Homeworker Allowance Definition

This policy was adopted by the Board on 11 February 2012 and reviewed and updated by the Chief Executive in June 2016. It is part of a series of Staff Policies.

Introduction

Wikimedia UK strives to be a flexible employer, with work practices that serve its business needs and accommodate the needs of its employees.

This policy sets out the mutual rights and responsibilities of Wikimedia UK and the home worker.

Home working with Wikimedia UK

Certain posts require the jobholder’s presence at the offices of Wikimedia UK, but staff in these posts will be eligible to work on an occasional basis from home by prior agreement with the Chief Executive.

Other roles in the Wikimedia UK may require the jobholder to be away from any office base for most of their working hours. Home working may therefore be a standard condition for these roles.

Some roles permit the work to be undertaken from more than one location and, subject to the terms of this policy, jobholders in these posts may work from home.

This policy has been written to comply with Wikimedia UK’s statutory obligations under the following legislation:

  • Health & Safety at Work Act (1974)
  • Data Protection Act (1998)
  • Working Time Regulations (1998)

Principles of home working at Wikimedia UK

Business needs

Any working practice adopted must serve Wikimedia UK’s business needs as defined locally.

Home working is recognised to have the possibility of increasing productivity, raising morale, reducing sickness and absence. Home working can also enable Wikimedia UK to recruit from a wider range of potential employees, and provides an opportunity to keep down cost of space, thus reducing our overall costs and expenditure.

Terms and conditions of employment

In all respects other than provided for by this policy, home working staff will retain the same terms and conditions of employment as office-based staff. Their normal place of work however will be identified in their contract of employment as somewhere other than the Wikimedia UK office.

Home workers must be available for work duties during their normal hours of work (as agreed with the Chief Executive). Therefore, any domestic arrangements such as ensuring that childcare is available if required must remain in place during hours of work.

Equipment

Staff who work from home may agree with their line manager to use their own personal computer and/or other equipment for work purposes, provided it complies with Wikimedia UK’s hardware and software requirements. However, wherever possible, Wikimedia UK’s equipment and software will be used.

A member of staff using their own PC for home working purposes must keep all of the work for Wikimedia UK in one area of the hard disk and restrict access to that area to him/herself only, or on removable media disks which are locked away after use or on a secure cloud platform. Wikimedia UK does not make a commitment to maintain personal IT equipment used for work purposes. However, if there is heavy use of a piece of equipment on Wikimedia UK’s business, at the discretion of the Chief Executive, Wikimedia UK may negotiate with the staff member a reasonable contribution towards the cost of repair and maintenance.

Where personal IT equipment does not comply with Wikimedia UK’s standards or staff do not have the IT equipment necessary for home working, Wikimedia UK will provide (lend) equipment and peripherals appropriate to the job to the home worker and will support and modify the equipment as necessary. The scope of this provision will be at the discretion of Wikimedia UK, agreed at the start of the arrangement, and its appropriateness will be reviewed from time to time as necessary.

Where the equipment is provided (lent), but is not installed, by Wikimedia UK, adequate training will be provided to the home worker to do so, or the costs of a local service provider will be met. Thereafter, Wikimedia UK will maintain the equipment on an ongoing basis. Staff will use on-line help facilities to solve minor difficulties. If a major repair is required, it will be the responsibility of the employee to arrange this with either the original lender or an appropriate local provider, once approval has been given by their line manager.

Equipment provided (lent) by Wikimedia UK is for the use of the employee only, and the security of any such equipment will be the responsibility of the employee. Wikimedia UK equipment provided for home working purposes may only be used by the home worker and not by others at their place of home working.

On termination of employment all equipment supplied should be returned including all storage media and backup copies held. If the PC is your own then all Wikimedia UK documents and email should be backed up, returned to Wikimedia UK on backup media and then deleted from your computer.

Insurance

Equipment lent by Wikimedia UK for a member of staff to use for home-working purposes will be insured for loss or damage under Wikimedia UK’s insurance policies, providing the Office and Development manager receives the following information:

  • Name and address of the employee where the equipment is mainly used / stored.
  • Type of equipment, serial number and purchase/replacement cost.

Please note that Wikimedia UK equipment left in a car during working hours must be locked in the boot, out of sight. Equipment must not be left in the car outside of working hours or overnight since it will not be covered by Wikimedia UK’ insurance in such circumstances.

If a member of staff purchases their own equipment that may be used for Wikimedia UK’s work, they will be responsible for insuring this equipment.

The member of staff will also be responsible for informing their insurance provider that their premises are to be used for work purposes.

Space provision and health and safety risk assessment

During the recruitment process the recruiting manager will discuss with the prospective home worker the suitability of the place from where the individual proposes to home work. It should be an area which allows the home worker:

  • to generally work free of domestic or other interruption
  • to deal with telephone calls in a confidential manner in a quiet environment.

The area allocated to work should be adequate in terms of space to accommodate a desk/work surface, office chair, PC, telephone, and secure storage area.

All intended home workspaces will be subject to a health and safety risk assessment. The assessment will include identification of hazards and risks, of who could be harmed and how, and of what action should be taken in the event of accidents. The assessments will generally be made by staff themselves, with appropriate support, and should be carried out prior to the home location becoming the workplace. Thereafter a yearly self-assessment must be made, and a re-assessment must take place following any significant changes to the work environment.

A full copy of Wikimedia UK’s Health & Safety Policy can be obtained on request from the Office Manager.

If a proposed working location is found to be unsuitable, and modification to reach the necessary standard are not practical/cost effective, then, upholding its duty of care to the employee, the employee will not be permitted to work from that location.

Data Protection

Storage, retrieval and manipulation of data by home workers, whether on paper or by computer, must comply with the requirements of Wikimedia UK’s Data Protection Policy.

All papers containing confidential or personal information should be stored in a secure cabinet at the end of the working day.

Expenses

Wikimedia UK will provide through the payroll a non taxable allowance of £150 per annum, paid in monthly instalments with salary to offset additional costs associated with home working (e.g. heating and lighting). Copies of invoices are not necessary to claim this allowance. The allowance will be paid to staff whose base in real and practical terms is their home, and who otherwise would be office-based. The offer (ultimately determined by the Chief Executive) and acceptance of a home working agreement will ultimately define whether an employee is home based. This document may override the definition contained in the employee’s statement of terms and conditions.

Wikimedia UK will meet the costs if deemed necessary, of installing a telephone line and provision of equipment as agreed with the Chief Executive.

Wikimedia UK will meet the cost of any appropriate additional costs such as a PO Box Address. Any such expenditure must be discussed and agreed with the home worker’s line manager. The home worker’s base, for the purpose of claiming travel expenses, will be their home address. Employees who are required to work at home may claim reimbursement of their broadband fee. The amount to be agreed with the Chief Executive.

Legal Matters

Home workers are advised to check with the relevant party(s) that there are no severe covenants on the use of their home as an office, either as a result of a mortgage agreement or a lease. It is the home worker’s responsibility to make the appropriate checks and Wikimedia UK will not accept liability for any loss suffered by the worker as a result of failing to make checks.

Management

Management of the home worker, other than where detailed in the provisions of this policy, will not differ from the management of Wikimedia UK office-based staff.

The Chief Executive and line manager (if different) will involve the employee in devising the most appropriate methods of maintaining team cohesion and collaboration, paying particular attention to the working relationship between the home worker and any administrative support. Home workers will be expected to attend meetings at the office as determined by the Chief Executive and/or line manager.

Communication

The Chief Executive will agree with home workers the measures that will ensure regularity of one to one supervision and other communications from Wikimedia UK.

All home working staff will attend team meetings and other events as specified by Wikimedia UK.

In the event of sickness, home workers must contact their line manager as soon as possible on the first day of sickness and comply with all aspects of the sickness reporting procedures.

Recruitment and selection

During the recruitment process, (as a minimum this must be included on the person specification) candidates will be informed if home working is a requirement for their post; similarly, candidates for posts where home working is an option will be informed of the possibility. In both cases their suitability for home working will be assessed.

On appointment, a new member of staff will receive thorough induction, an opportunity to become familiar with Wikimedia UK, the structure and operation of the organisation, systems and procedures, and to build relationships with the Chief Executive, their line manager and other colleagues. A home worker’s induction will be designed with particular care to ensure that these aims are met.

Moving house

Potential house moves by home workers should be discussed with their line manager and the Chief Executive (if different) at an early opportunity.

Where a home worker undertakes a house move, they will be asked to demonstrate that the proposed workspace at the new premises is of an adequate size as detailed in section 5 above relating to minimum workspace requirements.

Where the home worker’s responsibilities relate to a specific geographical area, and the proposed move will take them out of that geographical area, then they must also satisfy the Chief Executive that the additional travelling involved will not lead to a risk to their health or safety at work.

Withdrawal from home working

If a home worker finds that it is no longer possible or convenient for them to work from home, Wikimedia UK will seek to accommodate them within an office, subject to the availability of funding and of suitable office accommodation. However, Wikimedia UK cannot guarantee that a move to office accommodation will be possible. It is strongly recommended that home workers who anticipate that working from home will cease to be possible should discuss this with the Chief Executive at the earliest opportunity.

Working hours

Home workers are advised to take steps to distinguish clearly between working and personal time in order to avoid a ‘blurring’ of boundaries between the two. This is particularly important where the home worker is part-time or is required to work irregular (not standard office) hours. Such steps might include:

  • Specifying in advance the days and times of availability each week and notifying relevant colleagues.
  • Setting up email and voicemail messages advising when the home worker will next be available to deal with calls and queries, thus setting realistic expectations.
  • Avoiding answering business calls or logging in to business email during personal time.

Recording time worked and discussing this regularly with the line manager

Monitoring and evaluation

The Chief Executive and staff share responsibility for monitoring the success of the home working arrangements. Any problems arising should be addressed between the home worker and the Chief Executive at the earliest opportunity.

HOME WORKING AGREEMENT

The original of this agreement should be sent to the Office Manager to be held on the home worker's personnel file. Copies should be distributed as follows:

  • Personnel file
  • Staff member
  • Line Manager

Wikimedia UK’s equipment to be used for home working, with serial numbers

Own equipment to be used on Wikimedia UK’s business at home base


In addition I have agreed to the following with my manager


Date at which the home working agreement will commence


Date of first review


Signed & dated by member of staff


Signed & dated by Chief executive

Website URL : http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx/images/acas/helplineonline/media/pdf/0/m/media/pdf/q/9/index.aspx?articleid=4853

Homeworking

The number of employees working from home in office-type jobs, or roles involving travel where home is used as a base, is steadily increasing. Acas has produced a guide to help both employers and employees deal with the implications of working from home.

View or download the Acas guide:

 Homeworking - a guide for employers and employees [272kb]

Key points

  • There are different degrees of homeworking or tele-commuting - some people work almost entirely at home while others work from home only occasionally 
  • Employers must consider if the job and job holder are suitable for homeworking 
  • Many homeworkers say they have a better work-life balance 
  • Homeworking or tele-working may be considered as a reasonable adjustment to allow a disabled worker to carry on with their role  

Homeworking can present challenges to both employers and employees. For employers, this can include managing staff who work on their own and away from the main business base. For employees, it can include overcoming feelings of isolation and managing the boundaries between home and work life.

What is homeworking?

Homeworking or tele-commuting can cover a variety of arrangements:

  • Working entirely at home apart from attending regular or occasional meeting at the office or with customers 
  • Time split between office and home or with customers - for example, two days in the office and three days at home or with customers 
  • Some staff may prefer to work in the office and work from home only occasionally

Homeworking is a type of flexible working which, depending on the agreement between employer and employee, can be also used in conjunction with other arrangements such as flexible hours, working part-time, term-time working or the employer's core hours.

However, homeworking and other forms of flexible working do not have to be used together. For example, an employer could stipulate that a homeworker works the same working pattern as office-based staff.

Acas research found a mix of working from the office and home gives the best results in job satisfaction, work performance and reducing stress.

Things for employers to consider

One of the first steps for an employer is considering whether the job is suitable for homeworking or tele-working. Many roles may be, but others may not.

Employers may find that cost saving or a need for a wider geographical spread of staff mean they might consider homeworking. Some other factors to consider include whether the role needs:

  • Team working
  • Face-to-face supervision
  • Equipment (and will it be cost-effective to install in the home?)
  • Equipment which can only be in the organisation's central base

While homeworking can be seen as an attractive option, it will not suit everyone. A homeworker needs to be able to cope with working on their own with little supervision. Homeworkers ideally need to be:

  • Able to spend long periods on their own and be confident working without supervision 
  • Self-disciplined and self-motivated 
  • Able to separate work from home life

Helpful homeworking tools

The Acas guide includes two useful checklists, which are also available for download here in Microsoft Word format:

Managing homeworkers

Managers may find managing homeworkers more difficult than managing office-based staff. Some key areas for managers to be aware of are:

  • Building trust between manager and homeworker
  • Agreeing how work performance will be supervised and measured
  • Communicating effectively
  • Training so both staff who work from home and their managers can do their roles effectively

A lack of trust can be the biggest barrier to achieving successful homeworking. It can be challenging for managers who prefer face-to-face supervision. Managers should make sure the employee knows what is expected of them within their role and how they are expected to work in sharing information and ideas with both managers and colleagues. Having systems or policies in place will help the organisation run effectively.

Performance management for homeworkers should be consistent with that of office-based staff, and regular face-to-face reviews will help assess progress or raise any concerns.

Office-based managers tend to communicate more frequently face-to-face with office-based staff. However, it is important to maintain communication with homeworkers. This can be through email, telephone or video conferencing, and regular face-to-face meetings. It is good practice for homeworkers to attend regular meetings in the office, as this can help with keeping in touch with the rest of the business.

Health and safety for homeworkers

Employers have a duty of care for all their employees, and the requirements of the health and safety legislation apply to homeworkers. The employer is responsible for carrying out a risk assessment to check whether the proposed home workplace's ventilation, temperature, lighting, space, chair, desk and computer, or any kind of workstation, and floor are suitable for the tasks the homeworker will be carrying out.

The employer is responsible for the equipment it supplies, but it is the employee's responsibility to rectify any flaws in the home highlighted by the assessment. Once the home workplace has passed the assessment, it is the employee who is responsible for keeping it that way.

About our homeworking guidance

This guidance focuses on regular homeworking that has been officially agreed between employee and employer, not incidental homeworking, such as leaving the office on time to do extra hours at home, or one-off situations. It is aimed primarily at homeworking in office-related roles or arrangements where home is used as a base for travel.

Note: Our homeworking guidance does not cover 'traditional homeworking' - people working at home on tasks such as knitting, making up garments or filling envelopes - also also known as 'out workers' or 'piece workers'. For information on piece work, see Piece work.

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