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UpdatesAug 12, 2011

7 obligations to employees who work from home

You have a duty of care to all employees who work for you – regardless of where that work is undertaken.

By Joanna Weekes

Working from home is a concern for many employers across Australia, I mean, how can you control your employee’s home environment?

BUT you must remember that you have a duty of care to all employees who work for you – regardless of where that work is undertaken.

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 will need to carry out a full health and safety check and risk assessment of any home office before you allow employees to work there.

Having employees work from home can have great benefits for both you and your employees. The employee can fulfil their family obligations by not having to worry about long, time-consuming commutes or childcare, and it gives you an avenue to keep valuable staff happy and retain their services by being flexible.

Never take the step of allowing your employees to work from home lightly

Check out the Question & Answer below which stipulates what your responsibilities are as an employer with employees who sometimes or always work from home.

Your last chance to get involved…

As I have mentioned in the past couple of weeks, there are a couple of great opportunities coming up at the end of August to attend the not-to-miss management training sessions being put on by some of Australia’s top IR and OHS experts.

Click on the following links to find out about what you can learn at the training days and why you really shouldn’t miss them!

OHS Training Day – Tuesday 23 August 2011

AND

IR Training Day – Tuesday 30 August 2011


Q&A – Working from Home

Question:

Who is responsible for ensuring the safety of the workplace for workers who work from home? Is the entire home considered to be the workplace? Does the employer need to conduct checks?
Would it be easier for the employer if the employee were to obtain an ABN and operate as a contractor?

Answer:

If the business permits an employee to work from home, it has the same general duty to provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risk to health as it would if the employee was working at the usual premises.

Under the Victorian Occupational Health and Safety Act, a ‘workplace’ means a place where employees work. This means that the areas of the home where the employee performs their employment duties are considered as forming part of the workplace.

Your 7 OHS obligations for employees who work from home

1.  To ensure there is a safe working environment.

2.  Providing and maintaining equipment and systems of work that are safe and without risk to health (e.g. appropriate office furniture, lighting, ventilation, etc).

3.  To identify hazards, assess the hazards and provide appropriate control within the workplace (e.g. home workplaces often include toys on the floor, protruding objects, dogs and children etc).

4.  To establish communication and appropriate employee conditions (e.g. agreed hours of work).

5.  To provide the information, instruction, training and supervision necessary to ensure health and safety at work (e.g. employees working excessive hours without breaks, fatigue, lapses in safe procedures).

6.  To ensure the safe use, handling, storage and transportation of equipment and substances (e.g. storage of chemicals in the house used for printing, cleaning, etc. posing risk to children if not appropriately secured, sharp objects used by tradespeople).

7.  To take reasonable care for the health and safety of people who attend the home work environment of the employee (e.g. children, neighbours and other visitors).

Don’t miss the bulletin next week because I am going to give you a great checklist that you must complete before you allow an employee to work from home.

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