NHS Fife acknowledges and agrees with the importance of regular and timely review of policy statements and aims to review policies within the timescales set out.
New policies will be subject to a review date of no more than 1 year from the date of first issue.
Reviewed policies will have a review date set that is relevant to the content (advised by the author) but will be no longer than 3 years.
If a policy is past its review date then the content will remain extant until either such time as the policy review is complete and the new version published, or there are national policy or legislative changes:
NHS Fife is committed to promoting and practising equal opportunities in employment. This includes giving staff the opportunity to work more flexibly, wherever practicable.
- Applicability and Definitions
This policy applies to any post where work is performed at home instead of at the board's premises for a significant proportion of the contractual working hours due to a pandemic.
1.1 Working from Home
'Working from Home' occurs when an employee agrees with their manager to work at home for part or all of their working time on a temporary basis, even though their contract of employment requires them to be based on the board’s premises.
1.2 Working from Home During a pandemic
Scottish Government guidance states that homeworking as a public health measure in response to the pandemic has been a crucial factor in mitigating the transmission of the virus amongst the general population. Homeworking has not been a choice for the organisations that have implemented it, nor was it a choice for the workers who are practising it. Those who are working from home are contributing to the public health effort, just as those returning to the workplace are. People working from home are making it safer for those workers who cannot work from home – it is an effort we must continue. The guidance can be found here:
This guidance refers to the current Scottish Government position during Phase 3 and will be updated as we move through future phases, based on public health advice. The most recent coronavirus related developments can be found on the Coronavirus in Scotland webpage.
The Coronavirus (COVID-19): framework for decision making – Scotland’s route map through and out of the crisis, was published on 21 May and sets out the phases by which we plan to ease lockdown. They will be gradual and incremental and will be matched with careful monitoring of the virus. https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-framework-decision-making-scotlands-route-map-through-out-crisis/
While non-essential workplaces begin to reopen, working from home and working flexibly will remain the default – if organisations have largely managed to have their staff working from home effectively during the pandemic, they should continue to do so wherever possible. In short, employers should continue to maximise homeworking in their organisations. This is the Scottish Government’s position and will continue to be when we move into Phase 4 of the Route Map.
The purpose of this policy is to maintain our duty of care to patients whilst maintaining the Health and Safety of Staff during a Pandemic and ensuring NHS Fife follows Scottish Government guidance. It recognises that the impact of the pandemic is significant and that the previous working arrangements require to be adapted in response to the pandemic. Planning assumptions indicated that a pandemic would result in an increased workload coupled with a reduction in available staff and there may be a requirement for some staff groups to work from home for a temporary period of time. NHS Fife recognises that any working from home arrangements will require regular review as we move through the various stages of the pandemic.
Key things to remember:
- Work is what you do not where you are.
- Their personal, physical, mental and emotional health is extremely important right now, take care of yourself and your staff!
- Staff should not try to compensate for lost productivity by working longer hours.
- Staff should be kind to themselves and should not judge how they are coping based on how they see others coping.
- Staff should not judge others on how they are coping based on how they are coping.
- Success will not be measured the same way it was when things are normal.
This policy applies to all employees of NHS Fife. It does not specifically exclude any member of staff from working from home, however managers will determine by reference to the duties of a post the suitability of specific posts and staff for working from home.
2.1 Staff Returning to the Workplace
As part of NHS Fife’s remobilisation planning, a working group has been set up to provide managers with comprehensive guidance to support the safe return of team members to the workplace.
The Returning to the Workplace – Guidance and Support for Employees and Managers for Returning to the Workplace during COVID 19 – v2 and all associated documentation can be accessed via the following link: https://app.joinblink.com/#/hub/a093364a-9a85-498e-9a90-52aee17738bf
2.1.1 Circumstances where it may be appropriate for staff to be working at home for a temporary period of time:
Many staff will be required to change or adjust their roles during this pandemic period, potentially on a regular basis as the needs of the service develop. Line Managers and staff are asked to be flexible and understanding of the changing circumstances and needs of the service and to carry out risk assessments where appropriate. Circumstances where working from home may be appropriate includes:
126.96.36.199. Scottish Government Guidance
- Staff who have been advised not to attend work in line with Scottish Government guidance and are able to work from home undertaking their own role or alternative work that can be done from home.
188.8.131.52 Self- Isolation
Where staff who are following advice to self-isolate in accordance with up to date advice (https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/infections-and-poisoning/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-covid-19-stay-at-home-advice), but are not displaying symptoms and feel well enough to work, could undertake work from home. Arrangements will need to be made for safe provision of equipment and resources required, e.g., drop off at staff member’s home, taking account of need for no contact, e.g., leave at their front door with telephone contact to ensure the items are picked up immediately. It will be important for the staff member to inform their manager if their status at home changes in relation to infection with COVID-19, or other members of the household.
184.108.40.206 Child-care or Caring Responsibilities
In addition there are other circumstances where working from home may be appropriate this includes:
- Staff who are unable to attend work due to other responsibilities, such as child-care or caring for a dependant. Please note the Scottish Government guidance relating to key workers if the issue relates to School Closure issues is updated here:
All schools have plans in place in the event that someone becomes ill while in school but we need you to play your part.
If a local lockdown is imposed and this results in your child’s school closing then your local authority will advise around any arrangements that they may put in place in line with the public health guidelines.
Fife Council information is updated here:
Arrangements need to be made to supply the staff member with the appropriate equipment etc to enable them to work from home.
The responsibility for the application of the policy rests with Line Managers, Staff and HR staff within NHS Fife.
3.1 Line Managers shall:
- Ensure the role can be undertaken effectively without direct supervision.
- Understand the impact that the home environment may have on the role.
- That staff have clarity of the role, deadlines and objectives with feedback.
- Ensure that staff have the ability to competently use appropriate IT software.
3.2 Staff Working from Home shall:
- Contact their Line Manager/Professional Lead and colleagues as often as agreed with their manager.
- Report to base for any agreed required meetings in line with SG guidelines.
- Identify an appropriate workspace within their home that will enable them to work safely.
- Identify the home location(s) for the purpose of working from home. A Health & Safety Self Assessment [Appendix 1] must be completed for each location. Where working from home will involve use of Display Screen Equipment (DSE) a DSE Self Assessment will also be required [GP/D1.1 DSE Procedure].
- Staff using DSE for Work at Home should also complete DSE Self Assessment [GP/D1.1 DSE Procedure] although not all elements of this will be required for short duration activity. This should be discussed with the NHS Fife H&S Advisors (firstname.lastname@example.org) as required.
- Comply with their terms and conditions of employment, relevant policies, procedures and legislation.
- Where appropriate, use supplies and equipment belonging to the board solely for the purposes of carrying out the employer’s work unless otherwise authorised by their line manager.
3.3 Confidentiality and Data Protection
Where the working from home arrangements involve the use of personal or shared space and/or computing resources, it must be noted the information governance risks of doing so may outweigh any operational advantage of working from home. For all working from home scenarios, consideration of risks must be made and should take account of the potential to:
- accidentally breach patient confidentiality;
- disclose other sensitive data of the organisation to unauthorised individuals;
- lose or damage critical business data;
- damage the organisation’s infrastructure and e-services through spread of un-trapped malicious code such as viruses;
- create a hacking opportunity through an unauthorised internet access point;
- misuse data through uncontrolled use of removable media such as digital memory sticks and other media;
- cause other operational or reputational damage;
3.3.1 The Line Manager is responsible for
- Approving working from home and requesting support from the eHealth Infrastructure team to enable the member of staff to work from home.
- Ensuring only NHS Fife, eHealth Infrastructure approved equipment is supplied to facilitate working from home in line with the mobile device policy.
- Ensuring staff receive information governance training from the eHealth Information Service department if required.
- Ensuring that the member of staff has a clear understanding of their responsibilities in relation to data protection and confidentiality.
3.3.2. The Staff Member is required to
- Respect the confidentiality and privacy of individuals whose records they access; to observe any restrictions that apply to sensitive data; and to abide by legislation, policies, procedures, and guidelines with respect to access, use or disclosure of information.
- Note that the unauthorised disclosure of NHS Fife data in any medium is expressly forbidden, as is the access or use of any NHS Fife data for one’s own personal gain, or profit, or to satisfy one’s personal curiosity or that of others.
- Comply with the Intellectual Property and Data Protection requirements set out within Appendix 3.
- Ensure that during telephone calls or MS Teams calls that you ensure that you are working somewhere that is interruption free and that it is paramount that confidentiality can be maintained at all times i.e. cannot be overheard, cannot see your PC/laptop screen and that hard copy documents cannot be seen.
- Operational System
4.1 Managers and staff should consider appropriate types of work to undertake in the home environment, taking account of issues such as patient and staff confidentiality.
4.2 The manager should establish if the staff member's normal role is suitable to be undertaken at home. If not, the line manager and staff member should discuss appropriate alternative duties where these are available and required to be undertaken, for the temporary period of time the staff member is required to work at home.
4.3 Staff have a range of transferrable skills that can be used appropriately to support the service when working from home, e.g., where staff are usually patient facing they may be able to provide advice to other health care workers as appropriate. When additional training is required this should be discussed with the line manager with advice from the HR Directorate if required.
4.4. Whilst supervision and management arrangements remain key, the manner in which this will be done will alter, with teams, individuals, team leaders and line managers considering how they give effect to these arrangements, e.g. the use of technology (video calls, MS Teams, teleconferencing, IP Communicator etc.).
4.5.The staff member's wellbeing remains important and the line manager must be assured in discussion with them that their home environment is safe for their home working activities and regular communication should be maintained via telephone, web chat, email and video conferencing to ensure staff who are working from home remain updated on what is happening within the workplace and for them to maintain regular contact with colleagues.
5.1 Guidance for working from home:
- Working at home should be used to undertake specific work activities;
- Frequency and duration of working at home should be agreed with the manager and relevant colleagues;
- Once there is an agreement that an individual is to work from home for a period of time, the arrangement should be respected in so far as possible and it should be subject to regular review;
- Perceived problems caused by staff working from home should be addressed within departments and/or teams;
- Staff working at home must be contactable by telephone and/or email;
5.2 Regular Information/Support/Communications
The following provides guidance to managers and staff to ensure that those who work from home form an integral part of a team:
- The manager should ensure that staff have the opportunity to meet with their team at regular intervals using MS Teams or videoconferencing facilities;
- In addition to regular team briefings, line managers will ensure that there are regular communications, as appropriate, made between the office-based team and staff working from home;
- Clear objectives are required with specific targets and the organisation of work into a series of 'deliverable' segments where appropriate;
- Staff shall be supplied with relevant IT equipment, e.g. e-mail, telephone conference facilities, laptop, computer, etc. to allow them to work effectively.
- Performance management of staff who work from home should be consistent with that of office based staff, so it would be advisable to focus all assessments on work produced and whether or not objectives have been met.
- If a line manager has concerns, they should have an informal discussion as this may clear up misunderstandings or help them understand the problem. The line manager can then provide support if necessary. But, if the staff member’s performance does not improve, the line manager may need to act further in line with the appropriate Once for Scotland policy.
- If your staff member is going to be in the office some days and working from home other days make sure you know what it is they are going to be working on and that they have a plan in place, and agreed with you.
5.3 Terms and Conditions of Employment
The terms and conditions set out below must be agreed before working from home begins.
5.3.1 Place of Work:
Whilst staff are temporarily working from home, the base stated within their contract of employment remains as such.
5.3.2 Hours of Work
The opportunity to work from home will enable the staff member to offer ideas on how they might best work their hours, to optimise the arrangements to ensure service provision. Once an arrangement is agreed this would be on a temporary basis subject to regular review.
There should be a clear understanding over when the staff member will work and they must remain contactable during these times. The staff member working from home will need to communicate clearly, letting their line manager, colleagues and clients know when they will be available using the agreed method of recording.
5.3.3 Domestic Arrangements
Staff working from home should where possible carry out work duties during their normal hours of work. It is recognised that due to a Pandemic any domestic arrangements such as childcare/carer arrangements and any other arrangements that the member of staff would normally require to have in place to enable them to attend the workplace may not be available. Line Managers should discuss with staff how best to support them to work differently at this time.
5.3.4 Reporting Absence
Staff working from home, are required to follow the normal absence reporting procedures as set out below:
- Report to manager periods of sickness and any work-related health issues e.g. pregnancy, accident / injury, disability, work-related stress in line with the appropriate policy.
- The usual arrangements still apply when reporting incapacity for work due to sickness (e.g. contacting the manager, completing RTW form, or supplying a fit note)
- The usual arrangements apply when requesting annual leave, emergency annual leave, carers leave or reporting other unplanned disruptions to the agreed work schedule.
- When the working from home arrangement follows a period of long term sickness, or is during a recovery from an injury, there must be a fit note confirming the employee is otherwise fit to resume work duties
5.3.5 Reimbursement of Expenses
Reimbursement of business travel costs if required will be based on their normal place of work unless otherwise agreed.
- Equipment and Workstation
- NHS Fife will provide, staff working from home, equipment as required. The organisation will be responsible for maintenance and repair if required. Stationery and similar office materials will be supplied by NHS Fife;
- NHS Fife will, at its discretion and up to specified limits, reimburse the staff member for the previously agreed purchase of essential equipment, e.g. desk, chair, filing cabinet;
- The staff member is responsible for keeping all such equipment in good condition, reasonable wear and tear excepted, and for reporting any damage or malfunction to the line manager;
- The homeworker shall be responsible for ensuring that equipment and furniture purchased meets health and safety requirements as outlined within Appendix 2;
- If the staff member or NHS Fife ends the contract of employment, NHS Fife will have the right to recover all its property including equipment, software and copy documents and files. Without prejudice to the organisation's legal right, entry to the employee's home should always be by mutual agreement;
- Staff may be provided with a mobile phone if required;
- Additional and/or specialist equipment may be required, due to a staff member's disability. On such occasions it may be appropriate to have the workplace assessed by Occupational Health or the local Disability Employment Adviser to advise on equipment available under the access to work scheme.
- Taxation and Insurance Arrangements
7.1 Based on current legislation, it is not expected that there should be any additional personal taxation or Benefit in Kind implications on a staff member as a result of working from home. Staff should be encouraged to contact HMRC to satisfy themselves as to any tax liability or relief arising from working from home.
7.2 It is not expected that there will be any Capital Gains Tax implications if the room used for working from home is dual purpose (i.e. occupies under 10% of the staff member's home). However, staff should contact HM Revenue & Customs to confirm their individual circumstances.
7.3 Insurance arrangements are a joint responsibility between Staff and NHS Fife. If requested staff must provide evidence of their home contents insurance cover.
8.Review of Working from Home
As we navigate through the COVID-19 Pandemic, the expectations on staff may change in relation to working from home, as lockdown measures are reviewed and lifted, how we work moving forward will be subject to change, detailed below are options which will need to be considered:
- Continuation of staff undertaking all of their work at home. Ongoing use of video or teleconferencing facilities where required for attendance at meetings and important updates, etc when working remotely.
- A mixture of home and on-site working may be required and appropriate, to ensure physical distancing measures and hand hygiene practices are maintained and allowing the staff member working from home to focus on their work when at home, while still feeling part of the team and catching up on what is happening in the team when on site, where it is safe for the individual to be on site.
- A return to on-site working undertaking all contracted hours.
Line Managers should discuss with their staff how they will carry out their role when required to attend work on-site and the following should be considered:
- Rota system for staff to attend work to ensure physical distancing measures and hand hygiene practices can be maintained.
- Staggered start and finish times to avoid peak travel times for those who use public transport.
- Ongoing use of video or teleconferencing facilities whilst in work, where required for attendance at meetings to ensure physical distancing measures are maintained.
9. Monitoring and Review
Where staff are working from home, the organisation is required to monitor and review this on at least a two year basis to ensure that the terms of this policy are operating effectively. If they are not, the organisation reserves the right to review a staff member 's place of work (home) after discussion with the member of staff.
10. Risk Management
This policy will be reviewed yearly to ensure compliance with relevant and appropriate employment legislation.
The organisation will review the composition of staff working from home as a proportion of the workforce to ensure no unjustified indirect discrimination takes place.
This policy should be read in conjunction with the organisation's Equality, Diversity and Human Rights Policy.
- NHS Fife Working from Home Staff Health and Wellbeing Guidance
- NHS Fife Working from Home Top 10 Tips
- NHS Fife Display Screen Equipment Procedure [GP/D 1.1]
- NHS Fife Working from Home Checklist/Agreement
- NHS Fife eHealth Equipment Home Working Policy [GP/H6]
- NHS Fife eHealth Remote Access Policy [GP/B2]
- NHS Fife Information Security Policy [GP/I5]
- NHS Fife Non NHS Equipment Policy [GP/E7]
- NHS Fife Returning to the Workplace Guidance
- All supplementary NHS Fife Information Security Policies
- ACAS Working from Home Guidance
- CIPD Managing Home Working
- Health & Safety Executive
- The Equality and Human Rights Commission
- NHS Inform Scotland
- Scottish Government
Appendix 1 Health and Safety Audit: Working from Home - Staff Self Assessment
Appendix 2 - Working from Home Health and Safety Issues
Appendix 3 -Working from Home - Intellectual Property and Data Protection