Implications of the UK Equality Law for tele-homeworking: COVID-19 and beyond

Vandana Nath, Graeme Lockwood*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
489 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to examine the practical and legal complexities associated with tele-homeworking in the context of the UK Equality Law. First, the paper provides a background to the recent growth of tele-homeworking as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, outlining the tenets of the UK Equality Act 2010 and referring to additional legislation pertinent to the ensuing discussion. Second, illustrative case law relevant to the UK Equality Law is put forward to demonstrate the potential challenges that employers and employees might encounter with continued and longer-term tele-homeworking arrangements. Third, the paper outlines implications for employers and human resource managers in terms of policies and practices that might shape the nature of the employment relationship. Design/methodology/approach: This study is based on a review of the literature and an examination of UK case law applicable to tele-homeworking, taking into consideration equality, diversity and inclusion concerns in the workplace. Findings: Remote working can be beneficial to both employers and employees. However, there are a number of significant concerns surrounding the management of tele-homeworkers in the aftermath of the pandemic that can act as a stimulus for legal disputes around discrimination, infringement of human rights and breach of contract claims. Several policy implications surface from the analysis that relate to equality and fair treatment associated with both current and future work arrangements. Originality/value: The paper is significant in offering legal insights into how the UK Equality Law relates to the complexities associated with the management of tele-homeworkers. The study also highlights how return-to-office undertakings might need to consider wider legal issues. COVID-19 and its repercussions have demanded the reorganisation of work, which can give rise to a greater possibility of legal challenges and the study highlights the importance of employers undertaking an evaluation of their equality practices and complying with the legal framework.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Law and Management
Early online date6 Oct 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Oct 2021

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Discrimination
  • Employee rights
  • Equality law
  • Labour law
  • Labour rights

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