At our most recent Ask The Expert webinar, we were asked whether, following an assessment of a hybrid worker’s equipment both at home and in the office, the employer is responsible for the cost of providing or maintaining the equipment in both locations?
In general, there is no legal requirement to provide equipment to allow staff to work at home. However, where an employee is going to be using display screen equipment (DSE) (such as a computer, tablet or laptop) the employer has a duty to carry out a risk assessment in order to identify the H&S risks of using DSE and how to minimise them as much as possible.
That means that an assessment will have to be made at both the workplace and at home (if the employee is working in that hybrid way). That may of course mean that the assessment flags up issues with the workplace and the employee’s home.
Even when the employee is working from home, the employer still has a duty to protect their health and safety and minimise risk as much as possible. On that basis, if an issue is identified with the DSE or its use it might mean that particular equipment has to be provided to support home working (as not to do so could put the employee’s health and safety at risk and create a liability for the employer). That could mean buying it, or helping with the cost or providing equipment from the office (if there is any).
There may also need to be a discussion about whether home working is appropriate or safe in the circumstances. Remember though that where the employee asks to work from home as part of a flexible working request, there are limited and specific statutory reasons which the employer can give for refusal.
Another point to flag is that if the person has a disability, which might be a hidden disability, providing the equipment might be deemed a reasonable adjustment and so not to do so might mean a complaint to the employment tribunal for failure to make a reasonable adjustment (there is no minimum service requirement for this).
Finally, from a general HR perspective, you might also want to consider whether it is good for employee morale and wellbeing to be saying to them that we see there is an issue but that we are not going to do anything about it. It might lead to grievance and other issues and the costs saved in not providing the equipment might come back in other ways.
If you have any burning employment law questions, why not sign up for our monthly Ask The Expert webinars? Alternatively, please contact any member of the Blackadders Employment Team operating across Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Perth. We would be happy to help.
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