In recent years more and more businesses have realized the advantages of allowing their employees to work from home. But it’s important to understand the impacts such an arrangement can have on your business insurance.
Rapid advances in video conferencing and other technologies now enable employers to reduce expenditure on office space and travel expenses without any loss of productivity. At the same time, staff who are relieved from the stress and fatigue of long daily commutes are likely to produce more work of higher quality and to feel more valued for what they do.
So this was a trend that was gathering momentum even before the coronavirus pandemic produced a sudden and dramatic increase in the number of home workers.
But whether your staff is working from home through your choice, or because of a state or federal government order, there are certain insurance implications for your business of which you need to be aware.
Work from Home Health and Safety Responsibilities
Having staff working from home does not absolve you from the ordinary duties of care that you owe them. And it may well also expose you to significant additional risks.
It is your duty as an employer to provide your employees with a safe place of work. It will probably not be practical for you to visit each and every employee’s home. But you should, at a minimum, ensure that all home workers are aware of your health and safety at work policy, and require them to provide you with written confirmation of their compliance.
It’s also worth reinforcing the stay at home instructions issued by state governments – making it clear that your employees have a duty to take reasonable steps to keep themselves and others healthy by practicing social distancing and frequent handwashing etc.
This is also a good time to review your worker’s compensation policy.
Care of Office Equipment
A home worker’s own home insurance is unlikely to cover the theft, loss, or damage of any equipment, such as laptops, provided by you for the purposes of their work. You, therefore, need to check the cover provided by your business insurance and take immediate steps to remedy any gaps.
Data Protection and Confidentiality
Your liability for any breach of customer or client confidentiality is not reduced because your employees are not physically present on your premises. And there are obvious increased risks both in allowing employees remote access to your networks and to take home paper files or documents.
Your insurer will expect you to take all reasonable steps to mitigate these risks and to be able to produce evidence that you have done so. One good way to do this is to produce a formal “working at home” policy, to which all relevant staff must assent. The policy should include detailed protocols to be followed for the protection of confidential data.
Equality of Opportunity
Depending on the nature of your business, you may have some employees whose duties cannot be carried on from home. And it’s important that they should not be placed at any disadvantage by being required to attend as usual.
So, for the avoidance of any future internal employment disputes, it’s a good idea for your work from home policy to set out exactly what you expect from your home workers in terms of hours to be worked, breaks and productivity targets, etc.
Moreover, from the point of view of your employment practices insurance, it’s essential that everyone who can work from home is offered the opportunity without discrimination on the grounds of race, gender, age, or disability.
Get Expert Work from Home Advice
Working from home is just one of a wide range of complex and sometimes unprecedented issues that the sudden advent of Covid-19 has produced for businesses. So it’s now more than ever essential to conduct a thorough review of your insurances and work from home practices to make sure that you are protected to the maximum extent possible.
At Brashears Insurance, we have enormous experience in helping provide businesses of all types and sizes with the individually tailored solutions they need. And we’ll be delighted to put our expertise to work on your behalf.
So if you’d like to learn more about the potential implications of home working for your business why not call us today on 805-564-7645 or send us a message here.