Important things you must know before working from home.
COVID19 has thrown the whole world in a state of disarray with the amount of information that is being thrown at us on an almost hourly basis. Amongst this noise, the employment environment has had sudden and for many people, drastic changes. With a larger than ever number of Employers all over Australia requesting that their staff work from home in order to keep their businesses operational.
While this helps both businesses and staff that have the ability to work from home and reduces the chance of the spread of Corona Virus, it does raise questions like what happens if you are injured while working at home?
Are you covered under a Workcover policy while working from home?
Irrespective of whether an employee works from home or at an Employers place of business, an employer is responsible for providing a safe workplace.
If you are injured in the normal course of your employment, generally you are covered by WorkCover for recovery and wages. However, if an employee is injured in their home during the course of their regular work, it is your Employer’s responsibility to ensure you are covered by the Employers workers’ compensation insurance.
Steps you MUST take before you work from home!
- Ensure your working environment is safe.
Before Employers allow their staff to work from home, they should ensure that the environment complies with current workplace health and safety policies and it does not pose a risk of injury to the employee.
- Ensure your employer inspects your workplace.
It is recommended that the employer take the time to perform a visual inspection to ensure the workspace is ergonomically safe and does not have any likelihood of causing an injury to their staff member. Many Employers are carrying out inspections of home offices via online video conferencing or photo’s, this will ensure that you are covered in the event of an injury.
Of course, though, the sudden changes in the workplace have led many Employers to make very quick decisions to allow staff to remain employed and their businesses to remain open. With a growing number of Employers requesting staff work from home and with the limited time they are failing to inspect workspaces themselves to confirm that there is no risk for injury. The standard procedure is to have employees and the employer inspect their home and complete a ‘working from home’ safety survey to outline any potential risks.
There have been further concerns raised in relation to many Australian based office supply stores running out of desks, ergonomic chairs, computer monitors and notebook computers. The lack of availability of these items has likely caused many work from home staff to have makeshift offices that lack the required ergonomic requirements to be deemed a safe working environment.
A concise Employer should be taking the time to check in with their staff regularly to ensure their health and well being does not decline during these trying times.
In the event that an employer fails to take all reasonable actions, and an employee is injured while working at home, that has the potential to lead to legal action and significant costs for the Employer in association with defending such a claim by the Employee.
It is in the best interest for Employers to ensure that their WorkCover Policy is up to date and that all their employees are made aware of the risks and pre-emptive procedures to ensure workplace safety measures are being adhered to even when working from home.
If you have been injured in the course of employment, you should seek legal advice immediately and take action to protect your rights.