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Insuring remote workers 

 

It’s a good time to review your insurance policy to make sure that you’re covered for having staff working remotely. We take a look at what founders should check for. 

  • Check what your existing insurance covers
  • Find out if you need to tell your insurers that your staff are now remote
  • Make sure health and safety rules are adhered to. 

The majority of the UK’s workforce has now been working at home for a few weeks, ironing out teething problems with remote software and becoming expert in video conferencing etiquette. Founders are adapting to managing their business from afar and line managers are mastering the art of remote one-to-ones. 

But although the scenery has changed, employment law has not. Whether working in an office or at home, employers still have a responsibility for their employees. Now is a good time for business leaders to review their existing insurance and make sure that both they and their staff are covered for remote working. 

What to check for 

First and foremost, business leaders should look over their existing business insurance policy. Insurance is tailored to the needs of a given business and not all policies will look the same. 

Check that your employer’s liability insurance covers remote working. This is the insurance that provides cover for illness and injury at work, and applies to almost all businesses. It’s also important to note that employer’s liability includes psychological health issues as well as physical injury or difficulty – more on this below. 

Employers should double check whether their business insurance provider requires notice of any changes to normal work. If this is the case, they should then inform the provider that staff are now working from home (and don’t assume that they will already have taken this into account). 

Make sure that cover includes employees using business equipment, like laptops, at home. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) says: “Employers need to ensure that any equipment their employees have (such as laptops) is appropriately covered by the employers’ insurance, as this won’t be covered by the home insurance.” 

The ABI says that generally, cyber insurance policies will cover home or remote working. But again, it’s worth checking with a provider that this is in place. Founders can also check out these tips on keeping remote systems secure, find out more.

Health and safety 

Employers have the same obligations over the health and safety of their employees regardless of whether they’re working in an office or at home. Although health and safety rules aren’t quite the same as an insurance policy, it’s a good idea to be familiar with what’s required of employers. 

Usually when employees work from home on a long-term basis, their employers need to risk-assess their workstation. Given the rules on social distancing it’s unlikely that an employer could access their employees’ work space at the moment. However, according to the UK government’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE), employers can give their staff advice and material for completing a risk assessment themselves. 

If an accident does happen at home, the ABI says that it will likely be covered by employer’s liability insurance if it’s related to work. “If it’s more of a personal accident, such as tripping over a rug in the living room, this may not be covered,” the ABI adds. 

Beyond checking that workstations are safe, employers should also make sure that staff have all the equipment they need to be able to work safely. This might include providing a back support for chairs, for example, or a prop to keep computer screens at eye level. 

Make sure that employees know the procedure for reporting a work-related incident or any health and safety concerns they have. This also includes keeping channels open for employees to talk to their managers about their wellbeing. 

As mentioned above, employers are responsible for the psychological wellbeing of the people who work for them, just as much as they are for their physical safety. Remote working has its challenges at the best of times and employees now are likely to be dealing with a lot of additional stress. Employers should keep in touch with their staff on a regular basis.  

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