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WORKING FROM HOME – EMPLOYER OBLIGATION:

In light of the Victorian Government announcing stay at home orders, HR Ambassador is reminding our valued clients and all Employers of their obligations when staff are required to work from home.

The WHS laws still apply if employees work outside of their usual place of work. The Employer has a duty of care to ensure the health and safety of their staff, even if they are working from home.

When conducting this review, businesses should contemplate an employees ability to work from home safely, and what reasonable steps and measures are needed, if any, to reduce the risk of harm to employees.

In order to achieve this goal, employers are reminded to undertake a working from home risk assessment to ensure employees have a safe place to perform their work at home. It is important to remember that the home office is considered the workplace for the purpose of the employer’s liability.

Below are some recommendations as to what an employer can do to minimise risks at a worker’s home.

  • Consider granting employees the option to borrow any necessary workstation equipment (within reason) and provide advice on what is a good workstation set up and good ergonomic practice.
  • Provide access to an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) with information and support for mental health and wellbeing services.
  • You must also think about, and consult your workers, on how your existing policies and procedures apply when working from home, including notification of incidents, injuries, hazards and changes in circumstances
  • Communication with co-workers and management daily is important

If necessary, employers may consult workers for an inspection of the employees home work environment to ensure it meets health and safety requirements. This can be completed through virtual means for instance photos or video or a physical inspection may be considered. In many cases, given the types of risks associated with the activities to be undertaken, an inspection will not be required.

Depending on the complexity of the potential risks involved, you may need to engage the services of a health and safety professional to assess the risks to an employee working from home.

By Andre Elcham 9/07/2020

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