Protect home workers
Coronavirus (COVID-19): update
This page has been updated to take account of working arrangements during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
As an employer, you have the same health and safety responsibilities for home workers as for any other workers.
When someone is working from home, permanently or temporarily, as an employer you should consider:
- How will you keep in touch with them?
- What work activity will they be doing (and for how long)?
- Can it be done safely?
- Do you need to put control measures in place to protect them?
Lone working without supervision
There will always be greater risks for lone workers with no direct supervision or anyone to help them if things go wrong.
Keep in touch with lone workers, including those working from home, and ensure regular contact to make sure they are healthy and safe.
If contact is poor, workers may feel disconnected, isolated or abandoned. This can affect stress levels and mental health.
Stress and mental health
Home working can cause work-related stress and affect people’s mental health.
Being away from managers and colleagues could make it difficult to get proper support.
Keep in touch
Put procedures in place so you can keep in direct contact with home workers so you can recognise signs of stress as early as possible.
It is also important to have an emergency point of contact and to share this so people know how to get help if they need it.
Working with display screen equipment
For those people who are working at home on a long-term basis, the risks associated with using display screen equipment (DSE) must be controlled. This includes them doing workstation assessments at home. There is no increased risk from DSE work for those working at home temporarily. So in that situation employers do not need to ask them to carry out home workstation assessments. During any period of temporary home working, employers need to regularly discuss these arrangements with their employees. If such work is adversely affecting the health, safety and welfare of their employees, they should take appropriate steps.
However, employers should provide workers with advice on completing their own basic assessment at home. This practical workstation checklist (PDF) - Portable Document Format may help them. There are some simple steps people can take to reduce the risks from display screen work:
- breaking up long spells of DSE work with rest breaks (at least 5 minutes every hour) or changes in activity
- avoiding awkward, static postures by regularly changing position
- getting up and moving or doing stretching exercises
- avoiding eye fatigue by changing focus or blinking from time to time
Our page on DSE and home working has more detailed advice. The page also has information about specialised equipment needs and keeping arrangements under review.