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How will hybrid working change your employees’ contracts?

Hybrid or flexible working has been part of the employment landscape for some time, with employees looking to achieve a better work-life balance. The time we all spent working from home has led to more requests for home or hybrid working. We look at the practical aspects of hybrid working and the points you need to consider as an employer when it comes to your employees’ contracts.

How often do you need staff to be in the office?

Many employers have found that their staff are reluctant to return to the office post lockdown, with the Financial Times reporting that UK office occupancy is currently running at just 25%. Some companies have decided to opt for long-term home working. If you’re taking a hybrid approach it’s important to consider why you need your employees to be in the office and how often, so that you can present a business case in response to requests for hybrid working.

Does every employee need to be at work on the same day or can different teams be in the office at different times? The answers will help you to manage office space and facilities effectively.

Employee choice

Each employee will have their own reasons for wanting to work at home. It could help them to manage childcare responsibilities, give them more time for extracurricular activities or simply allow them to avoid the rush hour. However, it’s important to consider how your employees’ working patterns will impact your business. Is home-based or office-based working interchangeable in terms of each employee’s tasks? Can each employee decide where they’re going to work when they get up each morning or do you need them to confirm set days in advance? This isn’t just important in terms of facilities management. There are some indications that having team members working together in the same place is good for morale and employees’ mental health.

What’s in their existing contract?

Hybrid working may lead to a change to each employee’s contract. Whether this is required will depend on what’s in their existing contract and how much flexibility it allows. It’s likely that their contract will specify a place of work with provisions allowing you to ask them to work somewhere else if necessary. Their hours of work will also be set out, but hybrid working may necessitate a change if they’ve asked to work a longer day in the office in return for a shorter day at home. It’s also worth getting advice on anything that may be deemed to be part of their contract because of changes during their employment, for example, one employee always working at home on a Friday.

Practical considerations

Employment contracts used to be created for employees who worked in the office most of the time. They pay their travel expenses and you deal with the electricity bills and supply the coffee. It’s important to consider whether the balance of expenses needs to shift in response to hybrid working.

There are other issues too. How do you ensure that confidential information is secure when staff are working remotely? Do you need to supply them with specialist equipment to do their job at home, or will you specify that some tasks can only be done in the office? Will you visit each employee’s home office to carry out a risk assessment or train them to do it themselves? Employee contracts and your workplace policies may all need to be adjusted to suit.

Do you need to review your employees’ contracts or get advice on the implications of hybrid working? Get in touch.

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