Ask the Experts

Can I force employees to return to the office?

The current government advice is that most people should keep working from home until the final restrictions are removed, the date in which this will happen is currently uncertain. If you require your employees to return to the office, you must have a Covid risk assessment in place and you must treat staff fairly and reasonably and listen to any concerns they may have. If employees do not have a valid reason as to why they cannot work from the office, there is the option to use your disciplinary policy. This must be used with caution, and you should contact your HR support for assistance where necessary. You must also take steps to reduce transmission in the office such as frequent cleaning,, one- way systems, minimising unnecessary visitors and provide extra hand washing facilities. These processes will help employees to feel safer when re-entering the office environment.

Do I need a new contract if employees are hybrid working?

It depends what is written in their contract currently, it may be that you amend their current contract to reflect their new way of working. You can specify which days they are required to work in the office and which days they are required to work from home, but that these days may be subject to change – in order to give you flexibility. Another thing to note would be the creation of a home-working agreement which would specify what is expected of the employee and what conditions have been put in place. It should also include information on what equipment they are required to use as well as safeguards that need to be put in place and the practical arrangements that make homeworking a success.