At Thompson’s we would like to reassure all our clients that as far as possible we are operating as normal. The health and safety of our staff and clients is our primary concern during this outbreak and as such we are reviewing the situation on a regular basis and will be adapting our working practices following government guidelines. However, we have had to make some minor changes to how we are doing things.

Following Government guidelines, we have temporarily closed all of our offices and our staff are now all working from home using secure technologies to ensure they are able to continue to progress with existing and new cases as normal. All face to face meetings have been cancelled, however we are continuing to hold these meetings via phone and video calls. All the team are contactable on their direct dial numbers and email should you need to speak with your solicitor, please do not hesitate to talk to us about anything during this time.

We know these are uncertain and unsettling times for many of our clients, and the wider population, and things might look a little different for the foreseeable future. But our focus remains on our dedication, knowledge and strength that we provide to all our clients. We will continue to provide updates over the coming days and weeks in accordance with official guidelines and to keep everyone informed of the situation.

As always, for any concerns, advice and updates on your case; Talk to Thompsons.

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Thompsons Solicitors Scotland
Thompsons Solicitors Scotland

The past year has led to a significant rise in employees working from home. Whilst businesses and workers have adapted to this challenging change of scenery, it is important to keep in mind the duties owed by employers to their employees. Where an employee may now be working from home, the health and safety responsibilities incumbent on the employer remain unchanged. 

Working with DSE – Display Screen Equipment

As would be expected to be conducted in any typical office workplace, employers should mitigate the risks associated with using display screen equipment for workers at home. This includes PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones.

Employers must conduct a display screen equipment assessment to ensure the workstation of each employee is appropriate. Employers should additionally look to reduce risks and encourage regular breaks from display screen equipment. Furthermore employers must provide eye tests for employees and provide training and information for workers. There is no distinction in the law between those at a fixed workstation or home workers.

By conducting DSE assessments, employers can effectively reduce the risks from DSE work. Published guidance by the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors[1] and the Health and Safety Executive[2] have both published guidance used to inform employers on their duties to implement these assessments.   

It is essential that employers regularly consider the appropriateness of their employees display screen equipment and workstation, be this in an office or home setting. Where employees report aches, pains or discomfort, or working long hours without adequate rest, employers should have consideration for whether additional steps within their work set up are needed to alleviate the employee’s issues.

Where an employee is working from home on a temporary basis, it will not be required to conduct a full DSE assessment. This is due to there being no increased risk in using DSE for those working at home temporarily.

Lone Working without Supervision

Given the remoteness involved in working from home, there are increased risks for employees with no direct supervision to assist if issues arise. Employers should ensure regular contact with lone workers to protect against feelings of disconnection, isolation or abandonment, which in turn can lead to marked stress levels and deterioration in mental health.

The same responsibilities towards supervision, education and training owed by the employer to the employee remain unchanged. This extends to the employer implementing enough control measures to protect their employees working at home.

Stress and Mental Health

As touched on, the very nature of working from home and associated isolation, can lead to the deterioration in an employee’s mental health. The absence of a supervisor or manager being immediately available may make it difficult for employees to get proper support.

Employers should ensure the implementation of procedures to enable direct contact with the home worker so their manager is able to effectively identify whether the worker is showing signs of stress. The Health and Safety Executive Stress Management Standards[3] notes the importance of workplace relationships and support of other workers.

It is important that employees raise concerns regarding increased stress to their manager at an early stage. If the stress is work bound, then speaking with a manger will allow them the opportunity to help and prevent the situation deteriorating. If the situation is extraneous to work, it is important to still address this with your manager in order that they understand your present situation.

Employers have a duty of care to protect the health, safety and welfare of all employees at work. This duty extends to include the assessment of risks arising from hazards at work, including work-related stress.

Blog by Conor Kenny, Solicitor





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