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4. Teleworking

Policies and procedures for telework once the business reopens. 

  • Whether telework remains an option is heavily dependent on the employer and the industry in which they operate. Although some reports suggest that working from home will become more and more common in a future after COVID-19, employers still retain the discretion to direct their employees to return to the workplace (see point 8) provided it is safe to do so.
  • In Australia, there has been a reported surge in sales of software to monitor employees’ productivity at home. Only some jurisdictions have legislation covering monitoring of workplace computers and so the use of this software will not always be covered. Thus, most of the privacy issues would arise pursuant to employer’s privacy policies.
  • Employees may submit a formal request to continue to work remotely once business reopens. Requests for flexible working arrangements are protected as a National Employment Standard.
    • An employee may request a change in their working arrangements from their employer if they require flexibility because they:
      • are the parent, or have responsibility for the care, of a child who is of school age or younger
      • are a carer (within the meaning of the Carer Recognition Act 2010)
      • have a disability
      • are 55 or older
      • are experiencing violence from a member of their family, or
      • provide care or support to a member of their immediate family or household, who requires care or support because they are experiencing violence from their family.
    • An employer can only refuse the request if there are reasonable business grounds to do so. On this issue, the fact that so many people working from home have proved that there is no issue with doing so and no loss of productivity may make it more difficult for an employer to argue that there are business grounds for refusing a request.
  • Where a workplace has a small office space, Fair Work Australia has recommended rotating working from home for employers in order to allow for adherence to the four-metre sq rule
Any questions

Ask our member firm Harmers Workplace Lawyers in Australia