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Working from home? What is the employer's responsibility?

Posted in Management @ Jul 9th 2011 3:28pm - By Judy Gillespie
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Do you remember the post a couple of weeks ago: 'Telstra ordered to pay home-based worker's injury costs'?

Well I went to the Queensland Workplace Health & Safety Website & sent them an email requesting some information on employer's obligation to workers who work from home, and this is the response they sent:

Thank you for your email regarding employees working from home. Under the Workplace Health and Safety Act, employers must ensure the workplace health and safety of each of the employer's workers at work (including those who work from home). A worker must comply with the employer's requirements to ensure his/her workplace health and safety. This may be achieved by:

1. Develop a working from home policy.

This policy aims to provide an organisation and its workers with clear and consistent guidelines on how to conduct working from home arrangements. The following issues should be addressed in the policy:

  • Definition of 'working from home'
  • How people working from home are subject to the organisation¿s employment policies and procedures e.g. reporting of work injuries
  • The work hours and days for working from home
  • Provision and maintenance of equipment
  • Responsibility of workers working from home for maintaining a safe work environment.
  • How work output is to be monitored and by whom.

2. Facilitate a home workplace assessment.

Employers should facilitate an assessment of the home workplace. This should only relate to the area where work is to be performed. This assessment might be done by, or on behalf of, the employer. In most circumstances, this could be done by workers themselves, provided sufficient information is made available to them.

3. Provide and maintain safe equipment.

For each group of like workers or for each worker, there should be agreement on what equipment the worker will be using, who will provide it, who is responsible for maintaining it, who is responsible for loss or damage to the equipment. Employers who provide workers with equipment to carry out their work are responsible for its maintenance. An employer must ensure that:

  • The equipment is correct for the job. For example, are a desk, chair and computer suitable for the task?
  • Any necessary personal protective equipment is provided.
  • Any information and training provided to workplace based workers on how to use the equipment is provided to the home based worker.
  • The equipment provided by the employer is maintained, and defects reported.
  • Electrical equipment provided is inspected, tested and tagged as required.
  • Safety instructions are given to the worker regarding the maintenance of the worker provided equipment.

Other equipment such as fixed lights, electrical sockets etc. are the responsibility of a homeowner. If workers use their own equipment and furniture, it must meet minimum workplace health and safety requirements relevant to the sort of job being done. For example, if this is office work, the workstation used should be ergonomically correct. If machinery is used, the controls should be clearly marked and properly positioned.

This web site will assist you:

 Workplace Health & Safety Queensland - Health & Safety for Telecommuters

For those of you in other states visit our Resources Page - Occupational Health & Safety for some more information


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