With the pandemic turning the way many of us work on it’s head, many businesses and organisations are now looking to implement hybrid working.
Following on from their first article, Is hybrid working the future? Hallidays are offering advice and support on the polices, contractual changes and legal risks related to implementing hybrid working within your business or organisation.
Do we need a hybrid working policy?
Yes, it’s certainly advisable as it provides clarity to you and all of your team. The policy should include:
- How it will work
- Office availability / level of attendance
- Attendance for meetings & social events
- Any restrictions
- The right to withdraw hybrid working from some or all if it is not working
Updating other polices and procedures
You should also review and update any other company policies and procedures that are impacted by hybrid working. Some possible ones to consider are:
- IT Security
- GDPR (data protection)
- Health and safety
- Expenses and travel
You should review existing contracts as you may need to make changes relating to:
- Place of work – if you introduce flexible hybrid working there is no need to amend a contract that states ‘office premises’. However, if you adopt a prescribed approach or opt to work from home permanently contracts will need changing. If offices are closing or relocating it is important to get professional advice as there could be implications for redundancy.
- Hours of work – will you offer greater flexibility? Introduce core hours to be available?
- Pay and Allowances – ‘London weighting’, company cars fuel allowances may no longer be appropriate but removing could lead to opposition. Instead, companies tend to keep the ‘package’ the same but enforce pay freezes. All new starters can be put on the new terms and conditions.
- Expenses – it’s important to update your policy to reflect whatever decisions are made in this area.
Changing a Contractual Term
If you wish to make a change to an existing contract of employment, then it is vital that you follow a full and proper process to alleviate any risks in imposing changes to your employees without their agreement.
If the change you are proposing affects more than 20 employees’, then you will need to collectively consult – either with employee representatives or trade unions if applicable.
Hallidays HR have written a White Paper ‘Hybrid Working’ which outlines the consultation process to follow and offers further advice.
Hallidays HR can advise you on the legal risks involved, some of which include:
- Breach of Contract
- Unfair Dismissal (including Constructive Dismissal)
- Indirect Sex Discrimination – this is when a practice or policy indirectly disadvantages men or women. So, for example if there is a decrease in pay for home workers, and more home workers are women this could indirectly discriminate against women.
- Indirect Age Discrimination – An example might be if you were to refuse all junior workers from working from home this could indirectly discriminate against young people.
- Failure to consult
- Breach of the collective consultation obligations carries the sanction of a “protective award” of up to 90 days gross actual pay for each affected employee.
- Right to Request Flexible Working
- Those who are eligible, still have the right to put in a formal flexible working application, and an application must be handled following the statutory guidelines (including the statutory reasons for refusal).
Article written by Liz Chiva, HR Director, Hallidays