Can an employer require their employee to use their own equipment for home working during the Coronavirus lockdown?

Can an employer require their employee to use their own equipment for home working during the Coronavirus lockdown?

With some exceptions (eg in the building trade), it is customary for the employer to provide an employee with the equipment necessary to do their job (as opposed to a self-employed person who is usually expected to provide their own equipment).

There are no particular statutory provisions relating to the provision of equipment to an employee who is homeworking.

See Precedents: Policy—homeworking and Policy—temporary homeworking arrangements. Paragraph 4 of Precedent: Policy—homeworking provides that the employer will provide all necessary equipment to a designated homeworker, but not to an ‘ad hoc homeworker’.

In the context of the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown, where an employer may have had to arrange for a large number of employees to work from home unexpectedly, the employer may be unable to provide the necessary equipment, such as computer equipment, desks and chairs to all of its staff. In those circumstances, it may be that it would be a reasonable instruction for the employer to ask the employee to provide their own equipment where possible, taking into consideration, for example:

• the employee’s circumstances, eg whether they have their own equipment, whether it is suitable for work purposes and whether it is available (it may be in use by someone else in the employee’s household, eg for their work or study)

• the employer’s proposed arrangements, eg relating to IT support, IT security, data protection, payment of expenses

According to the Acas guidance on working from home, employers and employees should be practical, flexible and sensitive to each other’s situation when working from home because of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Employers are responsible for the equipment and technology they give employees so they can work from home. The employer should:

• discuss equipment and technology with the employee

• agree what’s needed

• support the employee to set up any new equipment or technology

If an employee also has some work tasks that can be done safely away from their home, they should make sure they have access to the right equipment for those duties—eg this might include having their work laptop with them.

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