Unless there is a written term in your contract of employment permitting your employer to make you work from home, your employer needs your agreement.
You may be able to negotiate improvements to your pay, hours or other terms in return for your agreement. Your employer will be saving significant costs by arranging for home-based working. Speak to your union rep if you have one. If you are not the only worker affected in this way, your union should be able to negotiate the terms of a collective agreement or policy to help ensure a smooth transition.
If you withhold your agreement, your employer will have to consult carefully with you, but be aware that if your employer has a good business reason for wanting to switch to a home-working model, then as long as they consult properly, your continued refusal could lead to your fair dismissal. You may qualify for a redundancy payment. Speak to your union rep.
As a home-based employee, you are entitled to the same contractual and statutory rights and benefits, including the same rights to be kept informed and consulted, as any employee working at the employer's premises.
You would be entitled to reimbursement of expenses necessarily incurred during the course of your employment. Examples of these might include:
- telephone charges;
- structural conversion costs; and
- cost of materials, e.g. stationery and IT equipment.
Before agreeing to work from home, you need to think carefully about all the implications of the changes and discuss the issues with someone experienced in the associated pressures. In particular, you need to make sure that working at home, without the company of work colleagues or the structure of a day spent in the workplace, is right for you.
You also need to make sure that you design your day to ensure that you take regular breaks to protect your mental health and to avoid any risk of repetitive strain injury.
Seek advice or information from a union rep if you have one.
Consider what arrangements can be put in place to help you maintain contact with your office-based and fellow home-working colleagues.
There might also be capital gains taxation implications if part of the house was converted for occupational use. The regulations are complex and further advice can be sought from your local tax office.