Are employers liable for hybrid working employees?

Are employers liable for hybrid working employees?

The events of the past few years have resulted in many employers promoting a home or hybrid working approach. With employees working from home more regularly it raises the question – who is liable for damage to company equipment and employee health and safety?

As an employer, you have a legal obligation to ensure the health and safety of remote working employees. Employers liability insurance should cover accidents and injuries at home in most cases, but you risk invalidating your policy if you fail to undertake the appropriate risk management.

To ensure you comply with HR and employment law, it’s imperative that you inform your insurance provider if you offer flexible working and fulfil your risk management obligations. Without adequate cover for remote working arrangements, an employee could make a claim if they have an accident at home and you may even face prosecution.

We’ll answer more of your FAQs about employer liability for home and hybrid workers in this short blog, but if you require more advice, please get in touch with the team at Glowsure.

What instances would an employer be liable for hybrid working arrangements?

Your legal obligations for employee safety remain the same if your employees are working remotely from home, either on a hybrid or full-time basis.

UK health and safety legislation states that employers must provide a safe working environment for employees. For desk-bound staff, this includes a thorough DSE workstation assessment to cover risk factors such as lighting, furniture, electrical equipment and data protection. Checks should be undertaken on a regular basis and adjustments made accordingly.

If it is not possible to conduct a physical workstation assessment, then you must ensure that you provide adequate guidance to your employee on health and safety at home.

Working remotely can be isolating, so you also have a duty of care to ensure that employees take adequate breaks, to avoid mental wellbeing issues.

It’s imperative that you check your commercial insurance extends to hybrid working and under what terms. It could be that employees are only covered for certain activities, ie. clerical duties. Be very clear on who is liable under what circumstances and update employment contracts if necessary with details of the altered working arrangements.

Remember – regardless of whether your employees are office-based or work from home on an occasional or permanent basis, any failings on your part under employment law could render your business insurance invalid.

Is equipment covered for employees when they’re remote working?

If you have provided business equipment for your employee to use at home, eg. laptops, keyboards, furniture, phones, then it should be covered by your company insurance for accidental damage. You are not liable for damage to employee-owned equipment.

Should the damage be down to employee error or neglect, then it may be the case that the employee is liable. Ensure that they understand this is a possibility and update their home contents insurance accordingly.

Do I need to tell my commercial insurance provider that I offer flexible working?

Absolutely. Insurers are becoming more open-minded with regards to hybrid working arrangements, but they should be informed of changes to working patterns so that they can re-assess the risk from a health and safety perspective.

Can employees claim for accidents when hybrid working?

Employees have a responsibility to take reasonable care for their health and safety while home or hybrid working. If an accident is caused by neglect on their part, it is very unlikely they could make a successful claim against their employer.

However, if an accident occurs due to a safety failing on the employer’s part, then the employee could make a valid claim.

Sometimes, accidents happen regardless of whether the steps have been taken. If your employee should suffer injury at home during working hours, employers liability insurance should cover it, as long as you’ve met your health and safety obligations.

What types of business insurance do you need for hybrid working?

Technically, you shouldn’t require any further business insurance for hybrid working than you would for office space working. It is a matter of checking the terms of your insurance to ensure you have adequate cover for home workers.

As standard, Glowsure recommends the following commercial insurance for limited companies.

Business equipment insurance – this provides protection for damage or loss to property and equipment owned by the business and should extend to home working.

Public liability cover – this provides protection from claims made against your business by an external party for any incident or injury. This covers home workers to some extent, but it depends on the small print of your policy. For example, if your employee is expected to host face-to-face client meetings at home, it should be stated in your policy otherwise any claim may be deemed invalid.

Professional indemnity (PI) insurance – this provides cover if a customer claims that your company has been negligent, made a mistake or given them misinformation. It also covers breaches of copyright and defamation.

Cyber and data risk insurance cover – should your company be subject to a cyber attack, this will cover the associated costs. It may also cover human error and data breaches. This is particularly important in the context of flexible working where the digital risk is higher. You must take adequate steps to ensure your company data is protected outside of your premises, or your insurer may refuse any claim you make.

Get the right business insurance for hybrid working with Glowsure

If your business offers hybrid working, don’t put it at risk from inadequate insurance. Talk to the team at Glowsure to make sure your company is protected. We can provide independent advice on what cover you need and can search the market for the most suitable deal on your behalf.

Contact us today for more advice and to get a quote on insurance tailored to your needs.

FAQs

Do employers have to approve hybrid working by law?

Any employee with 26 weeks continued service is entitled to request flexible working. The company can only refuse a request on reasonable business grounds, eg. the cost is prohibitive or quality/performance will be compromised.

What incidents are covered by employer’s insurance for home workers?

It’s not always easy to work out if an injury or illness was caused in the course of an employee’s work. However, if the injury or illness is sustained because of the structural aspects of an employee’s home, the employer may not be liable, eg. fire evacuation routes and ventilation.

Wesley Haynes
Wesley Haynes
Wesley is the Director at Glowsure Insurance Brokers. He's passionate about giving the best customer service he can, and this is at the core of everything at Glowsure.
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