Be prepared if you decide to adopt a working from home policy

There seems little doubt now that the working from home phenomenon has become established.

With a laptop, a phone and an internet connection, many tasks can be performed as adequately as in an office.

While returning to the office is a must for many, the rail strike has shown that this kind of flexibility can keep the wheels of industry in the UK turning, when businesses are disrupted.

Usually this takes a hybrid form with a few days in the office and a couple working from home, or vice versa.

Will there be tax breaks available?

So, it seems sensible that both employers and members of staff take full advantage of any tax breaks or allowances available for those not in the office.

For employees, the work-from-home relief was available from 6 April 2022 onwards only if your employer specifically required you to work from home – for example, to stop the spread of Covid or because your job had been “relocated” and was now contractually regarded 100 per cent as a home-working role.

For basic-rate taxpayers, the relief was worth 20 per cent of the £6: £1.20 a week. Higher-rate taxpayers could claim 40 per cent of the £6: £2.40 a week.

Over the course of the year, this meant people could reduce the tax they paid by £62.40 or £124.80 respectively.

For employers, relief may be available on

  • Reimbursement by employers for additional household expenses
  • Provision of office equipment by employers
  • Provision of computers for private use by employers
  • Travel for necessary attendance

Your accountant will be able to advise on these matters.

Once established its then important to make the sure the office has adequate health and safety provisions, including a possible risk assessment which might concentrate on:

  • Monitoring stress and poor mental health and their effects on productivity
  • Making sure equipment like computers and laptops are used safely
  • Discussing their working environment

While working from home is relatively low risk, employers should talk to workers about their arrangements and once established concentrate on areas like:

Office furniture in the home: This could cover the likes of a work desk and ergonomic chair, keyboard, and mouse. You might, even now in the paperless age, find the need for a filing cabinet.

Using the right technology: The modern laptop is an extremely powerful piece of equipment that operates at speed and can operate any number of cloud-based apps. A steam-age laptop will defeat the object.

The employer may supply the equipment which should include a phone, and a decent-sized screen, together with video conferencing software and if possible, speech recognition.

A secure and rapid internet connection

Upgrading your internet connection is also important, given that losing contact with key clients or members of the team at the wrong moment could be very costly.

For help and advice on working from home and related tax matters, please contact our expert team.

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