This advice is primarily for core Public Service agencies but is provided as general guidance to the wider State services, excluding the Health and Education sectors.
Separation of the COVID response environment
The requirement to work from home in response to the lockdown at Alert Levels 4 and 3 is not a true reflection of working from home under a flexible working arrangement. Agencies need to work through and develop their own flexible working policy that takes into account the agency context.
Request by employee to work from home
This advice relates to employee requests to work from home rather than employer-required working from home. The employer is under no obligation to replicate the office equipment to allow working from more than one location.
Agencies must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers while at work. That includes remote work, as a workplace is anywhere work is carried out.
For example, with ergonomic risks, agencies must ensure workers have appropriate equipment to work safely. With mental health/stress risks, agencies must ensure workers understand risks such as social isolation and workload and that controls are in place to manage these risks, proportionate to the level of risk. This may differ between workers, the home environment and duration/frequency of work undertaken from home.
To support an approved request for working from home from an individual employee, if they do not already have appropriate equipment at home, agencies may consider providing the following items of equipment:
Providing additional equipment will depend on what is reasonably practicable.
Where there is no public health requirement to work from home, if a worker does not have an ergonomic set-up at home or is experiencing pain and discomfort at home and it is not practicable to provide ergonomic equipment at home, it may be more reasonable to expect them to return to the office. When considering requests for equipment, agencies should follow WorkSafe’s definition of reasonably practicable. Agencies may need to consider reasonable adjustments to their general approach, to support people with disabilities.
Detailed guidance on supporting people to work from home, from the perspective of health and safety, privacy and security of information, is provided by the Government H&S Lead. Agencies should also consider their organisational strategies and policies (in particular people strategy and flexible-by-default approach, IT, property, business continuity, privacy and information security).
Reimbursement of expenses relating to working from home
There is no expectation on agencies that additional compensation or allowance be provided for expenses arising from a request to work from home, as part of flexible working.