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Yorkshire Employers Could Be Putting Home Workers At Risk

Lack of clarity around home working legislation could be putting home workers at risk of future health complications

New research by Fellowes Brands reveals some enlightening findings across the UK:

  • A third of workers (38%) feel stressed / anxious and lonely / isolated (32%)
  • Over 1 in 4 suffer strained eyes (27%), stiff neck (27%), a sore or aching back (26%), and headaches (25%)
  • 1 in 4 (25%) are overwhelmed and almost 1 in 5 feel undervalued (19%)
  • Less than half (49%) have a proper home workstation with 10% admitting to working from their sofa, 5% from their bed and 3% on the floor
  • 45% of workers have NEVER completed a home workstation risk assessment
  • 47% work longer hours when working from home than in the office

Fellowes Brands is calling on employers and the public to act now to future-proof the health of the nation, as lack of clarity around home working legislation could put workers at risk.

NEW research from global healthy workspace solutions provider, Fellowes Brands with its UK head office based in Doncaster , South Yorkshire, reveals the alarming impact home working is having on the mental wellbeing and physical health of the nation. Over a third (35%) of UK workers admit feeling stressed or anxious whilst nearly half (49%) have experienced more physical strain while working from home.

Current legislation around home working states – it is only a legal requirement for employers to provide workstation risk assessments if employees are ‘permanent’ home workers.

“Employers have the same health and safety responsibilities for home workers as for any other workers. The coronavirus pandemic has meant more people are now working from home – a trend we are likely to see continue,” said Kizzy Augustin, Health & Safety Partner at Russell Cooke Solicitors. “This means an increase in flexible or hybrid working between office and home, so employers, need to take responsibility, be proactive and work collaboratively, to continually review and adapt working practices for their employees. Current regulations are somewhat outdated and do not necessarily reflect modern working practices. If there is a permanent shift to new ways of hybrid working – legislation and associated guidance should be updated to ensure it remains relevant and protects the health, safety and welfare of employees.”

Despite the common perception that home working means a better work / life balance, nearly half (47%) work longer hours when working from home, compared to in the office. One in 5 feel guilty taking a break and 29% are too busy to do so. It is no surprise, then, that nearly half (49%) experience more physical strain working from home, with over a quarter suffering strained eyes (27%), stiff neck (27%), a sore or aching back (26%), and headaches (25%).

While working from home is placing physical strain on workers and negatively impacting their mental health, most people (89%) are keen to continue working at home in the future; enjoying the greater flexibility (60%). However, most (63%) would feel more motivated and productive if they had a better home working environment.

Ergonomist and physiotherapy expert, Emma Crumpton, says: “Many people have had to make changes to their usual working practices and have set up workstations at home as a response to the Pandemic. These measures are likely to be a feature of working life for the foreseeable future. It is vital for our health and wellbeing, as well as our productivity and job satisfaction that adequate assessment, equipment provision and adjustments to work practices and workstations are made to reflect these changes and reduce associated risks.”

Fellowes Brands is calling for employees’ health and wellbeing to be more of a key focus for the future, as just 29% of senior-level decision makers are considering the introduction of specific guidelines or regulations around home working, welfare or equipment provision, and only 28% will be making a conscious effort to increase focus on employee health and wellbeing.

Renowned Yorkshire Recruitment Specialist, Nigel Brewster, Chief Executive of Brewster Partners Recruitment Group commented: “An employer’s brand value proposition may be well-crafted, but many will be destroyed by simply failing to provide homeworkers with equipment that’s pretty mandatory in the corporate office. We are already seeing this new dimension as employees question just how much their employers and prospective employers REALLY care about their wellbeing and truly value them as a brand asset. In my opinion this will only increase over the coming months.”

The research found respondents’ top requirements for equipment included better back support from their chair (29%), a new chair (27%) and less time spent sitting down (25%). Employers are also resorting to spending their own money on homeworking equipment (65%).

Employers can share with their employees Fellowes Brands’ top tips to help stay healthy while working at home or the office available on the company’s website. Additionally, employees can be encouraged to complete their own home workstation risk assessment found at Fellowes Ergo Test website which can then be shared with a line manager or company HR department.

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