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Home working

Advice for employers and employees on the risks of home working and how to combat risks

​Home working is the ability to carry out work tasks from home and can take many forms. This could include

  • workers who divide their time between home and the workplace
  • mobile workers who work from home as an administrative base
  • workers performing overtime.

Sometimes the tasks are carried out

  • on a one off basis
  • for a short period
  • to allow rehabilitation for a worker returning after illness
  • to support a better work life balance.

Many tasks are largely desk based but there are jobs performed by home workers that involve the use of equipment, machinery, or substances that may be harmful to their health or other people present in the home. This work could include light assembly work, or finishing off clothing on behalf of a larger organisation.

This information is current, but it is important to consider issues in your workplace that are specific to Coronavirus (COVID-19) and make suitable arrangements to keep your staff safe. For more information and advice on working safely, read our COVID-19 guidance

  1. Common risks for home workers
  2. Employers' duties to home workers
  3. Home working legislation

2. Employers' duties to home workers

How you, as an employer, fulfil your duties will depend on the sort of work that is being carried out at home and what equipment and assistance needs to be provided.  Most health and safety issues around home working are no different from those of conventional office working and could be classified as 'low risk', but the employer is required to be confident in this.  

If the work involves more high-risk activities such as manual work, working with adhesives or chemicals or having visitors to the home, then the employer must ensure that the risk assessment is more detailed, adequately addressing the specific risks involved.

Find out how to carry out a risk assessment

Your risk assessment may direct you to provide suitable work equipment and safety equipment including personal protection equipment to the same standard as provided to work based employees. In particular Display Screen Equipment (DSE) users should have an adequate workstation with a proper chair, desk and IT equipment and you should consider whether the home workplace's ventilation, temperature, lighting, space, and floor are suitable for the tasks the home worker will be carrying out.

The employer is responsible for the equipment it supplies, but it is the employee's responsibility to rectify any flaws in the home highlighted by the assessment.

Once the home workplace has passed the assessment, it is the employee who is responsible for maintaining the situation and advising the employer of any changes.  If the home working practice is long term, the risk assessment should be repeated as it would in a work environment.

ACAS provide guidance on home working for employers and employees. 

Read the ACAS home working guide