Must employers provide equipment for employees who work from home?
While there is no specific duty on employers to provide equipment for employees working from home, they should ensure that employees have everything they need to be able to work safely and effectively. Where the employer requires employees to work from home, it should provide the equipment or agree to reimburse employees for the cost of suitable equipment. Where the employer allows, rather than requires, an employee to work from home for some of the time (for example under a discretionary hybrid working arrangement), it should agree with them who will be responsible for providing the equipment.
Employers have a specific duty in relation to the use of display screen equipment, in addition to the general duty to ensure employees' health and safety. The employer must arrange a risk assessment to ensure that the employee has an appropriate workstation, including the desk, chair, keyboard and screen. Employers are required to take steps to reduce the risks to the lowest extent reasonably practicable, which could include the provision of equipment for the employee to use at home.
The equipment required for a hybrid worker may depend on their working pattern. For example, an employee who works from home only on one day a week may not need the same equipment as if they worked at home on four days. However, this will depend on the impact on the specific individual's health and wellbeing, and on their ability to carry out the work effectively.
Employers must comply with their duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled employees. If a hybrid worker has special equipment such as an ergonomic chair at the workplace, it is likely that they will need equivalent equipment at home. Where this is a reasonable adjustment, the employer is required to pay for this equipment.
In addition to considering employee's health and safety and work efficiency, employers must provide any equipment required to ensure appropriate data security. For example, an employee who handles hard-copy paperwork at home may require a filing cabinet and shredder.