COVID 19 – Working from Home and Employer’s Liability Insurance
In these unprecedented times, businesses face many challenges ahead. There are lots of new considerations to undertake and many companies will now have a large proportion of their employees working from home.
There are two main issues to consider, firstly to ensure that if the staff are clerical in nature that their work area is safe and that you check in with them regularly to make sure they are OK. Secondly, that you notify your insurers if employees have taken work property home, to ensure there is cover in place for property owned by the business.
UK insurers should have no issue with non-manual (UK domicile) employees working from home, but from a Health & Safety / risk perspective employers need to follow their usual procedures and ensure that it is suitable and safe for them to do so. Guidance can be found at: https://www.hse.gov.uk/toolbox/workers/home.htm https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/guidance-for-employers-and-businesses-on-coronavirus-covid-19
Separately, it is also recommended that employees check that their home insurance does not prohibit home working and/or notify their insurers where appropriate.
Employment Practices Liability
For any business there is always a possibility that claims may arise when a business is considered to have inadequately prepared itself to handle how an outbreak may affect the business.
Insurers would expect policyholders to take appropriate prudent measures to protect their employees and the business. For example, organisations should be reviewing their current plans or put plans in place by establishing a pandemic coordinator to focus on this issue (including addressing such issues as protecting staff).
Any claim brought by an employee (against their employer) for breach of employment law would ordinarily be the subject of a claim under an Employment Practice Liability Insurance policy, e.g. an employee claiming for wrongful termination.
Employers should check with their insurance provider whether they have such coverage in place (it may be arranged in isolation or as part of a Management Liability policy).