With the increased likelihood of further social-distancing directives being issued by our Government, many businesses will soon be facing the prospect of turning their workplace into a remote workplace (if their business requirements allow for this structure). This is a great way to endeavour to keep your business up and running during this time, with business and employee continuity.
However, it is important to ensure you are well prepared and adequately set-up for these arrangements.
There are 3 key workplace documents you should consult and review (if your organisation has them) or develop before you embark on your workforce working remotely. These are:
- Variation to each (applicable) employment agreement;
- Remote Working Policy; and
- Occupational Health & Safety Self-Audit.
The first document allows you to properly outline the arrangements that will be in place, by confirming matters such as hours of work (i.e. core hours where applicable), how long the arrangement will stay in place for, what will happen when the pandemic ends and any other points of difference that are specific to your business requirements. This is an important document to ensure there are no ‘grey areas’, especially in situations where you require your workforce to return to the workplace when able (and no longer work remotely).
Secondly, you must have a Remote Work Policy to ensure you can maintain as much oversight and control over the way in which your employees are working. Understandably, you will no longer be able to oversee many of your workers in a physical sense. Therefore, the Policy aims to cover things such as appropriate workspaces, how work is to be performed, any productivity measurements applicable, cyber security, confidentiality and many other important matters to ensure your business is protected.
Thirdly, as an employer, you still have a duty to provide and maintain a safe workplace. Without social-distancing measures in place, it is common for employers to do an OH&S check on their employee’s home office setup. However, this might not be possible, especially in situations where your employee may be impacted by COVID-19. Accordingly, you can provide an OH&S Self-Audit document to your employees to conduct the appropriate checks themselves and provide to you.
As many organisations are now facing the prospect of moving their business to a remote environment, we urge you to get in contact with us as soon as possible to ensure you are adequately prepared. We can revise any agreements you already have or provide you with any appropriate agreements you may need to allow your business to seamlessly transition your employees to a remote working arrangement when you need to.
Francine Clancy, Senior Associate