The issues surrounding ‘work from anywhere’ policies
Our employment specialists look at how companies should deal with employee requests to jet off while still logged on.
With flexible, remote and hybrid working now the norm within many UK companies, the concept of ‘work from anywhere’ has begun to take off, with employers fielding increasing requests from workers who want to pack up their laptop and log on from a tropical beach or a new bustling city.
The latest statistics from the Office of National Statistics, published in February, show that 44% of working adults reported either working from home only or hybrid working, a system many employers and their staff are now familiar and comfortable with.
This shift in working culture has shown the need for businesses to have in place a clear policy for all models of working in order to protect both the business and the individual, including for the latest jet setting trend in working without using any annual leave.
Having an employee work for a company in one country whilst being based in another can actually have a significant impact on a business and there are many things for UK-based employers to consider in order to ensure the business is protected together with providing transparency for all parties.
It will not just be about the practical issues of IT connections and time differences or even the nuanced decisions for the business, such as whether the employee in question can be trusted to complete tasks when thousands of miles from a manager. Other issues include those around employment rights, tax, financial consequences, health and safety, IT security and data protection concerns.
An employer can face legal issues where work activity spans a longer period of time or where the usual place of work shifts. The provisions of the foreign law where the employee is working may apply and may even be more favourable of a legal position than here in the UK – so employers should go into matters with their eyes open. The employee may be protected and acquire these legal protections, such as in relation to holiday, pay levels and rights on termination and more. Whether the employee has the right to work in their chosen destination will also need to be considered; for example, will they need a residence or work permit? The employer will need to assess such risks and implications on a case by case basis, considering the destination country and any other key information that may assist. No ‘one solution fits all’, so do seek advice.
Getting these rules and procedures in place can take a little time and management but it could be worth it in terms of employee satisfaction and getting the best out of your workforce, whilst offering flexibility, so it’s definitely something to consider in the right circumstances.