Equalities and working from home

Last updated: 03 Dec 2020

Employers must continue to take account of the Equality Act 2010 when staff are working from home. Those with protected characteristics are often treated unfairly, and have been harder hit by the health and economic impacts of the pandemic.

Disability discrimination

The government has extended the Access to Work scheme to provide more financial support to disabled people working from home during the pandemic.

The employer may have additional duties to make reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act – for example, by ensuring the employee has the ability to continue working from home, adjusting hours, or changing duties. It would be unlawful discrimination if employers were to try and avoid their responsibilities to provide reasonable adjustments by targeting disabled workers for furlough or redundancy.

Sex discrimination

Women were already taking on the majority of domestic care, whether for children or elderly dependants but now there are additional pressures to do so, such as homeschooling, less help from friends and family and reduced childcare services. According to the TUC, 90% of working mothers have said that they have taken on more childcare responsibilities since the pandemic began.

Race discrimination

According to a TUC survey, BAME people working from home have reported that they are not receiving the support they need and that they are facing higher levels of surveillance and scrutiny.

Others have reported that they’ve been asked to do more work than would have been expected in the office.

It is therefore very important that employers are reminded to continue equalities monitoring across the whole employment process, including home or remote working, and address the inequalities faced by BAME workers.

For more information on this, members can download our full guide to homeworking.

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