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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 September, 2003, 13:57 GMT 14:57 UK
Guidelines for home workers
The government has issued a code of practice for people who work from home.

It's estimated that 2.2 million employees are now teleworkers, using technology to do their jobs.

And it's likely to become even more common.

From April this year, employees with disabled children or children under six have had the right to ask for flexible working, including teleworking if they wish.

Employers have a duty to give such requests serious consideration.

The guidelines have been drawn up by the Department of Trade & Industry in conjunction with the TUC, the CBI and CEEP, the local government employers' organisation.

They cover all aspects of worklife, including:

  • contracts
  • taxation
  • health and safety
  • equipment and furniture
  • information and security
  • expenses and allowances
  • personal support.

    The employment relations minister, Gerry Sutcliffe, says:"I'm pleased that this guidance has come together without the need for legislation to provide information for teleworkers about health and safety about taxation and expenses and about human resources such as recruitment and training and career progression."

    The aim is to ensure that both sides know exactly where they stand in the relationship and who is responsible for what.

    The home can potentially be a dangerous place.
    Alan Denbigh,
    Telework Association
    The home of a teleworker effectively becomes an extension of their employer's premises and must conform to the relevant legislation and working practices.

    But the employee also has certain duties, such as assessing safety and reporting any health hazards.

    "The home can potentially be a dangerous place," says Alan Denbigh of the Telework Association.

    "Even if the most dangerous item you are going to be using is a PC or a telephone you have got to think about how you lay out the workplace and look for trailing cables and make sure that electrical safety is every bit as good as it would be in the office."

    And people need to be aware that simply working from home does not mean they can claims electricity and wear and tear on their tax return.

    They need to meet certain criteria about why they have to work at home.

    About 7.4% of people are now teleworkers.

    Alan Denbigh - who naturally works from home - believes it's the way of the future, with benefits for both sides.

    "From the employer's point of view it means they are more likely to retain and recruit staff and they can save money on those expensive city centre offices," he says.

    Stephen Alambritis
    Stephen Alambritis: Resentment
    "From the individual's point of view it means cutting out travel. If you're in London you're spending 10 hours a week getting to work and that's your time at your expense."

    However, not everyone thinks all in the garden is rosy.

    Stephen Alambritis from the Federation of Small Businesses says: "It's the small employer that has to deal with the resentment from the staff chosen to stay in the workplace who feel that they have been left out - why have other staff been allowed to work from home?

    "In a large firm that won't happen - there'll be volunteers to work from home - but in a small firm it's the small employer who needs to deal with that growing resentment."

    The BBC's Virginia Eastman
    "The Inland Revenue is clamping down on people who say they are teleworking when they don't have to"

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