Employment law specialist Marianne McJannett, from Bellwether Green, has written a helpful summary of what the UK Government’s review of hybrid working will consider, and where this might have implications for employers.
Last month, the Government’s Office of Tax Simplification launched a review into various issues faced by businesses and individuals as a result of the ever-increasing hybrid and flexible working models.
While it might be surprising that a review is only taking place now, almost three years into the change in working practices, it will also raise important points for businesses.
Hybrid working is fast becoming the norm for many employees. Before the pandemic, only around 5% of the UK workforce worked mainly from home, and 65% of employers either did not offer regular working from home at all or offered it to 10% or less of their workforce. But by July 2022, ONS figures showed that between October-December 2019 and January-March 2022, homeworking in the UK more than doubled, from 4.7 million to 9.9 million people. Therefore, some new issues have been brought to the fore as a result of the changing landscape of working, and the Government has realised this with its latest consultation.
Some of the key issues the review will cover, and ultimately what employers should be considering for the flexible workforce, are:
- Working across international borders, and what that means for things like tax, social security, tax residence, and permanent establishment
- How accommodation, travel, and other expenses work in a hybrid world, including who will pay and whether permanent workplace rules make sense
- Application of short-term business visitor rules, overseas workday relief, and modified payroll
- The treatment and impact on pension contributions and share schemes
- The risks or otherwise of creating permanent establishments or even changing corporate residence
The review will also consider whether the current tax and social security rules are flexible enough to cope, and what businesses, advisors and other bodies are experiencing as new ways of working become business as usual.
While we await the outcome of this consultation, it is important that businesses start thinking about these issues, and whether they have the appropriate advisers and processes in place to support them if they have to make any changes to existing agreements moving forward.