Working from Home during COVID-19 (Coronavirus):
In light of the global Covic-19 pandemic we find ourselves in, many businesses are forced to adopt various measures to keep afloat and workers employed. One of the more sensible options is to let employees work from home while trying to self-isolate themselves from the rest of society. We understand that this will not be a solution for all employers however.
Regardless of whether your employee is working from home during this pandemic episode or when the dust settles after, there are a few things an employer should consider regarding such arrangements.
First, while it is possible to come to an agreement and allow employees to work from home, you may be exposing the business to legal complications later on, particularly if you do not have a policy and systems in place governing the work-from-home arrangement.
Policies should start with outlining how an application by an employee to work from home will be processed and if approved, the underlying principles around working from home.
It is important to remember that not every employee can or should be working from home. Factors that need to be considered before allowing an employee to work from home include, but are not limited to:
If the employee is approved to work from home, you should consider how communication between the employee and his or her manager should take place, how often and what platform to use. The manager should also retain a right to request the employee to attend any staff meetings in person if that meeting involves that employee.
Health and Safety
It is very important for your business that you consider any safety and health issues concerning an employee working from home because as the employer, you still have a duty of care to your employees even when they’re working offsite.
You will need to ensure that your employee’s work site at home is clearly identified and segregated within the home. All work related activities should conform to the requirements of any health and safety legislation as well as the employer’s normal policies.
It is also important that you consider when an inspection of the home site is to be conducted to ensure the above, and how often this inspection will take place. Should the inspections not be acceptable to the employee, you will need to consider amending the arrangement or terminating the work from home arrangement.
Security and Confidentiality
Next, if your employee deals with sensitive or confidential information, it is imperative that he or she has appropriate anti-virus controls and firewalls in place as well as other security measures for any physical equipment or information belonging to the employer or client s of the business.
Review and Termination
Another important consideration is when will this work-from-home arrangement be reviewed and what standards are to be followed in making an assessment? If the arrangement is to be terminated, what steps are required to re-introduce the employee back to the usual workspace and will there be changes applied to any process or even to the nature of the work?
This article only covers a few brief things to consider concerning employees working from home.
If you do not have a policy to address the issues mentioned above, it is better late than never. Remember, any policy and its contents will differ from business to business. Using a standard template form for a working from home policy will rarely be as effective as engaging a professional to draw or review your policy. A good working from home policy establishes guidelines, boundaries and expectancies from your employees should they work from home and may assist in safeguarding the legal position of your business.
If you prefer to draft your own working from home policy, Bailiwick Legal has a checklist of things to consider you can download HERE.
If you would like assistance generally in employment matters, please contact us on (08) 9321 5451 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org. For further information about our legal services, please visit our website: https://www.bailiwicklegal.com.au/
The above information is a summary and overview of the matters discussed. This publication does not constitute legal advice and you should seek legal or other professional advice before acting or relying on any of the content.