1 min read

What constitutes working from home?

Q: We are a very flexible business. However, due to our focus on health and safety, we have looked into policies regarding our staff working from home. We now realise that we cannot be as casual about it as we have previously been and would prefer that working from home is the exception rather than the rule. Of course, we will consider requests to work from home as they are presented.

My question is, what constitutes working from home from a legal perspective? Some people have made comments that they look at their work emails on their phones when they are at home. Does this constitute working from home?

A: Working from home is also known as teleworking or telecommuting, and involves workers working away from the regular workplace, usually at home.

Workers need to seek permission from their employer before working from home.

This is because under health and safety legislation, a person conducting a business or undertaking must take reasonably practicable steps to minimise health and safety risks to all workers, including those who work from home. Further, if you require a worker to perform work at a place other than the usual workplace, the worker will still be ‘at work’ for the purposes of the legislation.

If workers are checking emails on their phone when at home, whether it would be considered working from home would depend on if it was done at the request of the business or if this was simply an administrative exercise. However, it is unlikely that this would fall within the scope of working from home.

Some factors to consider when determining if a worker should work from home include:

  • whether all of the worker’s tasks can be carried out safely and efficiently away from the usual workplace; and
  • whether the quality of the work is likely to be affected if work is performed away from the usual workplace.

We also recommend that you review chapter W6 Working from Home.

Please note: The answer is correct at the time of publishing. Be aware that laws may change over time. Refer to Office safety and Working from home for current advice.

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