Costs of business calls from a home or personal mobile phone may be reimbursed provided the claim is accompanied by a copy of the phone bill with the relevant calls highlighted. Where there is a monthly tariff contract, then highlighted calls would need to be shown to be in excess of this tariff.
The line rental of a home phone or monthly tariff of a personal mobile or smart phone or other PDA will not be reimbursed. If a member of staff has a business need for a mobile phone then the business case for a University procured phone should be made in the usual way.
The costs of broadband at a member of staff’s home will not be paid for except in exceptional circumstances and where approved by either the Director of Human Resources as part of their contractual arrangements or by the Vice Chancellor’s Group (VCG).
Where such approval has been given then, the payments may be made free of tax provided the following conditions apply:
- the University subscribes to the connection or reimburses the member of staff for a broadband subscription where they had not previously subscribed and
- private use is not significant and does not affect the cost of the service.
Where the University reimburses the costs to staff who were already subscribing for broadband, then such reimbursement must be made through the payroll and be subject to tax and national insurance deductions.