Global pandemic is no excuse, employers obligated to protect health and safety of employees

With an increase in the number of people working from home or working remotely because of COVID-19, it is important for employers to understand that their work health and safety (WHS) obligations have not ceased. Now more than ever, employers should refresh themselves on their responsibilities when it comes to ensuring their staff maintain a safe working environment.

As an employer, you have a duty of care to provide a safe working environment for your employees, regardless of their location.

In considering how to maintain WHS practice for employees working at home, employers should ask themselves:

  • Have my employees got everything they need to work from home?
  • Have my employees got a safe space to work from at home, that allows them to maintain confidentiality in their work?
  • Have I provided guidance to employees on how to set up a safe working environment at home?
  • Have I created or kept a log to record any workplace incidents that occur when an employee is working from home?
  • Have I arranged for regular Microsoft Teams, Skype, Zoom or other digital meetings to maintain positive working relationships between all levels of employees?
  • Have I checked in with my employees to see if they have any WHS concerns?
  • Have I ensured that all instructions given to employees are compliant with Government-mandated social distancing requirements and hygiene practices? (this is particularly important for instructions requiring the employee to attend public places)
  • Have I checked in with my employees to discuss mental health and offer support or flexible working arrangements if needed?

Griffin Legal recommends checking in periodically with employees to give them an opportunity to raise any WHS and safety concerns.

For advice on maintaining good WHS practice during COVID-19 or assistance in implementing alternative employment arrangements, contact Griffin Legal today. We are well versed in all things employment law and are staying up to date with all the COVID-19 related legislative changes.

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