Legal obligations to employees working from home this weekend

by 04 Apr 2012

The Telstra multibillion dollar compensation pay out to an employee who slipped and fell while working from home left employers scrambling to update their working from home policies – but as long weekend approaches, are your work from home frameworks aligned with WHS obligations?

After the record payout employer groups all but predicted the end of remote working. However, surveys have suggested the trend continues to grow despite workers’ comp claims.

Legal obligations

Legal advisors are warning employers to carefully consider the legal extension of workplace health and safety laws, and in considering requests to work from home, Kristin Ramsey, senior associate and Brisbane team leader at Harmers Workplace Lawyers advises businesses to consider the following:

  • Give careful consideration to all work from home requests
  • Prior to granting any request, complete a detailed, documented risk assessment of the home work environment looking at areas such as environmental factors (lighting, heating, ventilation etc.), workplace organisation and layout (including electrical and trip hazards), risks arising in respect of others that may enter the home work environment (such as children) and hours of work
  • Establish a comprehensive policy for working from home arrangements, which covers issues such as the requirement for employees to report health and safety concerns or incidents back to the employer and expressly allows the employer to routinely inspect the home working environment; and is signed off on by the employee prior to commencing a work from home arrangement
  • Keep documentary evidence of requests for working from home arrangements and the reasons why requests were/were not granted
  • Implement regular reviews of work from home arrangements as circumstances will inevitably change


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