Covid-19 has seen us transition into a new era of work. However, working from home does present some unique challenges to  employers.

Employers need to meet the challenge of some specific risks when staff work from home (WFH). Even though you may not see your people in person you still have to provide a safe work environment. Risks such as ergonomic injuries and family violence can go undetected.

Work Health and Safety laws (WHS laws)

You still have to comply with WHS laws when employees WFH. This means you have to provide:

  • A safe working environment
  • Safe ways of working
  • Monitor the health of your employees

It can be difficult to assess these risks when employees WFH.  So you need to have:

  • clear, well documented policies and processes that cover your business risks when staff WFH
  • make sure your policies can be accessed by everyone
  • check that employees have a safe home office environment when WFH this means:
    • making sure they have the right equipment
    • considering hazards your people might face
    • providing guidance on how to reduce risk of harm or injury.
    • making sure your people know it is ok to take breaks.
    • providing social support as WFH can be isolating.
  • communicate properly with your employees to help assess their workloads, mental health and wellbeing.
  • provide guidance on how and when to report an incident or injury that happens while WFH
  • arrange for your workers to borrow equipment from the office

Employer liability for the less obvious

There are some less obvious risks when your staff WFH including:

  • Sexual harassment
  • Bullying
  • Family and domestic violence

It is crucial as we work in different environments that employers stay vigilant to the signs of these risks and keep employees informed about complaint processes. Employers should make sure their employees feel safe at home and offer an alternative place of work to those who do not feel safe.

If you need advice on how to manage the risk when your employees work from home, please contact the Sainty Law team.