Health, safety and wellbeing when working from home

Mental and physical health when working from home

Employers should pay attention to the mental and physical health of their employees. Everyone should be encouraged to look after their health – for example, by getting support and doing regular exercise.

Employers should not make assumptions. They should speak with their staff and agree on what support may be needed – for example, if an employee with a disability needs reasonable adjustments.

Disability

Mental and physical health issues can be considered disabilities under the law (Equality Act 2010). Employers must make 'reasonable adjustments' for employees who are disabled.

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Mental health

During the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic more people may be struggling with their mental health. This might include increased stress or anxiety. People who work from home might experience loneliness.

Employers should think about how to support their employees' mental health and wellbeing. They should talk to them about any problems they might be having.

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Stress from changes at work

Employees can find change stressful – including changes in working from home and hybrid working.

Employers can help to reduce stress by helping an employee:

  • agree regular contact
  • avoid feeling left out and lonely
  • feel trusted and supported
  • know how to get help with their mental health
  • know how to report IT issues
  • know what is expected of them – for example, when working from home

Physical health

Employers should make sure their employees have the necessary equipment and information to work safely. Employees might experience pain if they do not have the right working equipment – for example, they might have back problems caused by an unsuitable chair and desk.

Employers must protect staff from any health risks from using 'display screen equipment' (for example, computers, laptops or smartphones).

Find out about working safely with display screen equipment from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)

Work-life balance

When staff are working from home, they can struggle with:

  • finding it harder to switch off from work
  • working longer hours

Employers must follow the law on working hours. Employees have a right to rest breaks and should make sure they take them.

Employees might find it helpful to:

  • have clear start and finish times
  • switch off their work equipment at the end of the working day
  • take regular rest breaks away from a screen

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Sickness

Employees who work from home can feel pressure to work while ill (this is sometimes called 'presenteeism'). Employers should encourage them to take sick leave when they're ill.

Employees should make sure they:

  • know what sick pay and leave they're entitled to
  • take sick leave if they're not well enough to work

Find out more about sick pay

Advice from the NHS

The NHS offers advice, tips and tools to help you make the best choices about your health and wellbeing.

Visit the NHS Live Well website

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