Working from Home – The Legal Issues
Australians are loving the greater freedom that working from home offers. With the growing influence of the internet and improvements in technology, its easy to understand why this working arrangement has become more and more popular. In fact, ABS data released in August 2016 reveals that almost one-third of all employed people regularly work from home in their main job or business. That’s about 3.5 million Australians! The benefits are obvious – but what legal issues should you consider?
First thing’s first – The Basics
To run a business from home, you need to be able to handle a wide range of issues. Your first step should be to develop a comprehensive business plan. Here are a few points to consider:
- Is your home a suitable location?
- Do local council regulations allow it?
- What are your legal obligations?
- Are you subject to any town planning requirements?
Do employers have to allow employees to work from home?
According to the National Employment Standards (NES) introduced in 2010 by the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), parents and caregivers of children under school age have the right to request flexible working arrangements, such as working from home. But a right to request is not the same as a right to. Under the NES, an employer is only required to seriously consider requests of this kind, but has no obligation to approve them. As such, it’s expected that employers will weigh the benefits of allowing more flexible work arrangements against any impacts upon business productivity and profits.
What are the legal issues for employers?
Under NSW OH&S laws, employers must provide employees with a safe workplace – but does this apply to employees who work from home? According to recent court decisions, the answer is YES! Just consider the 2011 case between Telstra and its employee, where the employee successfully claimed compensation for injuries sustained from falling down the stairs while working from home. In turn, employers must be diligent in setting clear rules for all at-home workers to avoid liability.
Find out more!
Working from home entails many legal issues in addition to those affecting regular employment arrangements. If you would like to know more about your legal rights and obligations, please don’t hesitate to contact me.