Written by Sam Dow | 20th April 2022
Employment contracts are required to include place of work, whether that be your home or the office. During the pandemic, a quick shift to remote and then hybrid working meant contracts weren’t updated because of these exceptional circumstances.
Now, many employers are seeing the benefits of hybrid working and wanting to make it permanent. Here, we look at whether that requires changing your employee contracts.
Do I need to make changes to employment contracts?
The short answer is no. Hybrid working can be agreed on an informal basis without the need to change an employment contract. You can agree with your employees that everyone will work from home on Fridays, for example, or whatever home-office split works for each employee. This could be for a trial period or a permanent way of working.
If you decide not to update your employee contracts for hybrid working, we recommend your hybrid working policy is updated and reviewed regularly, especially if you are unsure of what the future will look like for your business.
If you already have a flexible working policy in place, you could consider adapting this to extend it to hybrid working for all those employees who it considers are eligible for it. Otherwise, a new policy will be needed.
Points to include in a hybrid policy include eligibility of employees (some roles may be more suitable for hybrid working than others), what is the split between homeworking and working at the office and office arrangements (such as booking a hot desk). You should also think about expectations of employees and your managers.
Contractual rights over time
A reason to go down the informal route might be because it gives you more freedom to call people back to the office if things don’t work out as planned. There is a risk an employee could try to claim it was custom and practice, but whether a tribunal would actually find this to be true remains difficult to assess, and that we may see case law in this area.
If hybrid working becomes a permanent arrangement for your business, you might want to review your employment contract terms and how hybrid working will affect them. This may include hours of work, salary and benefits, any expenses which can be claimed, and how confidentiality and data protection will be maintained.
Hybrid working requests
Where employees make a formal request for hybrid working through a flexible working policy (and the request is accepted) this will amount to a formal change to terms of employment.
You should review your flexible working policies to ensure you handle requests fairly.
In this case, you may decide that updating employment contracts with clear information about what is expected of hybrid working would be a good idea. This could include whether attendance in the office will be required for a set number of days (and on particular days); or whether the arrangement is going to be flexible enough to allow employees to decide when to come in. Also, if employees need to come into the office for things like client meetings, appraisals and training.
If you’re not sure how to go about your plans for hybrid working, our expert HR Consultants can answer your questions and guide you through the process to help you get it right. We can also review and amend your contracts and policies to ensure they are fit for purpose and give your people and business flexibility.
For a no-obligation chat with one of our team, please email [email protected].