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What does the law say about working from home?

Since the first intelligent lockdown in March, working from home has become an integral part of our working environment. The combination of working from home and in the office will make the new one normal.  
 
Are we saying goodbye to the office garden for good? 
Looking at the past year of suddenly having to work from home, the most obvious question is on the tip of our tongues: are we saying goodbye to the office for good? Well, not yet, but the fact that we will be working at home more regularly is a given. It took some getting used to in the beginning, and not all computer hardware was always properly set up. Calling remotely with Skype or Teams was also different from seeing your colleague or client in 'real life'. But now most people are comfortable working from home. We are convinced that working from home is here to stay. But just as we started with working from home 'with the laptop on the couch', clearer agreements will now have to be made between employee and employer about the frequency of working from home and how the home office should be set up. Because after COVID-19, besides the office, a home workplace will also become part of your working week. 
 
But what are the rules about working from home and where are the responsibilities of employee and employer? 
1. Is there a right for an employee to work from home?
An employee can request flexible working, which can include working from home, after 26 weeks consecutive service. An employer can refuse this request if they can demonstrate that this would have a detrimental effect on the business by granting flexible (home) working. 
2. What are your obligations as an employer when employees work from home?
An employer is responsible for the health and safety of their employees wherever they are performing their work duties. There is a legal obligation for an employer to carry out a risk assessment for their home workers and take responsible steps to correct any issues that are reported. 
 
Without a risk assessment being completed, the employer is liable for a fine and could potentially leave themselves exposed if an employee claims for any injuries that occur whilst working at home. 
The Health and Safety Display Screen Equipment regulations apply to anyone using DSE equipment for more than one hour or more at a time (This includes laptops, tablets, PC and smartphones. Completion of a DSE assessment may lead to the introduction of equipment such as a separate keyboard, mouse and a laptop riser to improve the set up of a home worker. The equipment remains the property of an employer if they have provided it following on from a DSE assessment having taken place.  A DSE checklist is available from https://www.hse.gov.uk/toolbox/workers/home.htm#dse.
Work-life balance. Is it still there?
We have all experienced what it is like to work at home. For one employee, it's a relief that more gets done and he is less disturbed by colleagues, for example. Others miss the social contacts and the chance to catch up at the coffee machine. For the time being, we will continue to work at home a large part of the time, as this is the only way that many companies can comply with the 2.0m society. Yet we increasingly notice that it is difficult for workers to maintain a good work-life balance. 
 
And this leads to a growing number of stress-related complaints, experts tell us. The psychosocial workload is difficult to measure from a distance. There is little or no insight into the employee, it requires a different way of managing and many workers are afraid of losing their jobs because of the possible approaching recession and therefore prefer not to say how they are really doing. In addition, we notice (and several studies, including Bloomberg May? 2020, endorse this) that people are working more hours and longer consecutively at home. So a good home office is important.
Good home office furniture
A good home office set consists of a number of components: 
1. The correct position of the monitor; if you work with a laptop, this can be realised with a laptop stand, such as the Ergo-Q 330 or the circular and durable Ergo-Top 320. If you have a laptop or use a desktop PC, you will also need an (external) monitor. With a monitor arm or a monitor raiser, you can place the screen at the right viewing height and distance. 
2. Ensure that the chair and table are at the right height. A kitchen table is often higher than a desk. A good desk, whether or not height-adjustable, plus a good office chair are essential.  
3. When using a laptop, an external mouse and keyboard are very important. With these two aids, you can adopt a relaxed and compact working posture, which puts less strain on your muscles and reduces the risk of physical discomfort. The UltraBoard 950 compact keyboard brings the mouse closer to the body than a standard version. 

Physical and mental fitness 
In addition to the practical hardware solutions that are necessary at every home workplace, it is also important to coach people in their behaviour. Do they take regular recovery moments? Are they not staring at a screen for too long? BakkerElkhuizen has developed the WORK & MOVE employee well-being software for this purpose.

The WORK & MOVE software contributes demonstrably to a sustainable performance improvement. As a personal coach, WORK & MOVE ensures sufficient variation between mental and physical exercise and concentrated screen work. WORK & MOVE gives your employees insight and feedback on their work behaviour. Based on personal preferences, the software recommends an optimal work, rest and exercise rhythm.  

The software teaches employees to adopt these routines. By regularly including mental and physical moments of exercise (so-called pit stops), your employees remain energetic and work with greater concentration. Scientific studies show that pit stops also have a positive effect on productivity and the quality of work. 



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