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Your rights on working from home explained – can your boss refuse a request?


WORKING from home could soon become the norm again, according to a leading expert.

Here’s what you need to know about your work from home rights.

Working from home is much less common than this time last year - but could become the norm again

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Working from home is much less common than this time last year – but could become the norm againCredit: Getty

People have already been told to work from home where possible in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

In England, however, the government’s Working Safely guidelines advise a “gradual return to offices and workplaces”.

Since July 19, the government’s temporary work from home order has been suspended.

Employers are now obliged to carry out workplace risk assessments, including against Covid.

What can I do if I feel unsafe at work?

If you feel your place of work isn’t Covid-secure and you’d prefer to work from home, you have two main options.

The first is launching a flexible work request.

That’s a formal ask for home or hybrid working, which you can make if you’ve been at your current employer for more than six months.

However, your employer is under no obligation to grant that wish.

They have three months to think about it, there’s no right of appeal AND you’re only allowed to make one each year.

The second and more immediate option is to have an informal conversation, according to Carolyn Brown, head of legal services at law firm RSM UK.

She told The Sun: “The most sensible thing to do is raise your concerns with your employer and try to find a solution.

“Employers don’t want their staff to become ill.”

Make sure you let them know what physical and/or mental health conditions are affecting your decision, she added.

Failing that, you can also take your boss to an employment tribunal.

But, Brown added: “This is a lengthy, after-the-fact process which won’t solve your immediate issue.”

Consumer charity Citizens Advice also recommends you be as clear as possible about the changes you want.

They add: “Your employer might consider requests in the order in which they receive them, so it might help you to make your request as soon as you can.”

Are the rules set to change?

As the Omicron variant spreads and the government’s feared ‘Plan B’ restrictions are mulled, working from home could soon become the norm again.

Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter told the Today programme earlier: “We know that being in unventilated rooms fairly close together ups the risk a lot.

“That’s why working from home [is] very important.”

Politicians have also considered changing the rules on flexible working to better suit people who want to work from home without a specific health reason.

The government’s consultation on flexible working closed yesterday, with new recommendations expected in the new year.

We’ve reported health secretary Sajid Javid’s insistence that the government is “nowhere near” re-imposing work from home orders.

New legislation could also allow workers to make flexible work requests from their first day in a new job.

And we’ve explained how you can claim £500 if you’re forced to self-isolate with Omicron.

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