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Clackmannanshire Council Online

Working From Home

Working From Home

Home Working and IT equipment

At the start of the pandemic and lockdown the IT Service was asked to facilitate large scale remote working as quickly as possible.

While every effort was made to provide new laptops for individuals to use, with high numbers of requests and significant waiting times for new stock to be delivered, we have had to prioritise requests for remote working in critical service areas. 

Since March the IT service has deployed almost 500 new laptops and in addition, enabled existing office equipment to be used at home, connecting a significant number of our staff to our Citrix environment. More laptops are awaiting delivery to progress further rollout.

Due to a number of factors including delivery times of new devices IT staff are converting the existing equipment currently on our desks for remote working and these continue to be rolled out.

Remote working options

The list of available remote working options and equipment can be found by following the link along with the process to follow and forms to complete in order to have a remote working solution allocated to a member of staff. You will need to open this link in Chrome.

While making a request for remote working equipment it is important for the manager making the request to tell IT Services

  • which of the available options they think would meet the needs of the individual staff member,
  • the contact details for that individual member of staff (specifically a home email address and phone number),
  • what equipment the staff member already has access too (and is willing to use) and
  • what sort of work the staff member will be performing that may need the use of IT equipment.

Further consideration is also required for any adaptive equipment that is currently provided and how that will need to operate within a home environment.

So for example:

A staff member who only requires access to Citrix and to email can use any device we have available.

If the staff member needs a device to access Microsoft Teams for video conferencing then they need a new laptop or they will need an additional device like a webcam to use with a PC or an iPad/smartphone on which to run the Teams app.

If a staff member spends a lot of time on the phone, for example a contact centre agent, then they may need a PC or a laptop with a software phone and a headset. (This works just like the fixed telephone on the desk in the office but it is enabled on the computer).

The more information we have on what the staff member will be doing with their equipment, the better we will be able to assess the requirement and provide guidance to the manager.

Working from home safely

Working From Home Sitting Tips

The normal expectation is that a full Display Screen Equipment (DSE) assessment should be undertaken for every employee who is working from home but due to the speed at which this was required to happen, this was not possible.  

Our Health and Safety Team have devised a self assessment form which should be completed by staff working at home. You can access the form here. The completed form should be submitted to hands@clacks.gov.uk.

Things to consider when working from home:

  • Laptops are not designed for long term use on a daily basis. If a member of staff will be working all day on a laptop then they will also need a full size keyboard and mouse as well as a monitor to avoid developing issues with the wrists, neck and back. 
  • Similarly, setting up a Wyse terminal or PC in a household will eliminate the health issues that can be caused by stooping over a laptop for several hours a day. However remember these items need more desk space and can cause tripping hazards if cables are not kept tidy and away from walk ways etc.
  • When considering what equipment is available for a member of staff, a manager should always ensure that it can be used safely in the home of the staff member.

Further guidance and tips on working safely at home can be found at the links below: 

Cloud based software applications

There are several key software systems in use at Clackmannanshire Council that are cloud based and so could be accessed by a member of staff on their own personal equipment as long as they have an active internet connection at home. The member of staff would need to agree to use their own equipment. However, this would allow some tasks to be performed at home while waiting for remote working equipment to be provided.

iTrent instructions for requesting and authorising annual/special leave

Instructions for requesting and authorising annual/special leave is available by following the link.

e: itrent@clacks.gov.uk

Working at home - tax relief

Employees will be aware that they may be able to claim tax relief for additional household costs if they have to work at home on a regular basis, either for all or part of the week. This includes having to work from home because of Coronavirus.

Additional costs include things like heating and electricity. They do not include costs that would stay the same whether you were working at home or not such as rent or council tax.

HMRC have recently announced that the process of claiming tax relief has been made simpler with a new online portal launched on 1 October.

How to claim

Go to GOV.UK tax relief for employees page to check you are eligible to claim.

You will need to create, if you do not already have one, a government gateway user ID and password. You can create a user ID easily if you have your NI number and a recent payslip or P60 or a valid UK passport. This is secure and ensures you will receive your full allowance.

HMRC has confirmed that each claim will be subject to approval and, once successful, the online portal will automatically adjust your tax code for the 2020/21 tax year.  Employees will receive tax relief directly through their salary for the remainder of the tax year.

How much can you claim

You can either claim tax relief on

  • £6 a week from 6 April 2020 (for previous tax years the rate was £4 a week)
    • you will not need to keep evidence of your extra costs.
  • the exact amount of extra costs you have incurred above the weekly amount
    • you'll need evidence such as receipts, bills or contracts.

You will get tax relief on the rate at which you pay tax. For example, if you pay tax at 20% basic rate of tax and claim tax relief on £6 a week you would get £1.20 per week in tax relief (20% of £6).

This concession will only apply for the current tax year and any homeworking claims will not automatically be rolled over into the new tax year. If staff continue to work from home in the next tax year, further claims will need to be submitted.

 

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