I work from home. Who is responsible for health and safety in my home?

The employer is responsible for the protection of the occupational health and safety of staff who work from home as well as office-based workers. This duty cannot be delegated to the worker, even though your employer is not in your home and cannot control what goes on there. 

Employers must carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment of all the work activities you do at home. You can carry this out yourself, but the responsibility remains with the employer. Normally, the two parties work together, with some kind of agreed checking and review mechanism.  

All assessments need to identify the hazards that are present, to assess the extent of the risks and make decisions on how to manage such risks, so far as is reasonably practicable, to comply with health and safety law. Risk assessments relating to new or expectant mothers must also take account of risks to the child. 

The employer’s safety duty extends to mental health, including the risks of isolation, overwork, or failure to take proper breaks. A study by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Working anytime anywhere, the effects on the world of work, has found that working remotely can lead to insomnia and raised levels of stress. 

Employees have a duty to take reasonable care of their own health and safety and that of others who may be affected by what they do or don’t do, and to report all employment-related hazards. For homeworkers, the other people who may be affected are likely to include other family members, neighbours, visitors and so on. 

Employees must cooperate with employers on health and safety, which includes using work items and equipment correctly. 

The employer should inform the homeworker of the company's policy on occupational health and safety. The homeworker then has a responsibility to apply these safety policies correctly. 

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.

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