Working From Home During Lock-down. what employers need to know

Working From Home During Lock-down. what employers need to know

Working From Home – What you need to know and the associated Policies and Checklist

When you have employees working from home you are still under an obligation as an employer to ensure that the Health and Safety is being looked after. Any injury suffered in the course of employment, including while working from home, is likely to result in a potential exposure to a workers’ compensation claim.

Many businesses that already have working-from-home arrangements in place may not find this a challenging issue. However, for some companies, it may be necessary to take additional steps to determine whether their staff are exposed to risks and, if so, how they will be controlled.

First and foremost – You should not assume that all workers have a separate area in the house where they can set up a work station and safely work without exposing themselves to risks to their health and safety.

BUT How do you assess the risk?

Ensure that you have a working from home policy and Procedures. If you do not have one you can download and adapt the one we have attached  HERE – the ergonomics policy that is associated with the working from home policy and procedure can be found HERE

You will also need to ensure that you have taken the appropriate steps to ensure that the employee has a safe working environment – you can use this checklist HERE

What is important right now is that you provide sufficient information and instruction to all your team members that are going to be working from home how they should work safely while at home. In the current circumstances with the Coronavirus (COVID-19), this instruction should take into account the impact on some team members having to look after their children, who are at home due to daycare and school closures as they may happen.

You can convey these instructions in group emails or more detailed one-on-one instruction via virtual meet-ups. Ensure that you check in with your teams regularly as psychological wellbeing will be vital in times of isolation.

 

NEED SUPPORT

To say business owners are in for the challenge of a lifetime is an understatement. Each day what we need to know changes almost by the hour. With so many questions that are yet to be answered, we all need support and guidance as well as that caring and supportive person to listen to us.

Fresh HR Insights Pty Ltd has extended it’s 30-minute FREE general consultation to 60-Minutes for all new business connections.

No strings attached just our way of being there when business owners need us.

We have opened up more available times so jump onto our booking system and book your virtual time.

BOOK HERE

We Help You With Managing Employee Terminations

We Help You With Managing Employee Terminations

Unhappy employees at a company always dream of packing their office accessories, stomping out of the office as they shout “Bye Felicia” behind them. The same can be said for managers who are tired of working with troublesome employees and can’t wait to wave them goodbye. Towards the end of the year employees also tend to start seeking out new challenges elsewhere which can also be a cause of conflict regarding leave pay-out. Regardless of the situation, managing employee terminations can be an emotionally exhausting affair, especially the side conducting the termination. A manager’s patience can be severely tested as well as their knowledge of the process during this period. If there is no expert in HR consultancy services to help you with the employee termination procedure, then you might unintentionally leave yourself and your company open to financial liability. To make this process proceed much smoother, here are a few points that you will have to keep in mind if the employee is the one instigating the termination.

Confirm In Writing

If one of your staff members is the one requesting to terminate their employment, then insist that it be done in writing and not verbally. The document must explicitly state the reasons they are ending the contract and their intended last day of employment. Before responding, do seek advice from an HR support services provider if you do not have an internal one. If there is no letter of resignation forthcoming, then request a written notification to make clear why they are leaving the company and the date. A resignation will only be valid where there is an unequivocal intention by the employee to no longer be bound by the employment agreement.

Resignation in Haste

If they are resigning in “Haste” because of a workplace argument or disagreement, then it is recommended that you give them time to cool down and then check that they are still wanting to resign.

The Fair Work Commission noted in case law principles that:

  • It may not be reasonable to immediately accept a resignation where there are special circumstances;
  • Special circumstances may include words said in anger, under undue pressure or the intellectual capacity of employee;
  • Where there are special circumstances, employers should allow a reasonable period of time to pass. The employer may need to enquire whether the employee actually intended to resign;
  • Given the special circumstances, whether an employee intended to resign will be judged objectively by the courts; and
  • Where a resignation is given and the intention is unambiguous, the employer is not required to make further enquiries.

If an employer fails to take these steps and simply accepts a resignation made in the ‘heat of the moment’, it may be subject to an unfair dismissal application against them. Section 386(1)(b) of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) distinguishes between a genuine resignation and one where an employee has felt forced to resign ‘because of conduct, or a course of conduct, engaged in by his or her employer’, which is in fact considered a dismissal at the initiative of the employer.

In the case of Minato v Palmer Corporation (1995), a retail employee stormed out of the workplace saying to her supervisor that she could “shove the f***ing job up her a***”. When the employer refused to accept the employee’s withdrawal of her resignation, it was found to be ‘harsh, unjust and unreasonable’ and therefore an unfair dismissal under section 385(b) of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).

Check Contractual Obligations

Before you make verbal agreements about anything in regard to a contract termination, do check the Employment legislation on whether their contractual obligations have been met. It is to ensure that the rights of the employee are not being infringed upon and that they give the company their best while still working there, according to their contract. If both parties comply, then this process can proceed smoother and with less risk of any claims against the employer. If the worker has leave days remaining in their contract or you don’t want them around the business during their notice period, check if you can pay them out – this is called ‘payment in lieu of notice’. This ideally is set out in their contract of employment. There are also other commitments to be calculated, such as final salary payments, overtime hours, as well as long service leave according to when the termination of employment will take effect. You MUST pay out all the employee entitlements or you may well receive correspondence from the Fair Work Commission. Many companies operate in risk-sensitive industries and might fear a jaded employee stealing company secrets and sharing them with competitors – it’s always best to have contracts that protect you and keep them up to date and checked.

Exit Interview Session and Duties Handover

An exit interview is a significant meeting, and managers should never be short-sighted about its relevance. Just because an employee wants to leave, do not take their exit interview for granted or take their notes in the discussion as just coming from a disgruntled employee. Having this interview will help you understand the reasons for the departure and the issues raised can be reviewed to improve the business. If these issues are fixed, it means that you have a better chance of retaining your staff. This time is also perfect for the leaving employee to share and transfer their knowledge about their duties to other employees who will be filling their role moving forward.

Clarify Restrictions – Restraint of Trades

Restrictions are absolutely reasonable in contracts with permanent staff members and are made to protect the company. It is not designed to prevent an employee from leaving but that they should not start a company within the industry, presenting a threat to their old employers. It can lead to the employee poaching clients and interfering with relationships. Other companies take restrictions a step further and force the employee to not work within the industry for about a year. It gives the company time to re-establish the relationship with the client.  What you however need to be mindful of is that you cannot stop a person from earning a living, so any restriction needs to be reasonable.

These are just some of the points that you will need to remember when working hard to manage an employee termination effectively. You can contact a HR company for advice on how to proceed. Fresh HR Insights is the company you are looking for to be in your corner. With more than a decade in the industry, we can help protect you from Fair Work breaches and managing employee terminations without the drama that follows.

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