Hybrid work policies continue to be relevant for companies adapting to government-issued COVID-19 measures and for those making a permanent transition to hybrid work models moving forward. Before we get started, read our full article on what a hybrid work model is and why it might be the future of work. LegalEdge is a dynamic team of flexible, in-house lawyers helping companies to transition to hybrid work compliantly in the UK. The team has put together a checklist to help you create a hybrid work policy that ticks the most important compliance boxes.
Crafting a Sound Hybrid Work Policy
Hybrid work models are here to stay. Enforced working from home during the pandemic has led to many businesses rejecting a return to the status quo - especially given the uncertainty around how long the pandemic will last.
Hybrid working is perhaps the ultimate manifestation of the old maxim, “everything in moderation”. While many workers missed the office during lockdown, many others enjoyed newfound personal and economic benefits of home working and don’t want to give these up. Hybrid working potentially allows the best of both worlds and is therefore extremely popular with staff.
Employers too can reap benefits, saving money on office space and potentially enjoying increased loyalty and productivity from happy staff . What’s more, many countries, like the UK, are currently experiencing a labor shortage across a variety of sectors, so offering hybrid working could provide a distinct recruitment advantage for your business.
If regular remote working (whether from home or elsewhere) is part of your hybrid model, you need a suitable policy so that everyone understands what is expected of them and others. Simply relying on ad hoc, undocumented arrangements in place could stir up legal trouble for the future.
Here is a checklist of things to think about when writing a hybrid work policy:
1. At the outset:
State clearly what you mean by hybrid working; will staff have total autonomy to decide when they come to the office (or other workplace) or will you prescribe a minimum attendance level? If the latter, will this be so many days a week, month or quarter, or some other metric?
2. Assess suitability:
Set out which roles will be eligible for hybrid working and specify any that will not. You may wish to decide on a case-by-case basis whether a role is suitable for this arrangement. However, any such decisions need to be carefully considered to avoid being potentially discriminatory, e.g. by favoring or prejudicing a certain group or person.
3. Contractual changes:
Check if your existing employment contracts need to be amended and agreed with employees to reflect the new arrangements. Staff should understand whether this is a temporary or permanent change, following any agreed trial period.
4. Data protection and confidentiality:
Be very clear about the information security measures staff should follow when working from home, or any other location. For example, that a personal email address must never be used for work matters, that confidential documents etc. are shredded/disposed of confidentially, and that work laptops/devices are to be carried and kept safely, not left unlocked or used by family members, etc.
5. Health & safety:
Don’t overlook your health and safety duty towards your employees when working remotely. Some countries, like the UK, require employers to provide suitable workstation equipment to ensure employees’ health and safety.
6. Equipment & expenses:
Decide what equipment you will provide for staff and what other equipment individuals will be expected to provide for themselves (e.g. a chair, desk, storage space, laptops/devices, etc.).
You must also decide if you will pay any allowance for staff working at home to cover the costs of broadband, electricity, heating costs, etc. Make sure your staff are aware of these policies and what options are available to them in terms of claiming expenses.
7. Managing performance:
Determine which evaluation methods and productivity metrics you will use and how this will be considered as part of performance reviews. Some example metrics are time worked, client interactions, profits generated, and cases resolved.
8. "Work from anywhere”:
Outline whether remote working means only working at an individual’s home address or if remote staff can work elsewhere. For example, can they work from further afield? Does this only cover the country where your business is based or can they work from abroad too? International remote working is a different and legally complex topic, so be sure you understand the legal and tax risks before agreeing to it.
9. Permitted locations:
Clarify whether your staff are allowed to work in public places, such as cafes or shared spaces. If so, consider any extra security/confidentiality measures or training needed to keep company and client information safe.
10. Termination of employment:
Set out rules to determine what will happen upon termination of employment. For example, how should the leaver return all proprietary equipment, information, and personal data?
If you have any questions or need help implementing any changes to your working strategies or policies, LegalEdge, the flexible in-house lawyers, are happy to help. You can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hybrid work is also forcing managers to ask themselves whether their employees should be able to work from a place of their choosing, be it in or outside of the country where their company is primarily based. If your hybrid work policy permits “work from anywhere”, you’ll need to prepare for the challenges of international employment and provide equal (and compliant) support for your staff, wherever they’re based.
That’s where Omnipresent’s global employment services can support you. We can help you hire, pay, and manage global team members in over 155 countries and regions compliantly. Book a call with us today to get started.
The information on this page is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Please see our disclaimer for more information.