Having employees perform Home Based Work (HBW) on a regular basis can have great benefits for both you and your employees. However, 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 risk assessment of any home office before you allow employees to work there.
Employees may apply to undertake some work responsibilities from home. It is important to note that HBW is not a substitute for child care or other dependent care. Employees are responsible for ensuring that appropriate child care or dependent care arrangements are in place whilst engaged in HBW.
The following characteristics should be taken into consideration when assessing an employee’s application for HBW:
- The nature of the work and whether it is able to be performed as effectively at home as it is at the workplace
- The impact of HBW on overall business performance and work done by other employees
- The employee’s home workplace environment – can the work be completed safely at home and adhere to applicable occupational health and safety legislation?
- Any other applicable matters.
A detailed risk assessment of an employee’s home workplace environment must be completed by your company’s third party risk assessment provider and reviewed by a Health & Safety representative. The risk assessment must occur prior to an application for HBW being formally approved by your company. The initial third party assessment should be paid for by the Company – plus one re-assessment to verify that any required rectifications have been implemented.
The Company will not be responsible for providing or paying for any facilities required for an employee to conduct HBW. Any adjustments, modifications or additional equipment required to ensure the safety of the employees home workplace (as stated by the third party provider) will be at the employee’s own expense.
Formally recognised employees engaged in HBW will be covered by workers’ compensation legislation for their home workplace environment during the agreed hours of work.
Other points to consider
Firstly, you should determine whether or not their job is suited to being done from a home office before you agree to an employee’s request for HBW. If you decide that this can be done then you need to remember that it will be much more difficult for you to supervise and assess how they are performing. You will need to establish exactly how the employee’s performance will be monitored and assessed. Keeping this reduced supervision in mind, they may therefore need more comprehensive training to be able to perform their work safely.
It is also important to establish the specific days and hours the employee will work from home and the procedure for recording these hours. As well as this you will need to make sure that the employee is familiar with safe working procedures in regards to the equipment they are using.
If you are going to have employees who work from home on a regular basis, it is a good idea for you to introduce measures that ensure these employees don’t feel isolated or ignored.
This article was written by a special guest contributor, Darren Nelson. Darren is an Associate of Henricks Consulting and the Managing Director of Global PeopleSolutions P/Lnwww.globalpeople.biz