Home-working Policy

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Comment This policy was adopted by the Board on 11 February 2012 and reviewed and updated by the Chief Executive in June 2016. It is part of a series of Staff Policies.

Introduction

Wikimedia UK strives to be a flexible employer, with work practices that serve its business needs and accommodate the needs of its employees.

This policy sets out the mutual rights and responsibilities of Wikimedia UK and the home worker.

Please note that this policy was updated in January 2021, in consultation with the staff team, to more accurately and comprehensively reflect the range of home working situations experienced by staff members. This policy revision has not been formally approved by the board of trustees and neither has it been subject to community consultation, but is a working document. It is anticipated that a more substantive review of office based and remote working at Wikimedia UK will be undertaken in the Spring and Summer of 2021, and that this policy will be further revised at that point.

Home working with Wikimedia UK

There are various circumstances in which a Wikimedia UK employee may work from home. These include:

  • Posts which require the jobholder to be based somewhere not in commutable distance from from the head office base (currently in London) for most of their working hours; for example, staff working in specific geographic areas or nations such as Scotland and Wales. Home working is therefore likely to be a standard condition for these roles.
  • Posts which are generally based within the head office but where staff may be eligible to work on an occasional basis from home by prior agreement with the Chief Executive. These days may be fixed in advance as part of an agreed working pattern, or taken on an ad-hoc basis in accordance with this policy.
  • Circumstances which require all staff to work remotely; for example, if there are health risks associated with travelling to and working in/from the office.

This policy has been written to comply with Wikimedia UK’s statutory obligations under the following legislation:

  • Health & Safety at Work Act (1974)
  • Data Protection Act (1998)
  • Working Time Regulations (1998)
  • Equalities Act (2010)

Principles of home working at Wikimedia UK

Business needs

Any working practice adopted must serve Wikimedia UK’s business needs as defined locally.

Home working is recognised to have the possibility of increasing productivity, raising morale, reducing sickness and absence. Home working can also enable Wikimedia UK to recruit from a wider range of potential employees, and provides an opportunity to keep down the costs of office space, thus reducing our overall costs and expenditure.

Terms and conditions of employment

In all respects other than provided for by this policy, home working staff will retain the same terms and conditions of employment as office-based staff.

Home workers must be available for work duties during their normal hours of work (as agreed with the Chief Executive). Therefore, any domestic arrangements such as ensuring that childcare is available if required must remain in place during hours of work. There are occasional exceptions to this, including the closure of schools, for which special arrangements will be agreed.

Reasonable adjustments

In accordance with our obligations under the Equalities Act 2010, Wikimedia UK will consider requests for home working arrangements from disabled employees or prospective employees, if this constitutes a reasonable adjustment.

Space provision and health and safety risk assessment

All Wikimedia UK staff working from home - regardless of whether this is a condition of the post, a negotiated benefit, or a requirement for health and safety reasons - need to have a suitable place from which to work. Ideally this should be an area which allows the home worker:

  • to generally work free of domestic or other interruptions
  • to deal with telephone calls in a confidential manner in a quiet environment

Wikimedia UK recognises that it is not always possible to meet these conditions, particularly for roles which are usually considered to be office-based but where occasional or sometimes short notice home working arrangements are necessary. Where this is the case, line managers will discuss with affected staff what their options are for ensuring an adequate space from which to work from home.  

The area allocated to work should be adequate in terms of space to accommodate a desk or table, chair, and a computer (PC or laptop). Where necessary for the role, a secure storage area will also be required.

All intended home workspaces will be subject to a health and safety risk assessment. The assessment will include identification of hazards and risks, of who could be harmed and how, and of what action should be taken in the event of accidents. The assessments will generally be made by staff themselves, with appropriate support, and should be carried out prior to the home location becoming the workplace. Thereafter a yearly self-assessment must be made, and a re-assessment must take place following any significant changes to the work environment.

If a proposed working location is found to be unsuitable, and modification to reach the necessary standard are not practical/cost effective, then, upholding its duty of care to the employee, the employee will not be permitted to work from that location.

Equipment

Staff who work from home may agree with their line manager to use their own personal computer and/or other equipment for work purposes, provided it complies with Wikimedia UK’s hardware and software requirements. However, wherever possible, Wikimedia UK’s equipment and software will be used.

A member of staff using their own PC for home working purposes must keep all of the work for Wikimedia UK in one area of the hard disk and restrict access to that area to him/herself only, or on removable media disks which are locked away after use or on a secure cloud platform. Wikimedia UK does not make a commitment to maintain personal IT equipment used for work purposes. However, if there is heavy use of a piece of equipment on Wikimedia UK’s business, at the discretion of the Chief Executive, Wikimedia UK may negotiate with the staff member a reasonable contribution towards the cost of repair and maintenance.

Where personal IT equipment does not comply with Wikimedia UK’s standards or staff do not have the IT equipment necessary for home working, Wikimedia UK will provide (lend) equipment and peripherals appropriate to the job to the home worker and will support and modify the equipment as necessary. The scope of this provision will be at the discretion of Wikimedia UK, agreed at the start of the arrangement, and its appropriateness will be reviewed from time to time as necessary.

Where the equipment is provided (lent), but is not installed, by Wikimedia UK, adequate training will be provided to the home worker to do so, or the costs of a local service provider will be met. Thereafter, Wikimedia UK will maintain the equipment on an ongoing basis. Staff will use on-line help facilities to solve minor difficulties. If a major repair is required, it will be the responsibility of the employee to arrange this with either the original lender or an appropriate local provider, once approval has been given by their line manager.

Equipment provided (lent) by Wikimedia UK is for the use of the employee only, and the security of any such equipment will be the responsibility of the employee. Wikimedia UK equipment provided for home working purposes may only be used by the home worker and not by others at their place of home working.

The minimum equipment that any staff member working from home will be expected to have access to includes a desk or table, chair, PC or laptop. Additional equipment might be necessary to meet good practice for working safely with display screen equipment, such as a laptop stand and a separate keyboard and mouse, for example.

On termination of employment all equipment and furniture supplied should be returned, including all storage media and backup copies held. Wikimedia UK could require the return of its equipment or furniture at any other time, according to circumstances and business needs. If the PC is your own then all Wikimedia UK documents and email should be backed up, returned to Wikimedia UK on backup media and then deleted from your computer.

Expenses

Wikimedia UK will provide through the payroll a non taxable allowance of £26 per month or a pro rata equivalent to offset additional costs associated with home working (e.g. broadband, heating and sundry stationery expenses). Copies of invoices are not necessary to claim this allowance. The allowance will be paid to staff whose base in real and practical terms is their home, and who otherwise would be office-based.

The specific furniture and equipment needs of staff working from home will be assessed on an individual, case-by-case basis; ensuring adherence with the basic minimum requirements as described in the previous section. Any equipment or furniture purchased by Wikimedia UK for the use of an employee will belong to Wikimedia UK, will be selected in consultation with an employee’s line-manager and/or the relevant budget holder, and should ideally be purchased on a corporate credit card.

Wikimedia UK will meet the cost of any appropriate additional costs such as a PO Box Address, however any such expenditure must be discussed and agreed with the home worker’s line manager. Wikimedia UK will provide and pay for a mobile phone for staff where there is a clear business need. The phone will remain the property of Wikimedia UK.

The home worker’s base, for the purpose of claiming travel expenses, will be their home address. Staff who work from home on a regular or occasional basis but for whom the Wikimedia UK office is their designated place of work can claim the cost of travelling from their home to external meetings or events (subject to the agreement of their line manager). However, these staff will not generally be able to claim expenses for travelling between their home and the office.

Insurance

Equipment lent by Wikimedia UK for a member of staff to use for home-working purposes will be insured for loss or damage under Wikimedia UK’s insurance policies, providing the Director of Finance and Operations receives the following information:

  • Name and address of the employee where the equipment is mainly used/stored.
  • Type of equipment, serial number and purchase/replacement cost.

Please note that Wikimedia UK equipment left in a car during working hours must be locked in the boot, out of sight. Equipment must not be left in the car outside of working hours or overnight since it will not be covered by Wikimedia UK’s insurance in such circumstances.

If a member of staff purchases their own equipment that may be used for Wikimedia UK’s work, they will be responsible for insuring this equipment.

The member of staff will also be responsible for informing their insurance provider that their premises are to be used for work purposes.

Data Protection

Storage, retrieval and manipulation of data by home workers, whether on paper or by computer, must comply with the requirements of Wikimedia UK’s Data Protection Policy.

All papers containing confidential or personal information should be stored in a secure cabinet at the end of the working day.

Legal Matters

Home workers are advised to check with the relevant party(s) that there are no severe covenants on the use of their home as an office, either as a result of a mortgage agreement or a lease. It is the home worker’s responsibility to make the appropriate checks and Wikimedia UK will not accept liability for any loss suffered by the worker as a result of failing to make checks.

Management

Management of the home worker, other than where detailed in the provisions of this policy, will not differ from the management of Wikimedia UK office-based staff.

The Chief Executive and line manager (if different) will involve the employee in devising the most appropriate methods of maintaining team cohesion and collaboration, paying particular attention to the working relationship between the home worker and any administrative support.

Communication

The Chief Executive will agree with home workers the measures that will ensure regularity of one to one supervision and other communications from Wikimedia UK. All home working staff will attend team meetings and other events, either remotely or in person, Wikimedia UK.

In the event of sickness, home workers must contact their line manager as soon as possible on the first day of sickness and comply with all aspects of the sickness reporting procedures.

Recruitment and selection

During the recruitment process, (as a minimum this must be included on the person specification) candidates will be informed if home working is a requirement for their post; similarly, candidates for posts where home working is an option will be informed of the possibility. In both cases their suitability for home working will be assessed.

On appointment, a new member of staff will receive thorough induction, an opportunity to become familiar with Wikimedia UK, the structure and operation of the organisation, systems and procedures, and to build relationships with the Chief Executive, their line manager and other colleagues. A home worker’s induction will be designed with particular care to ensure that these aims are met.

Moving house

If/when a home worker undertakes a house move, they will be asked to demonstrate that the proposed workspace at the new premises is of an adequate size as detailed in section 5 above relating to minimum workspace requirements.

Where the home worker’s responsibilities relate to a specific geographical area, and the proposed move will take them out of that geographical area, then they must also satisfy the Chief Executive that the additional travelling involved will not lead to a risk to their health or safety at work.

Withdrawal from home working

If a home worker finds that it is no longer possible or convenient for them to work from home, Wikimedia UK will seek to accommodate them within an office, subject to the availability of funding and of suitable office accommodation. However, Wikimedia UK cannot guarantee that a move to office accommodation will be possible. It is strongly recommended that home workers who anticipate that working from home will cease to be possible should discuss this with the Chief Executive at the earliest opportunity.

Working hours

Home workers are advised to take steps to distinguish clearly between working and personal time in order to avoid a ‘blurring’ of boundaries between the two. This is particularly important where the home worker is part-time or is required to work irregular (not standard office) hours. Such steps might include:

  • Specifying in advance the days and times of availability each week and notifying relevant colleagues.
  • Setting up email and voicemail messages advising when the home worker will next be available to deal with calls and queries, thus setting realistic expectations.
  • Avoiding answering business calls or logging in to business email during personal time.

Recording time worked and discussing this regularly with the line manager

Monitoring and evaluation

The Chief Executive and staff share responsibility for monitoring the success of the home working arrangements. Any problems arising should be addressed between the home worker and the Chief Executive at the earliest opportunity.

HOME WORKING AGREEMENT

The original of this agreement should be sent to the Office Manager to be held on the home worker's personnel file. Copies should be distributed as follows:

  • Personnel file
  • Staff member
  • Line Manager

Wikimedia UK’s equipment to be used for home working, with serial numbers

Own equipment to be used on Wikimedia UK’s business at home base


In addition I have agreed to the following with my manager


Date at which the home working agreement will commence


Date of first review


Signed & dated by member of staff


Signed & dated by Chief executive