Working from home guidance

Some workplaces and workers may continue to work from home, depending on their circumstances. This page offers general guidance to support businesses and workers to work from home to manage health and safety risks.

Staying safe at work or home

Businesses have a legal responsibility to maintain a safe and healthy workplace and manage the risk of COVID-19 to workers.

Businesses can allow staff to work from home at their discretion.

Most businesses and workers must continue to follow public health orders, including:

There are requirements for some workers to be vaccinated, depending on their workplace.

There are guidelines for businesses with a worker who tests positive to COVID-19.

While safety plans are no longer mandatory, they are strongly encouraged for NSW businesses.

When is work from home practical and reasonable?

Whether working from home is reasonably practicable depends on the workplace and the facilities available to work remotely and safely from home.

In deciding whether working from home is appropriate, businesses should consider:

  • the individual employee's role
  • the suitability of work activities
  • workflows and expectations
  • workstation set up
  • the surrounding environment such as ventilation, lighting and noise
  • the home environment, such as partners, children, vulnerable people and pets
  • the communication requirements such as frequency and type
  • the mental health and emotional wellbeing of the employee
  • safe working procedures and training requirements.

Any existing workplace policies on working from home also apply.

As with all work health and safety matters, employers must consult with their employees and any elected health and safety representatives (HSRs) on working from home arrangements.

Read the Fair Work Ombudsman guidance on coronavirus and Australian workplace laws.

What workers should do when working from home

Employees also have health and safety obligations to minimise risks when working from home, including:

  • following procedures about how work is performed
  • keeping work equipment in good working order
  • using equipment provided by the workplace as per the instructions given
  • maintaining a safe work environment, such having a designated work area, moving furniture to ensure comfortable access, providing adequate lighting and ventilation, repairing any uneven surfaces or removing trip hazards
  • managing their own in-house safety, such as maintaining electrical equipment and installing and maintaining smoke alarms
  • notifying the employer about risks or potential risks and hazards
  • reporting any changes that may affect their health and safety when working from home.

If a worker tests positive for COVID-19 while working from home

If a worker tests positive for COVID-19, they must follow the health advice provided by the local public health authority and notify the business as soon as practicable (even if they have been working from home).

Businesses should discuss leave arrangements with workers and determine if the worker has had contact with any other workers while they were infectious.

It is possible that a worker with COVID-19 could potentially work from home if they have no or minor symptoms.

When workers can be asked to return to the workplace

Whether or not a business can ask workers back to the workplace after working from home will depend on a range of factors, including:

  • public health requirements
  • individual circumstances of the employee working from home.

What businesses must do:

All businesses must ensure return to work arrangements adhere to relevant Australian and NSW government advice and legislation.

Before directing employees to return to the workplace, businesses need to undertake a risk assessment and consult with employees.

Businesses must also consult with workers and any elected health and safety representatives about any direction to return employees to the workplace.

Working from home resources

Mental health resources

Family violence resources

 

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