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Homeworking FAQs

What is homeworking?

Homeworking is a flexible working agreement that enables members of staff to work from home for some or all of the time.

How can a member of staff request to work from home?

Staff wanting to request working from home should complete the Trust's Flexible Working Application. Additionally, staff must complete and submit with their request (see downloads):

  • The Trust's Homeworking Checklist
  • The Trust's Homeworking DSE Self-Assessment: this must be completed and returned to the line manager for review and approval before home working can commence

What hours of work are expected when working from home and can these be flexible?

Where possible, normal working hours should be maintained. However, it is expected that staff may have additional responsibilities during this period and a discussion around working hours should take place between the staff member and manager.

Can a member of staff take breaks when working from home?

It is important that staff take regular breaks when working from home. Staff should ensure that they move regularly, which could include making a drink, standing up to make phone calls or stretching.

Members of staff who work six hours or more each day are entitled to a 30-minute unpaid lunch break. It's important that staff working from home take their lunch break and have time away from their screen. Staff could consider being active during their lunch break, for example by going for a walk or stretching to help build movement into the day.

Can all staff work from home?

Unfortunately some roles are not suitable for homeworking, there are a number of other flexible working options available to staff for consideration.

If a member of staff is struggling to work from home, can they work on-site?

While homeworking is encouraged where possible, it is recognised that homeworking does not suit all staff.

Staff may need to be considered for working on-site if homeworking is having a negative impact on their mental or physical well-being. For example, staff may need access to specific equipment to enable them to undertake their role.

Managers should give consideration to enabling staff to work on-site, providing social distancing is maintained and appropriate risk assessments are completed.

Managers will need to review requests on an individual and departmental level.

Consideration could be given to rotas to enable a limited number of staff on-site to work, and/or to changes to working hours to support social distancing.

A member of staff has advised that their Internet has stopped working and they are unable to use VPN. What should they do?

The member of staff should inform their line manager of this in the first instance. Discussions should then take place, regarding how long the Internet may be unavailable for, whether there is any work that can be completed offline and whether the member of staff is able to make up the missed hours at another time. If none of these options are available, the time can either be taken as annual leave or unpaid leave.

Should 1:1 meetings still be held with staff?

It is important that regular communication is maintained with staff while they are working from home, including 1:1’s.

1:1’s can be held via video or telephone. 1:1’s could also be held on-site if there is a space that will enable social distancing to be maintained and it is practical and reasonable to do so (i.e. the member of staff is not shielding).

Does a member of staff have to join in using video for online meetings?

If a member of staff is refusing to join in with video meetings it is recommended that the manager has a discussion with them. This discussion should cover what the member of staff has concerns with, whether there are alternatives – e.g. joining with just audio or by phone – and discuss the purpose of the meeting with them. This conversation should ensure that the staff member understands why their participation is required and the importance of them participating in the meeting.

If a member of staff is working from home should they complete the DSE assessment?

Yes, all staff who are working from home should complete the following:

  • Homeworking self-assessment form
  • Homeworking checklist
  • Homeworking individual risk assessment
  • DSE online training via Moodle (must have been completed within the last 12 months)

All assessments and checklists should be returned to the staff member's line manager for review.

What should a staff member do if they are experiencing pain or discomfort while working from home?

If staff are experiencing any pain or discomfort while working at home, they must discuss this with their line manager.

Staff will need to complete a homeworking DSE assessment in the first instance and discussions may then be held with Ergonomics/Occupational Health.

Can a member of staff claim for any costs for electricity or gas when working from home?

Homeworking is a flexible option available to staff, and is therefore taken up as a choice by the member of staff as an alternative to working on-site some or all of the time. By reducing time on-site, the member of staff also gains reduced commuting costs. For these reasons, the Trust will not make payments for any expenses occurred as a result of working from home.

However, staff may be able to claim tax relief for some of their bills if working from home on a regular or permanent basis. Such claims would be for work-related costs such as the cost of extra energy used or business telephone calls. Staff cannot claim for expenses where the cost incurred is for both private and homeworking use, such as broadband costs or home rent.

The Trust does not provide advice on personal tax relief claims, and staff should check the GOV.UK website to assess their own eligibility and to make a claim where relevant.

How can VPN be set up to enable a member of staff to work from home?

Any requests for VPN should be submitted via the IT portal. All requests must be discussed with management in the first instance, then the relevant manager must grant approval.

How can a member of staff access VPN when working from home?

Staff should note that there are two ways to access VPN with a UHB login. Staff can either access their desktop through Pulse or Citrix.

Staff will need to ensure that they have set up their "hotpin" app using the IT guidance before accessing either website.

Does a member of staff need a Trust laptop to work from home?

A member of staff can use a Trust laptop for homeworking if they have been provided with one, or they may use their own computer.

How can a laptop be requested for a member of staff?

Any requests for equipment need to be submitted via the IT portal. All requests must be discussed with management in the first instance, then the relevant manager must grant approval.

Can a member of staff claim back costs of phone calls if they are using their personal mobile to make work calls?

A member of staff should not incur expenses relating to telephone calls made for work purposes while working from home.

The homeworker will therefore need to use a Trust mobile where one has already been provided, or request for one to be provided if relevant to the role.

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