Future Working Arrangements: Key Advice

All Members, COVID-19

Many employers are now making key decisions about when and where they ask people to work in future.

For example, Spotify has decided that staff can work from whatever location they choose, KPMG has opted to ask staff to work 2 days per week in the office and PWC will let staff start and finish at times they choose.

Reports suggest that organisations are generally seeing an increase in productivity through allowing people to work from home, some or all of the time. Introducing flexibility and giving staff more choice about where and when they work could, in most circumstances, benefit staff and the organisation. But it would be naive to believe that there aren’t going to be many problems across industry as employees try to take advantage of what could be a new freedom but some employers eye a golden opportunity to take advantage of the people they employ.

What You Need To Know

If your employer is considering what working arrangements to implement, here are a few points to keep in mind:

Is Your Contract Changing?

If your employer is making permanent changes to future working arrangements, this may involve a change to your Contract of Employment, such as a change to your normal place of work or your hours. That change may not be recorded in writing.

Some employers may try to use this as an opportunity to make changes to your contract, which aren’t in your interests. It’s very important to contact us straight away if your employer suggests changes, so we can review the changes with you and make sure they’re fair and reasonable. If you don’t check contract changes at the time they’re proposed, it will be too late to object further down the line. If you don’t object at the time, your employer has the right to assume you have no objections, so you need to be proactive and contact us at the earliest opportunity.

Remember, our contract checking service is a key membership benefit: we’ll review any employment contract changes or new contracts of employment at any point in your career, to help you fully understand what you’re signing up to and identify any potential problems. This work can be complex and take some time so we can’t offer contract checking on the phone. You will need to let us know as soon as you receive any proposals so you can meet any timescales laid down by your employer.

Have You Been Consulted?

Your employer shouldn’t try to impose any contract changes on you without discussing them with you first and giving you an opportunity to comment. Proposed working arrangement changes won’t suit everyone and your employer should, but may not, consider your personal circumstances when making decisions. Remember though, employers and employees have to behave reasonably, so unless you have a genuine reason to object to a change, simply not liking a proposal may not be enough.

You might need to raise any concerns through a written submission to your employer or attend a meeting to talk things through. We can help with all of that, including attending any meetings.

Again, it’s important to get us involved at an early stage, so please do give the Advice Team a call on 01234 716005 (choose Option 1) if you need assistance.

Has Your Employer Given Proper Consideration To Your Working Environment?

There has been much comment on the duty on your employer to make sure that your home working environment is suitable and safe. This is just the sort of area where some lawyers will say that an employer has to carry out a risk assessment. That might be able to be argued but in the real world it’s going to be hard for employers to carry out risk assessments on peoples’ homes and many employees will not want their employers anywhere near their homes! So, common sense is needed here.

And bear in mind that running a concocted complaint to an employer about your working conditions, when you want to work from home, is unlikely to be the smartest move since it practically begs the response; “Well, come back to the office!”

If you’re going to be working from home on a more permanent basis, particularly if your employer is forcing you to, and there is any issue with your working environment, give us a call.

Concerns About Returning To The Office?

For most people, a return to working in the office won’t be a problem. However, some may be worried about social distancing in the office or travelling on public transport. If you’re worried, give us a call so that we can talk it through and decide the next steps. It will be important to discuss your concerns with your employer too; it might be that they can make arrangements to help alleviate your concerns or reassure you in some other way. But the first step is always to give us a call or email us.

The Affinity Advice Team is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year on 01234 716005 (choose Option 1). Alternatively, you can email us at 24hours@workaffinity.co.uk.

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