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Working from home during COVID-19

In line with the Government announcement on 16 November 2021, you should revert to working from home unless it is necessary to attend the workplace in person. This means a return to the situation on working from home as it applied before 20 September 2021. Your manager will decide whether it is necessary for you to attend the work premises.

COVID-19 infection rates are increasing along with hospitalisation and ICU admissions. Working from home, where possible, is a key measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace and to lessen the demands on our health services.

Health service managers are required to determine which roles require physical attendance by staff at the workplace based on service needs.

Health service managers should facilitate working from home arrangements for employees whose roles can be done remotely.

Working from home arrangements put in place due to COVID-19 are temporary and will be kept under review.

Employees whose roles require on-site attendance

Health service managers must implement robust return to work procedures that comply with the Work Safely Protocol for employees attending onsite.

Working from home due to COVID-19 and Special Leave with Pay for COVID-19 - self-referral for COVID-19 test (HR Circular 038/2021)

Work From Home Policy

Policy for public health service employees working from home temporarily during COVID-19, as set out by National HR.

The purpose of this policy is to:

  • support the health and wellbeing of health service employees working from home
  • ensure effective performance management and employee engagement
  • ensure that all employees are following good practice when working from home
  • support the effective delivery of high-quality services

An overview of the policy is provided below. Refer to the policy for full details and support resources.

See: Policy on Public Health Service Employees Working from Home during COVID-19

Role of line managers

As a manager, you should:

  • maintain close and regular contact with your employees to maximise engagement at an individual and team level and seek to offer support as and when required
  • hold regular online team meetings to share updates, work plans and support employees
  • assign duties in the normal manner, setting clear priorities and expectations
  • flexibility around work times (for example, to accommodate caring responsibilities)
  • hold frequent one-to-one conversations to discuss outputs, progress and development options
  • empower and trust employees to get on with their work whilst providing support and guidance
  • encourage a healthy routine and work-life balance
  • provide feedback on work performance and address issues as they arise
  • ensure employees have access to the relevant tools to perform their jobs
  • review individual learning needs in light of remote working and job requirements
  • look after the health and wellbeing of employees, keeping a look out for any signs of anxiety or distress. Remind employees of existing health and wellbeing supports within the organisation including online supports
  • to ensure the safety, health and welfare of your employees at work

Role of employees

As an employee, you should:

  • ensure, so far as is possible, that you maintain a safe environment while working from home
  • take part in meetings as required and remain contactable during working hours
  • be productive in your work
  • adhere to the organisation’s policies and procedures in the normal manner
  • notify your line manager if you are at risk and have specific workspace concerns
  • co-operate with work priorities and timelines and request support if required
  • follow arrangements for recording working hours and rest breaks
  • if you are unable to work on any day, inform your line manager, following normal procedure

Health and wellbeing

Employees’ health and wellbeing is paramount, particularly throughout the pandemic. Line managers should be aware of issues that may impact employees at present, providing information on available supports.

Health, safety and welfare at work

Employers have a duty to ensure the safety, health and welfare of their employees at work. This includes those who are working from home, so far as is possible.

This involves:

  • the completion of risk assessments
  • the provision of supervision, education and training
  • implementing control measures to protect employees

As a manager, your responsibilities include:

  • managing and conducting all work activities to ensure, so far as practicable, the safety, health and welfare of employees
  • assessing risks and implementing appropriate control measures
  • providing safe systems of work that are, planned, organised, and maintained
  • providing safe equipment including personal protective equipment, where necessary
  • providing information, instruction, training and supervision about safety and health to employees
  • having plans in place for emergencies

As an employee, your responsibilities include:

  • cooperating with your manager and following their instructions
  • protecting yourself and others from harm during the course of your work, for example taking care of work equipment and reporting any defects immediately to your manager
  • reporting any injury arising from work activity to your line manager
  • following procedures put in place by your manager

Induction for new employees while working from home

Starting a new job while working from home could be challenging for new employees.

It is important to have an induction process that meets the employee’s requirements. This will help them to carry out their work to the required standard. This should also be considered for existing employees who start a new role in the organisation.

Managers at all levels should:

  • ensure new employees have the necessary equipment and system access
  • use video conferencing, where possible, to introduce new employees to their colleagues
  • give new employees the opportunity to attend team meetings as soon as possible
  • be creative to help the delivery of training/information that would usually be provided in person
  • set objectives and carry out the probationary process in the normal manner
  • schedule regular virtual meetings with new employees
  • encourage team colleagues to engage with the new member of the team
  • inform new employees of upcoming online social and networking opportunities arranged by the organisation

Terms and conditions

During this temporary arrangement of working from home, your contracted terms and conditions of employment remain the same.

Flexi-time arrangements do not apply when you are working from home during COVID-19. All leave entitlements and sick leave arrangements remain the same.

Security and confidentiality

When working from home, you are responsible for the security of devices issued to you and information stored on devices. This also applies if you have been enabled to work from home using your own device.

Related Content

Page last reviewed: 25/08/2020
Next review due: 25/08/2023