• Non ci sono risultati.

The looming legal minefield of working from home


Academic year: 2021

Condividi "The looming legal minefield of working from home"


Testo completo


Workers are free to smoke from home again, as demonstrated by Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall © Masheter Movie Archive/Alamy

Pilita Clark YESTERDAY

Last week, a well-known London council sent its staff an arresting bit of news: it is OK to smoke at work.

To be more precise, Hammersmith and Fulham council said it was OK for employees to smoke if they were working at home, as many have been thanks to Covid-19.

To be even more precise, the council sent the message because it wanted to hose down news reports that it had banned employees from having a fag at their keyboards — even if they were at home. “We would never instruct people about smoking in their own homes,” it huffed.

Does this matter? In a normal year, not much. In the new world of remote working though, the question of what an employer can and cannot require of its staff has suddenly become much more complicated.

Today’s employment laws were drawn up at a time when the typical worker slogged in to the same building each day and headed back home at night. That time may never return.

Opinion Working from home

The looming legal minefield of working from home



A poll of more than 750 European employers published last week showed 41 per cent have plans to make it easier for staff to keep working remotely once offices reopen. They may not give a fig if their staff are lighting up at home, but they do care about much else, such as how much work is being done.

That is already raising potential legal headaches, as I discovered after calling UK employment lawyers last week.

I was expecting to hear about the tracking software, reportedly flourishing in the pandemic, that can count every keystroke on a company laptop, or take random screenshots of a monitor. But it turns out some of the worst problems are less high-tech, and more human.

At one company, staff at home were told to keep a video conference call open all day so a manager could watch what they were doing and issue any orders that popped into his head, as he always did in the office.

“I think that level of intrusion on an employee’s working from home day is quite excessive,” says Sinead Casey, a Linklaters employment lawyer.

Businesses commonly had some sort of monitoring in place before the pandemic, she told me, and they need to think carefully about whether they really need more for staff at home.

That makes sense, though not if you work on a trading floor or in a newsroom, where minute-by-minute decisions are needed.

Another big legal question hovers over the extent to which a business is obliged to supply an ergonomically safe desk, a decent computer, fast broadband and even heating, cooling and lighting. Could they face legal claims for leaving home workers adrift?

Potentially yes, says Peter Daly of Slater and Gordon.

An employment contract might not specifically mention electricity bills or broadband, but case law implies an obligation to provide a suitable working environment for employees, which could extend to paying for these costs. He says he is hearing from “an awful lot of people” who have been told to work from home but on their own computer — a tough ask for those with one old laptop the whole family shares, or no home computer at all.


Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2020. All rights reserved.

The precarious employment situation hardly encourages workers to take on a company, no matter how egregious.

And those who decide to fight face a long wait for a day in court. In the UK, social distancing rules have compounded a backlog of unheard employment complaints that by August had risen to 39,000.

If you lodge a claim today, it might not be heard until 2022, by which time your employer could have gone bust.

This does not apply to all sectors, let alone all businesses in all countries. But as virus infection rates climb and the threat of stricter lockdown rules looms, it remains a bleak reality.

When it’s all added up, whether you are working at home or not, I’m afraid there is ample reason to at least think about taking up smoking.



Documenti correlati

What we are facing now is the result of processes that have developed during the last dec- ades in philosophy, sociology, communication studies, and journalism studies. We can indicate

anche questo tipo di società avrà la sua ragione sociale; questa deve essere costituita dal nome e dal titolo professionale di tutti i soci ovvero di uno o più soci, seguito

The project took a beneficiary-centred approach in which products were developed to support innovative teaching and e-learning, (international) work placement and social

Diskussion mit den Teilnehmern Welche positiven Handlungs- möglichkeiten ergeben sich für Ihre Teilnehmer, wenn sie Informationen über ein Webquest erarbeiten, statt sie über eine

Skinner, Quentin, “Sir Thomas More’s Utopia and the language of Renaissance Humanism”, in Anthony Pagden, ed., The Languages of Political Theory in Early Modern Europe,

Subsequently, the impact on the new employee's overall job engagement was studied through a regression on multiple independent variables: recruitment and pre-boarding

In the third chapter the rectangular horn is introduced, the procedure to obtain an optimum gain horn antenna and the criteria to obtain the wider

Aus dem Gesagten kann man folgern, dass das georgische Alphabet, in welchem jedes Phonem durch einen Buchstaben abgebildet wird, die lateinische und arabische Schrifttradition

Figure 3. Photomicrographs under plain polarized light showing the relevant microstructures of rocks from layer B in the ultrabasic amphibolite from Mt. a) Detail of an igneous

While within the wide category of T/ICTM the sources of information at national level use a variety of terms and concepts, for the purpose of this study the terminology for the

Monitoring should incorporate the platform economy in official statistics at both Member State and EU levels (for example, by including several questions in the EU Labour

overwhelmingly in favour of more flexibility, depending on the age group – older staff were less keen on coming in at all, and younger people wanted to come in one or two days a

The cognitive-science pioneer E. Colin Cherry famously dubbed this “the cocktail party problem”—in reference to the common experience of suddenly cueing your attention to the sound

We adopt the Unconditional quantile regression method (Firpo et al. 2009) The unconditional quantile regression method involves the calculation of the recentred influence

We adopt the Unconditional quantile regression method (Firpo et al. 2009) The unconditional quantile regression method involves the calculation of the recentred influence

Riassumendo, dunque, l’obiettivo del survey è testare statisticamente se le conseguenze delle azioni messe in atto dall’impresa (i 4 elementi: partnership flow,

The purpose of the present study was to identify polymorphisms and evaluate the association between polymorphisms in three studied genes—IGF1 (insulin-like growth factor 1),

As regards western Liguria Maritima, the subject of this study, a uniform picture emerges of the distribution of Late Antique and early medieval cemeteries which are identified

Questa fierezza lo indurrà a chiudere la narrazione anzitempo: la sta- gione eroica del comune genovese, della crociata, della lotta con Pisa, del primo espansionismo

“Il tentativo del medico è quello di sedare nella maniera migliore possibile il paziente, scegliendo, per quanto possibile, il momento più adatto alla situazione, in modo che

solani pangenome fractions to functional COG categories revealed that higher percentages of accessory and unique pangenome parts in contrast to the core section are encountered

Heterocyclic analogs of benzanilide derivatives as potassium channel activators. 1,2,3-Triazol-carboxanilides and 1,2,3-(N-benzyl)-carboxamides as BK- potassium