4 Essential Considerations For Business Owners Relating To Remote Working Employees

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Employees working from home has always been an arrangement that some businesses were happy to agree to and is perfectly permissible for lawyers such as those from  robertsonhayles.com.au.  However, the Covid-19 pandemic took home working from the optional into the realms of legal necessity given the lockdowns put in place.

The experience may have caused some businesses and their employees to reassess how home working could be something that becomes the norm rather than the exception. Certainly, many employees enjoyed the ability to work in a comfortable environment in which they could work in their pyjamas if they choose to, take breaks when they wished to, and at the same time save a fortune in commuting costs.

However, before switching to remote working, business owners need to consider more than just whether it makes their employees happier. Desirable as that may be, there are several factors which need to be considered too.

Employee Safety

Every business must be aware that regardless of whether an employee is working within the company offices, or from their living room, the company has a duty of care for that employee’s safety when they are working on behalf of the company. Whilst office work might not seem dangerous there are still circumstances in which a claim for compensation for work-related injuries may occur.

These include claims for physical injuries such as repetitive strains, and also mental illness caused by stress. Businesses should ensure they communicate to all employees who are home-based that they should be open and forthcoming about any health concerns they have related to their work.

Hours Of Work

Some issues can arise due to home-based working such as employees working fewer hours than they are being paid for, or claiming unnecessary overtime to complete tasks. If they are at home then there is less chance of employers being able to confirm any of these, but there are ways it can be controlled.

First, update working time expectations with all employees. Second, confirm the quantity of work expected for a given number of hours. Third, reaffirm what the business regards as normal working hours and overtime and thus when it considers overtime to be appropriate.

Equipment And Technology

An employee simply switching from using the equipment they use at their employer’s office, to their own equipment is not always the most feasible, nor healthy option for them. For example, your office may have ergonomic keyboards, chairs and workstations which reduces strains and injuries. The employee’s home office might not.

Another problem could be that their home computer has much lower specifications than their office one and so their output is diminished and slower. Regardless of the differences, it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that home-based employees have equipment of sufficient specifications for them to carry out their role without hindrance and in as safe and as comfortable a manner as possible. If that means supplying it to their home, then do so.

Confidentiality And Security

Presumably, your company has all the latest and most rigorous security measures in place, especially relating to internet connections and retaining adequate levels of corporate confidentiality. Whilst home-based workers might have a firewall and anti-virus software, neither is likely to be at the level necessary for corporate security. As such it would be wise to supply them with the relevant software licences to install them on their computer equipment.

Another concern could be employee’s work being open to anyone who enters their home, and those persons reading confidential information, deliberately or accidentally. Employers should remind home-based employees of the importance of vigilance and their personal responsibility to ensure that any sensitive or confidential information is kept secure at all times. Reminders of the criminal and civil penalties for nefarious sharing of such information would also be in order.