Working from home under COVID-19
The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation is changing daily and it’s important to consider an adaptable workforce plan.
Businesses need to respond to community responsibilities around social distancing and minimising exposure to illness, while maintaining productivity and critical services.
Flexible working options could include:
- working from home or another location
- flexible start and finish times
- compressed hours or compressed working week
- flexible rostering or bid rostering
- job share.
SafeWork NSW recommends a team-based approach to align service delivery requirements with the flexibility needed to minimise risks to worker health and wellbeing.
Advice for employers
When working from home, workers are still covered under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. This means employers have an obligation to make sure the health and safety of their workers is maintained when they work at home.
When making decisions about whether workers should work from home, employers should:
- consult with workers and other relevant persons about whether working from home is an appropriate arrangement, including at an individual worker level
- keep up to date with information about COVID-19 risks and appropriate control measures
- seek advice specific to their circumstances including official advice issued by the NSW Health.
During consultation, employers should consider a range of factors including communication requirements, managing workflow, use of equipment, and workers’ compensation requirements.
Reasonable steps should be taken to ensure a worker’s at home work area meets workplace health and safety requirements. An assessment of the work area should be carried out, where possible, before the worker starts working from home. Use our checklist further down the page.
- risks associated with slips, trips and falls
- workstation ergonomics
- manual tasks
- electrical safety
- psychosocial risks such as personal security and isolation
- environmental hazards such as noise.
Advice for workers
Workers also have obligations for their health and safety when they’re working in their home. This may include:
- following procedures about how the work is performed
- keeping equipment in good working order and using any equipment issued by their workplace as per instructions
- maintaining a safe work environment (for example designating a specific work area, moving furniture to allow comfortable access, providing adequate lighting, repairing any uneven surfaces or trip hazards)
- managing their own in-home safety (for example maintaining electrical equipment, and installing and maintaining smoke alarms)
- reporting changes that may affect their health and safety when working from home.