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What to consider when creating your Primary Care Network Remote Working Policy

Updated: Apr 4

As an employer and a PCN Manager, I have first-hand experience managing a remote workforce. While a lot of trust is required to enable remote working, we use policies to provide clear expectations of what is needed and required.


In this week's blog, we are looking at the areas for consideration when creating your remote working policy.


Disclaimer: When it comes to HR matters, we always advise seeking expert professional advice from an HR specialist.

This blog is simply sharing our approach.


Let's jump in!





What is the aim of a remote working policy?


A remote working policy aims to provide as much clarity as possible to ensure the employer or contracted member of staff understands what's expected of them when working remotely, and this policy should sit alongside;

  • Terms and conditions of employment or the service specification

  • A data protection policy

  • A performance management policy

  • Data protection and confidentiality policy

  • Disciplinary policy


What is Remote Working?


Remote working is a work arrangement that permits an employee to conduct all or some of their work at an approved alternative worksite such as the home or in an office space near the employee’s home.


It is a working style that allows PCN staff and contractors to work outside a traditional office environment. It is based on the concept that work does not need to be done in a specific place to be executed successfully.


To whom does this policy apply?


This is for you to decide. In the interest of fairness and transparency, you may wish for your policy to apply to all PCN employees and providers of PCN staff.

However, it is at the PCN and Practice’s discretion to decide whether the employee is eligible for remote working.

Any Remote Working arrangements should be agreed upon and approved

BEFORE any remote working takes place.


What about equipment?


Typically, the line manager will discuss and agree with the employee or contractor before commencing remote working what equipment and IT requirements will be needed to enable the individual to work effectively from home.

Please ensure you have everything in place, or this could result in your worker not having the equipment to start work.

In most cases, any equipment necessary will be provided by the PCN, who will bear the total cost of delivery and installation, and the equipment will remain the property of the PCN at all times.

If you are using a contracted service, they may provide their own equipment. You will need to seek clarity on this point.


In the event of PCN equipment malfunctioning or inoperability, it is typically the responsibility of the employee, provider or contractor to organise for repair or substitution in partnership with the PCN.

With regard to the equipment, the remote worker will be typically expected to:

  • Take reasonable care of the equipment, and the equipment should be left in a safe and secure place at all times

  • Take all reasonable steps to minimise the risk of theft or damage to PCN property and paperwork

  • Use PCN equipment only for work purposes

  • Comply with software licensing terms and conditions

  • Return equipment at the end of the remote working arrangement.

  • Only use the software provided by the PCN

  • Report faults pertaining to equipment immediately.

A PCN should also expect that no alterations are made to PCN equipment without consent from the PCN.


The line manager would also need to approve user requests for upgrades of hardware or software usually sourced via the ICB IT team.


Misuse of Network Equipment and Time


It’s reasonable for;

  • The PCN to review the usage of PCN equipment or time

  • The PCN is to treat any misuse of equipment or time by the PCN disciplinary policy, performance management, Data Protection and Social Media Policy, etc....

  • The remote worker is to be liable at all times for the equipment provided by the PCN

  • The PCN is to decide whether the value of the equipment shall be deducted from the user’s wages or pay if the equipment becomes damaged, goes missing or is not returned

If any wrong doing were to occur, this would need to be managed in alignment with either your;

  • Terms and conditions of employment or service

  • A data protection policy

  • A performance management policy

  • Data protection and confidentiality policy

  • Disciplinary policy

You would need to decide whichever is appropriate.


Do you ever want to see your worker in person?


Depending on the culture you are trying to build in your network will depend on whether you actually ever want to meet your employee in person.

At THC, we believe in-person meeting is important, and twice a month, THC employees and contractors are required to come into the office to work.


This requirement is made clear at the interview, and we often review this.

This requirement to come into the office has limited the pool of people that can potentially work for us, and we are okay with this.

All of our PCN clients are happy for us to work remotely, with us attending only a few meetings in person.

As a network, you will need to consider

  • The availability of space

  • Your location and how easy it is to attract staff with the skills and experience you are looking for

  • How you plan or what’s in place to make staff feel part of the team whilst working remotely. At THC, we are big fans of Microsoft of Teams and WhatsApp groups, the use of newsletters, in person PLT sessions, regular team meetings and regular 1-2-1s.

  • The standard operating procedures they will need to work to ensure workers are performing to the required standard.

Terms and conditions


The underpinning principle is that remote-working employees should be no worse off than office-based employees when conducting their work.


Remote workers should be required to attend all appropriate training courses in the same way as office-based employees.


Remote working employees will maintain their current terms and conditions of employment apart from their designated place of work.


Before commencing remote working, the employee and line manager should agree on the working pattern of the employee and the times they will be available for contact.


If either party request the remote working arrangements to end, a reasonable period of notice (a minimum of one month) should be given and agreed to allow both parties time to consider and plan alternative arrangements.


A final few words





We hope this helps!

 

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I'm Tara; I am the founder of THC Primary Care, an award-winning healthcare consultancy specialising in Primary Care Network Management and the host of the Business of Healthcare Podcast, where we have now published over 200 episodes. I have over 20 years of project management and business development experience across the private and public sectors, and I have supported over 50 PCNs by providing interim management, training and consultancy. I have managed teams across multiple sites and countries; I have an MBA in Leadership and Management in Healthcare, I'm published in the London Journal of Primary Care, and I am the author of over 250 blogs. I have 3 children. My eldest has Asthma, my middle child has a kidney condition called Nephrotic Syndrome, and my youngest daughter has Type 1 Diabetes, so outside of work, healthcare plays a huge role in my life.

 






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