Working from home permanently: the employment law options

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, many law firm staff have been temporarily working remotely. Employment law specialist Rupert Scrase asks: could you close your office permanently, save on rent and have all your employees working from home?
Woman working at desk at home

Will your employees agree to work remotely?

Hopefully, your employees will agree by consent to work from home on a permanent basis. It may be easier to seek agreement if they already been working from home since Covid-19. 

Anecdotally, it seems that many middle-aged employees who are established in their careers may be keener on home working than younger employees just starting out.

Assuming it makes commercial sense, you will then need to consider the legal practicalities. 

Place of work

S.1 Employment Rights Act 1996 (ERA) requires an employer to give employees a written statement of particulars of employment – a Section 1 statement. Normally, this will be in the form of a contract of employment. 

The statutory terms include the place of work. If any terms change, an employer is required under S.4 ERA to issue a written statement of any changes – a Section 4 statement.

The first thing you should do is check your employees’ contracts of employment to see the place of work. In most cases, it will be your office address. 

Mobility clause

You may also have a mobility clause in your employees’ contracts of employment that enables you to determine where the employee can work from.

If there is a mobility clause, you may be able to rely on that clause to require the employee to work from home. 


If there is no mobility clause and you wish to require employees to work from home permanently, it is likely to be a redundancy situation. 

This is because the relevant statutory definition of redundancy refers to the fact that the requirements of the business to carry out work at the place where the employee is employed have ‘ceased or diminished’. For guidance on restructuring and redundancies, see here

If your employees refuse to consent to work from home, you may need to consider going through a redundancy process. As part of the consultation process, you should offer the employee a role based at their home address.

Tactically, consider whether a redundancy process is really the best option for you. It may mean you end up losing key staff and are then unable to serve your clients’ needs. 

Redundancy can also be costly since you will be required to pay notice and a statutory redundancy payment. 

Unless your contracts of employment specify higher notice periods, broadly you are required to give one week’s notice for each year of service up to a maximum of 12 weeks. To calculate a statutory redundancy payment, see here.


If your employees are likely to consent to the move or you can invoke a mobility clause, there are still several issues to consider:

  1. How to comply with regulation 3.5 of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA’s) Code of Conduct regarding supervision and regulation 6.3 regarding confidentiality.
  2. Your data protection obligations under GDPR and your obligation to take measures to prevent accidental loss of data.
  3. Whether employees may feel isolated if they work from home permanently and whether it could affect their mental health.
  4. Carry out a Health and Safety assessment. There is HSE guidance on protecting home workers. In particular, it states that when someone is working from home, you should consider:
    1. how you will keep in touch with them
    2. what work activity will they be doing (and for how long)
    3. whether it can it be done safely
    4. whether you need to put control measures in place to protect them
  5. Consider if any special equipment is needed for employees to carry out their work from home. If any employees have disabilities, you may need to consider reasonable adjustments. 
  6. Check your business insurance to make sure any of your equipment is covered at the employee’s home. Consider asking your employees to check that there is nothing in their mortgage or home insurance that prevents them working from home.
  7. Speak to your insurance broker to make sure your professional indemnity insurer agrees. 
  8. Take advice from your accountant regarding any employment tax implications.
  9. Amend employees’ contracts of employment or issue a Section 4 statement to reflect the new place of work.

Flexible working

It may be that your employees approach you asking to work from home permanently rather than you approaching them. Since April 2024, employees have a day one statutory right to make a request for flexible working for any reason.

The employee can make two requests in any 12-month period. If you plan carefully, you should be able to move staff reasonably easily. If it works, hopefully you will end up with a more profitable business with more motivated staff.

Details of the flexible working rules can be found below.


Views expressed in our blogs are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Law Society.

Flexible working laws are changing

From 6 April 2024, your employees will have the legal right to request permanent changes to their contract from their first day of employment.

If you run a business, you will need to change how you manage flexible working requests.

Employees can request changes to how long, when and where they work from their first day of employment, and will no longer have to explain what impact, if any, their flexible working request would have on your organisation and how it could be overcome.

As an employer, you must manage these requests in a reasonable manner. You can only reject a request for one of eight business reasons.

Prepare for the new flexible working changes

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