Hybrid Working: Most frequently asked questions

Written by Jennifer Ormond
3 August, 2021
hybrid working

Hybrid working is a hot topic for businesses at the moment!  You can read more about what hybrid working entails here.  Many employers are facing the same questions and dilemmas about hybrid working so we have broken down our top 10 frequently asked questions.

Hybrid Working: Is hybrid working the future?

The questions below will be discussed in full in our most recent video.  Alternatively, read on to see a brief response and then listen online if any answer sparks your interest.

10 questions

1) No man’s land: Do employees have any contractual rights to stay at home if they have worked remotely for 12 months?

The right to work from home could become implied into a contract of employment by virtue of custom and practice.  A practice that has occurred every day for 17 months will usually become custom and practice.

That being said, there are three main factors that employers can rely on to demonstrate that the right to work from home is not now a contractual right:

  1. The completely unprecedented times of a worldwide pandemic;
  2. The government’s instructions to stay home;
  3. Communications throughout the pandemic confirming “you are still working from home for the time being…”

We are confident that there is no right to continue working from home.

Employers should still listen out for flexible working requests and deal with them accordingly.

2) Forcing a return to the workplace: How can I force a return to the workplace if an employee refuses?

So long as you have completed a covid risk assessment that shows no or very little risk, you can require your team to return to the workplace.

If an employee refuses, you should issue a reasonable management instruction to return to work.  This should be accompanied by a copy of the risk assessment.  So long as the employee is not refusing to work based on a protected characteristic, a reasonable belief of danger (or some other limited protected grounds), you can proceed to a disciplinary process and potentially dismiss.

3) Hybrid working contractual changes: Our checklist and templates for contract & policy changes for hybrid working

Have you amended your contracts to properly detail:

  • Place of work
  • Hours of work
  • Right to enter the employee’s house
  • Detail of equipment and insurance
  • Expenses/mileage
  • Sickness reporting rules
  • Confidentiality
  • Right to deduct monies (such as for time wasted travelling back t collect forgotten items)
  • A caveat about a returning to the workplace (see question 7)

Have you also reviewed your GDPR policy?

4) The Coordination: How managers should manage hybrid working for employees on different time schedules or different days in the workplace.

Tune in to find out more!

5) Productivity periods: What are they and do we have to accommodate them?

Much has been made of ‘productivity periods’ in the media of late.  Whether it be consideration of certain days of the month where women are less productive, or certain hours in the day where employees are more creative.

Productivity periods usually affect more creative roles where some employees find that they are more efficient in the morning than afternoons.  It means that during periods when an employee really needs to focus, they arrange their own working day subject to how they feel.  A night-owl might crack on through to 1 am whereas other employees may find that they work best 5 am -9 pm.

There is no legal obligation to accommodate productivity periods but especially in creative roles, it makes sense to consider how to get the best from your team.

There are additional considerations set down by the Working Time Regulations and employers should still adhere to the minimum rest periods between work.

6) School holiday woes: Is it legal to allow hybrid working during term time only when children are in school (to avoid distractions)?

Yes! – Tune in to find out how to objectively justify this decision, or how to apply it to all staff irrespective of whether they have children.

7) Reversing Hybrid Working: Will I be able to revert to more traditional workplace working in the future?

If you follow our advice when implementing hybrid working and afford yourself the right to revert to more traditional office-based working, then yes.

This is especially important for businesses and we are advocating for protecting the business position by including a caveat in any variation to contract.

8) Commitment Worries: I can manage workload remotely but how do I manage investment and commitment to the business?

Investing in staff in a business is not a quick job.  It takes time to integrate new employees and it takes even longer for employees to understand the whole business rather than just their department.

Tune in to listen to our top tips on committing remote-based or hybrid workers to your business!

9) Part-Time and Hybrid Dilemma: If we allow part-time workers to work in the hybrid model, I will hardly see them.  Do I have to permit this?

If you are allowing full-time workers to work in a new hybrid way, you must also allow part-time workers the same pro-rata equivalent.

The Part-time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000 entitles part-time workers to be treated the same as full-time employees.  The only exception we predict is where giving a part-time employee the equivalent time at home means that they have to split a day: half at home; half at the workplace. If this is the case we can assist in objectively justifying the refusal, subject to business demands.

10) Staff Quarrels: Do all departments have to be offered hybrid working?  Who pays for their equipment and can we hot desk when they are in the workplace?

You don’t have to offer all departments hybrid working.  So long as you can explain why you need a certain department in the workplace all the time, you can enforce that as a rule.

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