Safety Services


Risk assessment for homeworking during COVID-19

A homeworking risk assessment must be completed if you continue to work from home for at least 3 days a week for an indefinite period of time.

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Homeworking is simply doing your job from home as your main place of work, rather than on UCL campus. This applies to staff working full-time or part-time at home, those dividing their time between home and the campus, and mobile workers who use their home as an administrative base. It is a type of flexible working that can also be carried out in conjunction with other arrangements such as flexible hours, working part-time and term-time working.

COVID-19 adaptations

As UCL reopens, some staff will be asked to spend more time on campus while others will continue to be asked to work at home. To determine who can return to work and who must continue to work from home, UCL has published a framework for staff to identify with particular risk groups through an individual health assessment

As staff are still asked to work from home if it is possible for them to do so, homeworking is no longer a temporary measure. 

For those that have discussed their situation with their line managers and for whom it has been determined that they should continue to work from home for at least 3 days a week for an indefinite period of time, a homeworking risk assessment must be completed.

Roles and responsibilities

Head of Department

  • Defining the operational priorities for the department
  • Selecting who is prioritised to return at what stage within the individual health assessment system
  • Communication of the priorities and new arrangements must be shared with all staff who return to work

Line Managers and Supervisors

  • For those who are asked to work from home for at least 3 days a week for an indefinite period of time according to government, UCL or Departmental priorities, ensure that risk assessments are in place
  • Supporting staff in their DSE homeworking risk assessment
  • Evaluate and review homeworking arrangements on a regular basis to respond to changes in the pandemic, government and UCL policy and employee personal circumstances
  • Prevent staff being isolated, disconnected or abandoned and ensure they are connected to management and peers through contact and work projects
  • Any personal information disclosed by staff must be kept confidential

Members of staff

  • Those asked to make home their main place of work must read the home working risk assessment and complete the homeworking checklist providing details of their personal homeworking circumstances
  • Co-operate with the departmental policies and arrangements for safe homeworking and, where appropriate, familiarise themselves with the new departmental arrangements, risk assessments and induction procedures for visiting campus, including the Return to UCL Induction, the Fire Safety online training and fire safety induction form TN086, even if this is not their main place of work

Homeworking risk assessment

A generic risk assessment (subject to further update) covering key risks associated with homeworking is available through riskNET - search for RA036168 – Title: General UCL Risk Assessment for Homeworking as the Main Place of Work.  By its nature it is very general and not specific and is made specific by attaching the Homeworker's Checklist completed by managers and individuals to the risk assessment.

> riskNET (UCL login required)

Tutorial: Accessing and creating homeworking risk assessment

The homeworking risk assessment must be read and the homeworker’s checklist completed by the homeworker. After reading the homeworker’s checklist completed by an employee, the line manager must review it alongside the employee and make appropriate arrangements with homeworking staff. They must ensure that the employee is aware of expectations and the required standard of work within any flexibility agreed. Once the homeworker’s checklist is agreed and signed, the homeworker’s risk assessment with attached checklist must be submitted and then approved by the line manager.

> Download the Homeworker's Checklist

Homeworker's responsibility

It is the homeworker’s responsibility to assess their personal circumstances of homeworking with respect to home insurance, mortgage provision, landlord agreements, tax or other legal restrictions, such as a restrictive covenant. Staff should ensure there are no implications for their particular situation.

No contribution will be made by UCL towards normal household expenses attached to homeworking, such as heating, lighting or internet connectivity. When an employee is working at home, journeys made to the normal office base will not be reimbursed.

Homeworkers must abide by the requirements of the risk assessment. It is particularly important for homeworkers to facilitate communication with UCL as appropriate, to deliver the expected work outcomes and understand their own responsibilities regarding health and safety, data security and confidentiality.

Homeworkers must:

  • Read the homeworking risk assessment and be familiar with the content
  • Complete the homeworker’s checklist that describes the personal circumstances for an individual to work from home. Do not enter any personal information on the checklist or risk assessment, such as a home address, personal contact phone numbers or health condition. There is no requirement to disclose personal health status to line management
  • Discuss the suitability for working from home with your line manager
  • Ensure the completed checklist, signed by the line manager, is attached to the revised risk assessment and get your line manager to approve it
  • Homeworkers must abide by the requirements of the risk assessment. It is particularly important for homeworkers to facilitate communication with UCL as appropriate, to deliver the expected work outcomes and understand their own responsibilities regarding health and safety, data security and confidentiality

Line manager's responsibility

UCL and departmental measures to adapt working practices to ensure a COVID-19 secure workplace may result in the re-organisation of workspace within the buildings and changes in availability and capacity of office space. Initial measures have meant office space might be redeployed for activities that are business-critical and cannot be achieved at home.

When assessing risks to the homeworker, managers must pay attention to the following:

  • Homeworkers who are new and expectant mothers, as risks include those to the child (see HSE guidance on new and expectant mothers who work)
  • Homeworkers who may have childcare or caring responsibilities and for whom flexibility in working arrangements are required for them to achieve their potential for UCL
  • Homeworkers who are early career staff may not have facilities at home to work effectively and may need to be prioritised to return to work
  • Homeworkers under difficult situations at home, such as stress and risks to their wellbeing, those with work life balance issues or at risk of domestic abuse or violence, can be prioritised to return
  • The time of travel to work and reliance on public transport where the risks of societal transmission of COVID-19 are highest
  • The extent to which teaching staff can work remotely and provide the necessary student support

Who can return?

Staff may self-identify with the options published by UCL. There is no requirement for anyone to disclose any underlying or other health conditions and if staff choose to do so for the benefit of assisting in the phased return to work, that information is confidential. Disagreements and misunderstandings can be resolved through support from Workplace Health or Student Support and Wellbeing.

Staff who are asked to work from home as their main place of work must complete a DSE risk assessment. Results will be returned to line managers. Line managers must attempt to resolve DSE issues but if further support is needed, departmental DSE assessors can offer assistance and medical issues must be referred to Workplace Health.

> Information on the line manager's role in the DSE process
Guidance for home workers and line managers during COVID-19 remote working
> Keeping safe on campus

Last updated: Friday, September 17, 2021