If you work from home, you may be able borrow equipment or get reimbursed for reasonable equipment costs.
Under Work Health and Safety laws, employers have a legal duty of care for the health and safety of their employees and others at the workplace “so far as is reasonably practicable”. This duty of care extends to working from home arrangements, meaning reasonable steps should be taken to ensure the employee’s home workstation meets workplace health and safety requirements.
Employer and Employee Obligations
Employers and employees have obligations to minimize risks when working from home. Many workplaces require their staff to complete a self-audit of the risks they face when working from home. Risks may include workstation ergonomics, environmental hazards, psychosocial risk, and risk associated with trips and falls. To mitigate these risks, the employee might need to move furniture to ensure comfortable access, ensure adequate lighting and ventilation, repair uneven surfaces, or remove trip hazards.
Your employer is responsible for providing you with the appropriate equipment to complete your work. If you are concerned about your workstation set up while working from home, you should first have a conversation with your employer to discuss what equipment you require to safely carry out your work.
The employer determines whether it is appropriate to allow employees to borrow equipment from the office, though it would be reasonable to allow staff to borrow equipment necessary for their jobs, such as monitors, keyboards, and mouses. The provision of desks and chairs might be more unlikely unless the employee can establish the need for an ergonomic chair and an appropriate desk to mitigate risks.
Your Employer May Reimburse You
If staff are unable to borrow equipment, employers may reimburse staff reasonable costs for equipment. For some organizations, reimbursement obligations might be contained in an enterprise agreement, award, or working-from-home policy. In the absence of such instruments, you should reach an agreement with your employer about the amount to be reimbursed and what approvals are required before purchasing the equipment.
Remember, if your employer does not reimburse you for expenses incurred while working from home, you can claim working from home expenses as tax deductions.
If an employer fails to provide the necessary equipment and determines that it is not safe for an employee to work from home, the employer might have to make alternative arrangements such as setting up a private office space or allowing flexible work hours.
Segelov Taylor Lawyers Can Help
Workers who are concerned about their safety in the office or working from home should contact their trade union or a lawyer.
At Segelov Taylor, we can provide guidance, advice, and representation on flexible working arrangements.
Segelov Taylor principal David Taylor is an accredited specialist in employment law. If you have concerns about safety in the workplace, please get in touch by email firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone (02) 8880 0500.
This information is intended as general information only. It does not purport to be comprehensive advice or legal advice. Readers must seek professional advice before acting in relation to these matters