The Office for National Statistics reports that 13.9 per cent of UK workers carry out their jobs remotely. That translates as 4.2 million people, and it is a figure that is on the rise.
As an employer offering remote working, you will enjoy numerous benefits, but there are a lot of considerations to take into account, from data protection and insurance to health and safety.
Any loss of data through a breach of security, theft or malicious attack can be deemed a breach of the Data Protection Act.
With remote workers, it can be difficult to lock down the security of your data. You will no doubt be using a cloud based network, which will need to be carefully set up and meticulously monitored to ensure its security. Of course, privacy laws will need to be considered as part of this monitoring.
One question that regularly arises is what degree of control you allow your worker when it comes to setting up and using technology. For example, would you prefer things like email set up, security settings, software configuration and device locking to be left to the member of staff, or controlled by your IT department? The latter would tend to be the safer option of course, but may mean more pressure for IT personnel.
It is a good idea to pay a visit to your remote workers’ premises so you can run an audit on security measures and if necessary, make any recommendations for improvements. You’ll want to ensure physical work related articles are protected against flood or fire and of course, theft. Ideally any paperwork containing sensitive data should be kept locked away, as should any devices used to store data, such as tablets, laptops or portable drives.
It is good practice to issue written guidelines to your workers setting out rules such as storing anything sensitive in an insurance graded safe overnight or whilst not in use, and keeping paperwork in a locked, fire-resistant filing cabinet.
Health & Safety
Regardless of where they work, you are responsible for the health and safety of your employees.
If your staff work at a desk using display screen equipment (DSE) then you will need to comply with The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992. These regulations stipulate that if you have provided the workstation, then you must make sure that it meets minimum requirements, and you must carry out a risk assessment. If you did not provide the workstation, then you are still required to issue advice on the safe use of any equipment and safe working practice.
If you are in any doubt over your duties as an employer of remote workers, why not have a chat with your bookkeepers? They’ll be able to inform you of the steps to take, and put you in touch with any other professional for advice on the law, security and insurance.