Working from home is not just for a select few workers on flexible working arrangements anymore, and with a shift in the way businesses are operating, working from home may become less of a back-up plan and more commonplace than we could have ever imagined.
While using your home as an office has its benefits, such as being home to take deliveries or popping on a load of washing while the sun is still out, it is important to consider factors of working outside the traditional workplace that your employer would ordinarily be responsible for, such as your home internet and or/phone line being used for work purposes, extra wear and tear on your computer and an increase in electricity usage. The other major consideration is workers compensation insurance and what you may or may not be covered for if you are injured while working from home.
When is an injury compensable?
If an injury occurs because of, or in the course, of your employment, and the activity you were undertaking contributed to the injury in a significant way, any injury sustained while working from home is compensable, as they would be if you were working in your regular place of employment.
This rule also applies to any injuries that are sustained while you are taking a break from work, so long as the injury was not caused through participating in an activity that posed a significant amount of risk.
Responsibilities of the worker
No matter what the location of the worker is, they are responsible for their own health and safety in accordance with any policies set by their employer. If you are an employee who is working from home, you should:
- ensure that you are maintaining a safe working environment and keeping any equipment in good order;
- follow regular practices to perform your work as your normally would;
- continue to use equipment in the way you would if you were working at your regular workplace;
- keep your employer updated if there are any changes that may affect your health and safety at home.
Responsibilities of the employer
While the worker is responsible for their safety when working from home, employers should mitigate any potential risk by assuming responsibility for:
- formalising the plan to work from home with the worker, as well as providing them with a checklist to ensure any WHS risks have been identified and considered prior to the arrangement commencing;
- establishing the scope of their role and if any existing duties may need to be omitted from their responsibilities while working from home;
- ensuring that each worker provides proof that their equipment is in good working order and that their workstation layout complies with WHS standards;
- encouraging workers to report any changes to their working environment that may cause injury or be a hazard; and
- providing all employees working from home with a policy that outlines the guidelines for working from home.
It is also important that employers remind workers to ‘switch off’ for the day to ensure that injuries to mental health do not occur.
If your employer has not carried out any of the above, it would be prudent to ask HR or your supervisor to formalise the arrangement.
For more information, speak to one of our compensation lawyers today.