What legal obligations apply when employees work from home?
Engaging workers remotely that work from home is becoming increasingly common and can have great benefits for both parties.
Long hours of commuting become obsolete and restrictions of when the work is undertaken are removed. This gives employers an avenue to keep valuable staff happy by being flexible.
Employers have a duty of care to ensure the health and safety of their workers, regardless of where they work. Just the same as any workplace, you have a legal obligation to make sure their home-office environment is safe. In other words, you must complete a risk assessment of the workplace, identify hazards and implement controls before you allow employees to work in that space. Lack of supervision, potential security issues, trips, slips and falls are common factors that may elevate the risk.
What should employers have in place?
- Having clear policies and procedures around working from home is a must, particularly with a low amount of supervision. Written instructions on how to set up the work area ergonomically, security procedures and how to report incidents should be a priority.
- Insurances. Your liability in respect of workers compensation claims extend to employees working from home. You could be liable for employees having an accident while cooking in their own kitchen or simply walking around their own house. You should also make sure that your business insurances cover any company property and you also need your public liability insurance to cover customers who may be injured at your employee’s home as a result of any business activities. You should also make sure that your employees’ own home and contents policies are current.
- Establish a system of regular contact and make sure you check in with your employee from time to time. Even if only to ask “are you OK?”. This will give your people a chance to raise any issues.
- A Safety checklist: A good first step in ensuring that a home office is safe is to complete a safety checklist. Also ensure to review the checklist on a regular basis
Here is a link to our free safety check-list when you are planning to have employees working from home. Completing a checklist like this is a good step towards ensuring that a home office is a safe place to work…
For more information or to discuss our HR & WHS services contact Mats Erikksson on 07 4050 3888