As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to impact upon all businesses in Australia, many employees across the nation are working remotely from home.
For many businesses, staff working remotely is viable and means that the business continues to operate during these testing times.
There are a number of important factors an employer needs to consider when staff are working remotely away from the office / workshop.
Health and Safety Obligations
Even though your employees are not in the office, the work health and safety laws still apply if an employee is working remotely from home.
The overarching legal obligation placed on an employer is a duty to provide a safe working environment for your employees without risks to their health and safety and the health and safety of others.
Employees should be reminded that the same work health and safety requirements they observe in the office should be observed while working from home. A few points to remind employees about when working from home includes ensuring:
- there is adequate lighting, air flow and no excessive noise;
- they are not working in a hazardous or dangerous location;
- they have all the necessary equipment to complete their job tasks effectively;
- they have adequate ancillary equipment, such as an ergonomic chair and desk to work from; and
- they have clear guidelines for how many hours they are required to work in a day, and they are reminded they are to take usual breaks.
Employers should have a work health and safety checklist that employees be directed to adhere to when working away from the office.
Even though your employees may be working from home, generally they are obligated under their employment contract to fulfil their duties to the best of their ability and devote working hours (for which they are paid) to work.
Many businesses are worried about a drop in productivity because staff are working from home.
To keep productivity up, employers should ensure regular contact with employees whilst they are working from home with clear communication and support – that will allow employers to keep track of their employees’ productivity whilst they are working remotely.
If you are considering having your employees working remotely, or currently have staff working from home and wish to discuss that arrangement, please do not hesitate to contact Aaran Johnson on firstname.lastname@example.org or Simon Kumar on email@example.com or by phoning 02 4626 5077 to discuss your business’ needs.
The contents of this publication are for reference purposes only. This publication does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Specific legal advice should always be sought separately before taking any action based on this publication.