Working from home is becoming increasingly popular. With advances in technology and cloud based systems, many jobs include elements of working from home, or are solely based from home. Employers know that flexible working is high up on the list of benefits other than salary, which drives applications and retains happy employees.
Unfortunately, 2020 has been struck with the Coronavirus or COVID-19 meaning that ways of working and socialising have been amended to comply with government regulations. This has resulted in many self isolating, and employers asking workers to log on remotely in order to avoid unnecessary contact with others.
While time away from the office comes with its benefits, many are left asking ‘what expenses can I claim working from home?
While it’s not exactly obvious what an employer is obliged to offer you to enable setting up a work office space, there are some guidance that can help steer you.
If you are self employed, or work for a limited company, there are certain tax reliefs for items you need to set out your working space. For example those who are self employed can only claim for things to do with their work, for example, business telephone calls or the extra cost of gas and electricity for the dedicated work at home area. It isn’t possible to claim however, for items that you use for both private and business use, for example, rent or broadband access. More information on that can be found here.
To help determine what you may or may not be entitled to if you work from home, it’s worth knowing what ‘homeworking’ is actually defined as. Acas, public body advisory states that
working from home or Homeworking or tele-commuting can cover a variety of arrangements:
- Working entirely at home apart from attending regular or occasional meeting at the office or with customers
- Time split between office and home or with customers - for example, two days in the office and three days at home or with customers
- Some staff may prefer to work in the office and work from home only occasionally
Homeworking, remote working or working from home is a type of flexible working which, depending on the agreement between employer and employee, can be also used in conjunction with other arrangements such as flexible hours, working part-time, term-time working or the employer's core hours.
However, homeworking and other forms of flexible working do not have to be used together. For example, your employer can stipulate that if you work from home, you work the same working pattern as office-based staff.
what expenses can I claim working from home?
Phil Flaxton, of Work Wise UK, a not-for-profit which aims to promote smarter working practices, recently spoke to the Guardian about working from home policies and what employees are entitled to. He says there are no hard and fast rules over who should pay for what. “It comes down to the individual organisation and the nature of working from home. There will be people contracted to work from home all the time, people who work one day a week at home, people who take the odd day every month and so on. A lot of it will come down to the size of the organisation: if you employ five people rather than 500, the dynamics are very different.”
Depending on your company and manager, some things may be able to be expensed. In light of the Coronavirus outbreak, some employers are taking extra measure to ensure that their workforce are able to carry out their role as normal, from home.
working from home sick pay.
If you work from home, you are entitled to sick pay, the same as office based employees. Apart from the change in to the place of work - for example if you worked in an office, and due to a change in role, or for example government enforcements in light of the Coronavirus outbreak, your terms and conditions will, in most cases remain the same.
Due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak however, the government recently made announcements relating to statutory sick pay (SSP). Those affected by coronavirus and those who are self-isolating are entitled to statutory sick pay.
employer duty of care.
No matter where you work, if that’s in the office, or from home or working remotely, a duty of care applies to you. The Health and Safety Executive states that
“As an employer, you have the same health and safety responsibilities for home workers as for any other workers.
When someone is working from home temporarily, as an employer you should consider:
- How will you keep in touch with them?
- What work activity will they be doing?
- Can it be done safely?
- Do you need to put control measures in place to protect them?”
what should my employer provide me with to work remotely?
In most cases, you are entitled to a work computer, and in some cases where internet calling isn’t accessible through said computer/laptop, a work phone.
It is not advisable to use your personal computer/laptop to carry out your work. By using a dedicated work machine, this reduces the risk of a data security breach and limits the employer's exposure to the provisions of the General Data Protection Regulations.
If you’re enjoying working from home and have adjusted to new ways of working, browse the latest jobs which allow you to work from home here.