What Are My Rights When Hybrid Working?

Posted: 11 Jun, 2024.

With the shift in work dynamics following the COVID-19 pandemic, hybrid working has gained significant popularity. Now over 85% of UK organisations are offering some form of remote work option and 68% of employees favour a hybrid set-up.

More recently, as of April 2024, employees in the UK can make a statutory request to make permanent changes to their contract from their first day of employment, including requesting a change to their work location. This new regulation is expected to boost hybrid working even further.

With these changes unfolding and the hybrid working landscape continuing to evolve, it’s crucial for both employers and employees to understand their rights and responsibilities.

What is Hybrid Working?

Hybrid working refers to a flexible work model that combines remote work and on-site work. Employees typically split their time between working from home and working from a shared office or coworking space.

This approach allows for a balance between the benefits of remote work, such as improved work-life balance and productivity, and the advantages of in-person collaboration and company culture.

What are the Benefits of Hybrid Working?

Hybrid working offers a range of benefits for both employees and employers. For employees, it can:

  • improve work-life balance,
  • provide greater flexibility, and
  • reduce time and costs associated with commuting.

Employers can also benefit from increased productivity, access to a wider talent pool and reduced overhead costs for office spaces.

Challenges of Hybrid Working

While hybrid working presents many advantages, it also poses some challenges that must be addressed. These include:

  • ensuring effective communication and collaboration between remote and on-site employees,
  • maintaining company culture and
  • ensuring the physical and psychological safety of employees out of sight.

Employee Rights While Hybrid Working

Understanding rights and responsibilities is crucial for both employees and employers when it comes to hybrid working. Employers have a duty of care to create a safe and supportive working environment for all employees regardless of where they work. For employees, this means being treated fairly, having access to necessary resources and having relevant safety procedures in place.

Do I Have the Right to Hybrid Working?

Yes. Previously, in the UK employees had to have at least 26 weeks of service to have the legal right to request flexible working arrangements. However, as of 6th April 2024, employees can make a statutory request to make permanent changes to their contract from their first day of employment.

This means that from day one, employees can ask an employer for changes to how long, when and where they work. Employers also have the right to decline the request with reasonable justification.

Right to a Safe Working Environment

Under The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, employees have the right to a safe working environment, regardless of their location. This legislation places a general duty on employers to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all their employees.

This means that employers are responsible for ensuring that remote workstations meet the same health and safety standards as their on-site facilities. This includes providing the necessary equipment, such as ergonomic furniture and appropriate lighting, as well as ensuring that employees have a safe and secure space to work.

This may also involve providing access to personal safety technology. As of 2020, employees working from home are considered to be lone workers and so employers must take steps to protect employees from the risk of harm associated with this.

Right to Fair Treatment

Employees also have the right to be treated fairly, regardless of their work location. Employers must ensure that remote workers are not subjected to discrimination, biases, or unfair treatment compared to their on-site colleagues. This includes equal access to training, development opportunities, and career advancement.

Employment Laws and Regulations

Organisations with hybrid work models must ensure compliance with legislation such as the Working Time Regulations, which outline maximum weekly working hours, rest breaks, and holiday entitlements. Employers must also be mindful of rules surrounding overtime pay and the National Minimum Wage, especially for remote workers whose hours may be more difficult to monitor.

Best Practices for Hybrid Working

As the preferences and expectations of the workforce evolve, organisations must be prepared to adapt their working models to meet the changing needs of employees.

Factors such as work-life balance, career development, and mental wellbeing are becoming increasingly important considerations for workers, driving the demand for more flexible, supportive, and safe work environments. This is particularly true in Gen Z, where 75% report that workplace flexibility is the number one employee benefit they seek.

So, employers looking to attract the next generation of talent must be ready to implement innovative policies, benefits, and training programmes that cater to a hybrid workforce. Here are some key considerations for a successful hybrid working set up:

1. Hybrid Working Policies

To ensure a successful hybrid working arrangement, employers should develop a clear and accessible policy that outlines the expectations, guidelines, and procedures for remote work.

This policy should address all key areas, including work schedules, equipment, data security and personal safety. It should also outline the tools and technologies that will be provided to support effective remote collaboration and communication.

2. Effective Communication

Regular communication is crucial in ensuring a successful hybrid work environment. Employers should implement reliable video and messaging platforms to ensure easy interactions between on-site and remote team members.

Regular team meetings, one-on-one check-ins, and open feedback channels can help bridge the distance and ensure that everyone feels connected and informed.

Creating opportunities for team-building activities can also foster a stronger sense of engagement and strengthen connections, supporting collaboration and teamwork.

3. Physical Safety

Ensuring physical safety is essential for hybrid employees, especially those who may be alone while working from home. Employers should provide guidance on creating safe home workspaces, including recommendations for ergonomic furniture, proper lighting, and the prevention of trip hazards. Additionally, employers should establish protocols for reporting any safety concerns or incidents, whether they occur at home or on-site.

Access to personal safety technology, such as the Peoplesafe Pro App, can provide an extra layer of security and peace of mind for employees working remotely. With the app, employees can set welfare checks at predetermined intervals to confirm their safety. If the check is missed, an alarm is raised to our dedicated control centre, here an expertly trained controller can contact pre-defined escalation contacts or alert the emergency services if necessary.

This ensures that employees who suffer an accident, injury, or illness receive the necessary support, even if they are unable to call for help themselves.

4. Mental health Support

Employers should prioritise mental health awareness by providing resources and training on mental health topics. This can include access to counselling services through employee assistance programmes (EAPs), providing online resources for managing stress and promoting wellbeing, or integrating mental health days.

Regular check-ins between managers and employees can also provide opportunities for discussing any challenges or concerns related to mental health. It’s also been shown that feeling unsafe can negatively impact mental health, so by providing services that improve feelings of personal safety, mental health is likely to improve.

The Future of Hybrid Working

When thinking about a new role, 69% say the ability to work remotely is important. So, it’s unsurprising that 90% of organisations are creating policies and infrastructure to support working remotely, setting up a future of home and hybrid working.

As this shift continues, emerging trends and technologies are reshaping the hybrid working model, offering new possibilities and challenges for both employers and employees.

Advancements in communication platforms, collaboration tools, and workforce management software are transforming the way hybrid teams interact and collaborate. Cloud-based apps, video conferencing and project management platforms are enabling remote collaboration, while data analytics and AI are optimising productivity and resource allocation.

More organisations are also turning to personal safety technology to provide employees with a sense of security and fulfil their duty of care when working alone or in unfamiliar locations.

This can lead to increased employee morale, improved resource allocation and more effective remote support. Ultimately, the success of hybrid working depends on the organisation’s ability to adapt to the changing needs of their workforce and to prioritise their employees.

Hybrid Working FAQ

Can I request to work from home?

Yes, all employees in the UK now have the right to request to work from home from day 1 of employment. However, your employer also has a right to deny this request with reasonable justification. This might include the job requiring on-site presence, potential harm to business operations or inadequate home workspace safety.

Employees have several rights in a hybrid working model, including the right to a safe working environment, whether in the office or at home, the right to fair treatment and non-discrimination, and the right to be treated the same as any on-site employees.

Employers have a duty to provide employees with the necessary equipment and tools to work effectively, ensure data security and privacy, and maintain clear and regular communication to support productivity and safety.

Hybrid working arrangements must comply with relevant employment laws and regulations in the UK, including those governing health and safety, working hours, overtime pay, and employee rights.

Key best practices include implementing effective communication strategies, fostering collaboration and teamwork, and encouraging continuous learning and adaptation to ensure the success of a hybrid working model.

Organisations can ensure the safety of employees working from home by maintaining regular communication and equipping employees with personal safety technology to allow direct access to help in emergencies. 

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