Ever since we all locked our office doors in 2020, business owners up and down the country have discovered that remote and hybrid working arrangements aren’t all that bad!
But business owners have to think beyond the late alarms and afternoons working in the garden. We have to think about finances.
Sometimes the additional set up costs and ongoing expenses of remote working can outweigh the benefits. Paying for things like new technology, conferencing equipment and better broadband can quickly add up.
On top of the obvious costs, things like expenses can be tricky to understand and anticipate. Luckily our team of HR and people management experts are here to answer your key questions.
Do I have to pay for any employee expenses such as broadband, extra heating and electric?
There is no legal obligation for you to reimburse your employees for their household expenses, even if they have increased as a result of remote or hybrid working.
It’s up to you to decide your policy and let your staff know as part of your discussions with them when setting up any new remote working arrangements.
There are a number of options: you could choose to reimburse reasonable expenses, for example, provided that staff follow your normal expenses policy. Some household expenses and costs of home office equipment can be repaid tax free. Or you could pay a certain sum every month to each employee.
You can also point staff to guidance from HMRC. Your employees may be able to claim tax relief for things like their gas, electricity, water, phone and Wi-Fi increases that are due to hybrid or remote working.
Do I need to pay travel expenses when someone comes to the office?
It depends on what the employment contract states.
Typically, if someone is a homeworker and their contract states this, they would normally expect to claim expenses for all travel, including coming into the office.
However, if an employee’s contract refers to a workplace that’s not their home, they would normally be expected to pay for their own travel to and from that workplace.
In the new hybrid working world there is particular scope for confusion about travel expenses, so you’ll need to cover in any new contracts how often an employee is required to attend the office and whether travel expenses will be covered, just to keep things clear.
It’s also important where you have a number of staff working remotely or in hybrid working roles that you are consistent in your decisions and communicate them clearly.
What about the costs of insuring equipment?
If you provide staff with any equipment, such as a laptop, for working remotely, you’ll probably be able to continue to cover this on your business insurance.
However, if this isn’t possible for any reason, you can ask your employee to make sure that they have insurance cover for the equipment at home. If this involves any increased cost to them, it would be usual for you to cover that cost.
As always, when changing the way you work, be sure to review your contracts and policies including remote working, health and safety, expenses, and flexible working to make sure they are consistent and clear.
The content of this blog is for general information only. Please don’t rely on it as legal or other professional advice as that is not what we intend. You can find more detail on this in our Terms of Website Use. If you require professional advice, please get in touch.
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