Branch Secretary :

Working from home: who pays?


Working from home is becoming increasingly common in the housing sector and a recent Guardian article ‘Should your employer pay your bills if you work from home’ raises important questions. Branch secretary Suzanne Muna takes up the story at her workplace below. What do you think? Let us know your experiences and ideas.




At the Regulator of Social Housing our homeworkers get a measly allowance of £3 per week as this is the limit before it becomes taxable. When you think of the cost of energy bills alone, that amount is pathetic. Given that by working from home we're actually saving government money, since government is our employer, they should be giving us much more. Many Whitehall offices are PFI so the cost of 'renting' a desk is apparently around £7k - and we get £3 a week toward heating costs.



On the other stuff - equipment, health and safety checks, etc. - we are pretty good at the RSH. 



Homes England are much more resistant. They fear that workers shirk more if they work from home, whereas all comparisons actually show the opposite. Productivity goes up. Also, our homeworkers consistently record lower sickness levels. They may feel well enough to work, or work at least part of the day, but it's actually the commute that's the problem, either standing on a packed train, driving a car, or riding a bike. Therefore while office based colleagues would need to take a day off, homeworkers are able to log in.


Positive impact


The positive impact on work-life balance is well documented, and makes for happier, healthier employees. There is therefore great value to the employer in reduced costs and increased productivity, but they must recognise and compensate workers for the use of their personal space to carry out the employer's business.


Through Unite, we have (of course) consistently and successfully defended protections, safeguards, and compensation for homeworkers. This is precisely why you need a trade union, and preferably Unite.



The TUC has produced this resource on homeworking.


21 January 2020


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