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The TUC union and the Acas conciliation service have urged employers to protect the health and safety of staff working at home due to the coronavirus crisis.

Millions of people are working from home for the first time. Employers need to make them aware of health and safety issues that affect home workers. They should work their normal hours if practical, but make sure they take regular breaks. 

Homeworkers do not need formal workwear, although for productivity reasons it is recommended that they dress relatively smartly. Employees need to make sure that homeworkers have equipment that is safe. For example, chairs must be comfortable and at the correct height to avoid back problems. Employees with disabilities must have a safe work environment in which to do their job.

Homeworkers can feel isolated, so they can care for their mental wellbeing by having regular contact with colleagues via Skype, phone and messaging services.

Frances O’Grady, the general secretary of the TUC, said:

“It’s essential for those people who can work from home to do so during the coronavirus outbreak. It’s important to have a safe place to work and to keep in regular contact with colleagues.”

Acas has issued online guidance for homeworkers that includes health and safety advice on how to care for phsyical and mental health at home. This is available on the organization’s website.

The British Safety Council has several courses online that teach how to safely work from home during the coronavirus pandemic. These are available free of charge until mid-April and include modules on physical and mental health.

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