Here are 5 things your business needs to know about its health and safety obligations to employees working from home:
- Employer obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW) continue irrespective of whether an employee works at the office or remotely.
- This means employers must ensure employees have a physically safe space to work. In a work from home scenario employers could conduct individual consultations with employees about their work setup, inspect it via video link and suggest improvements, or provide employees with checklists they must satisfy.
- Employers also need to ensure employees have the necessary equipment such as desks, monitors, ergonomic office chairs etc, as far as is reasonably practical. Employers might do so by again through video link inspections or other individual consultation with employees.
- Similarly, employers need to continue to provide employees training on unfamiliar programs, tools, applications or computer functions. This training could be provided through video conference or other digital methods, but the important point is that employers need to be aware of the continuance of this obligation.
- Perhaps most importantly, employers ought to be aware that working from home can place added strain on employees’ mental health due to social isolation, loneliness or the combining of work and home pressures. Generally, employers are required to provide adequate facilities for the welfare of employees at work and must monitor their health for the purpose of preventing injury or illness. In the work from home context, this might mean employers regularly communicate with employees, ensure they are included in company social events/activities, and ensure they have access to mental health support services like Employee Assistance Programs.