In response to the current Coronavirus pandemic crisis and Government guidance, our employees may find themselves working from home and it is difficult to determine how long homeworking may be necessary.

The Health and Safety Executive are advising that there is no increased risk from DSE work for those working at home temporarily during this period. That said, we will all be making adjustments to ensure that we are comfortable and able to work productively from home.  These pages provide some additional pointers.

Setting up your workstation

In order to achieve a good working posture there are a series of steps which you can take: 

  • Sit at a table rather than on the sofa or in bed where possible.
  • Raise the laptop screen to eye level, using a laptop raiser, boxes or similar if required. 
  • Attach a separate keyboard and mouse where possible 
  • Adopt a good sitting position in order to avoid straining wrists, arms, neck or back 
  • Sit directly in front of your screen (i.e. avoid twisting positions) 
  • Avoid glare and reflected light 

Practical solutions suggested by the Health and Safety Executive include:-

  • Supporting cushions for lumbar support
  • A small box as a footrest
  • An ironing board or kitchen counter as a standing desk
  • Books or boxes as a monitor raiser

See the CIEHF’s Infographic on workstation set up or watch the video above for more assistance in setting up a good workstation and environment.

Alternatives

Where you have been using specialist ergonomic equipment in your office and feel you are unable to work safely without this at home, you should discuss this with your line manager. They will be able to contact the facilities to discuss arrangements.

Contacts for managers to use

You should set up as you would normally at work and as detailed in the CIEHF guidance. If you are working with a laptop and separate mouse, then try to lift the laptop to eye level by using boxes or similar.

Plant feet firmly on the floor and sit back in the seat. Add a cushion to the backrest if needed. Move the chair close to the table and bring the laptop near to the edge. Try to lift the laptop to eye level and connect a separate keyboard and mouse to encourage a more neutral posture.

Plant feet firmly on the floor and sit back in the seat. Put your laptop on a book / magazine on a cushion to raise the screen slightly and improve neck posture. Place a cushion behind you for better lower back support. Keep shoulders down and relaxed, elbows by your side and wrists straight. Take a break every 15-20 minutes.

Stand occasionally to work. An adjustable height ironing board is ideal. Alternatively, put the laptop on any flat surface at a standing height. A good regime could be 20 minutes sitting, eight minutes standing, two minutes moving.

These are unprecedented times, whilst we encourage people to try to have uninterrupted workspaces, we appreciate that this is an evolving picture, and this may not be possible. Where possible you should try to create a workspace away from your living space to reduce noise distraction. If you can’t, wear earphones or headphones to take calls.

Try to ensure you have enough light & avoid screen glare either by using a lamp or natural light. 

If you have any immediate concerns regarding the health and safety of working from your home, please advise your manager who will work through options with you.

Managers can use the Homeworker Issues checklist to ensure staff are working safely.

Request for office space/equipment on the grounds of Health and Safety

Consider only if you have employees who are struggling with their physical or mental well-being while working from home and you feel this could only be improved by returning to the office

Income Tax Relief and Insurance

Many of us have now been working from home for the greatest part of our roles for much of the past year. Did you know that if your employer requires you to work at home, you can claim for increased costs due to working from home, e.g. heating and electricity.  Right now, as a result of the pandemic, many ACC workplaces are closed and the Scottish Government requires that we work from home if it is possible to do so .  

This means that you are eligible to claim tax relief for additional household costs if you have to work at home on a regular basis, either for all or part of the week. This includes if you have to work from home because of coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions.  

You can claim tax relief based on the rate at which you pay tax. For example, if you pay the 20% basic rate of tax and claim tax relief on £6 a week you would get £1.20 per week in tax relief (20% of £6) or £2.40 a week for a higher 40% rate taxpayerThat’s a gain of £62/year for basic rate taxpayers, £124/year at the higher rate. 

To find out more information or to apply for tax relief visit HMRC, it only takes ten minutes.  

Don’t expect to receive a cheque for this money though. It is done by altering your tax codeThe result will be less tax taken off each month for the rest of the year which means you’ll take home more. 

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