What is home working?
The term ‘home working’ covers two broad categories of work.
Self-employment: The majority of home workers are self-employed, including anybody who has set up a home-based business or who offers a product or service from their home, such as a music teacher, an electrician, an artist or a writer.
A freelancer is a self-employed contractor who performs a service for a client without a long-term commitment. Most of their work can be done from home at the times that they choose.
An individual who is employed but who works from home for all or part of their working week. The arrangement may be made at the request of their employer, or be negotiated by the employee. This category includes teleworkers who have the technology installed in their home by their employer to enable them to undertake their role from home, rather than from an office. It would also cover outworkers such as skilled piece-workers and contract packers who are paid to produce certain quantities of a product from their own home.
Access to the internet enables many employees to work from home for part of their working week, a trend that appears to be growing. In addition, parents of children under six years old or disabled children under 18 years, and carers of some adults, have a legal right to apply to their employer to work flexibly (including home working), and the employer has a statutory duty to seriously consider such requests. The employee must demonstrate that the flexible working arrangements are viable and would not adversely affect their employer’s business.
More information on flexible working can be found at the Direct Gov website.
The trade union Unison has produced guidelines for employers entitled Homeworking and Teleworking – A Negotiators Guide (PDF 293KB). Their definition of home working is as follows:
- Homeworking involves working at home for either part or all of an employee’s contracted working hours as opposed to working in an office or other workplace. Working from home usually involves employees who are mobile for significant periods of their working time using their home as a base. These workers are also sometimes referred to as “remote workers”, “home-start” or “field-start” staff.
- Teleworkers are a specific type of homeworker in that they are people who work mainly at or from home and who use both a telephone and a computer to do their job. Around 2% of employees are regular teleworkers. Not surprisingly they tend to be in white-collar jobs.
This article describes some of the points you should think about before deciding whether home working is appropriate for you, and help you research and create opportunities.