Working from Home - WHS Tips
The harmonised WHS legislation that was introduced a couple of years ago brought about significant change in some States of Australia. The new legislation required business owners, managers and responsible officers (or PCBU’s) to adjust and ensure that they are managing health and safety proactively and directly.
You must remember that you have a duty of care to all employees who work for you - regardless of where that work is undertaken.
1. Determine if the employee's role is suitable to do from home
Before you agree to an employee working from home make sure that their job is suited to working from a home office.
2. How will you be able to effectively assess the employee's performance
If an employee is working from home, it will be much more difficult for you to assess how they are performing so establish the tasks, communication processes, outcomes and targets so that everyone is clear about expectations.
It may be in your interests to have an agreement with the employee that they send you through weekly or monthly reports on their progress.
3. Will they have the information and training necessary to do their work safely
Make sure that the employee is familiar with safe working procedures in regards to the equipment they are using.
They may need more comprehensive training as they will have less supervision.
4. Have days, hours and duties in writing and signed by the employer and employee
Establish the specific days, hours and duties within a written agreement and position description with a clear agreement of processes where the business needs may change and the employee may no longer be able to work from home.
This is important for workers compensation purposes as the employee is generally able to claim for any injury or illness occurring whether the injury occurred while the person was working from home or in the business workplace.
5. Monitor the effect of the employee having minimal contact with others on the employee
Make sure from a health and electrical safety perspective that you monitor employees so they don't feel isolated or ignored.
Have a regular communication schedule between the employee and other staff members and make sure that they are invited to team meetings. It is often very easy to leave out people that are not within the office.
If any of your employees work from home on a regular basis, you have an obligation to make sure their home office environment is safe. In other words, you should carry out a full health and safety check of any home office before you allow employees to work there.
Stay tuned for early next week: The ‘work from home’ checklist! What you need to ensure both you and your home based employees are safe.
Courtesy of Centre for Tasmanian Industry