Remind your team: Don’t forget who might be watching!

A year on from the COVID-19 taking effect, the way people work has changed substantially. More and more people are working from home through online platforms. Meetings have continued as workers and managers become used to resources like Zoom, Microsoft Teams and others like them. But, are they getting too comfortable with these resources?

A series of recent stories from overseas act as a reminder that even though your team may continue to work from home, they must remember they are working and must act accordingly.

The most recent report is about a Canadian MP,  William Amos, who made an embarrassing apology after being caught naked during a parliamentary video call for the Canadian House of Commons question time. Luckily, he was hidden from the public stream while other members spoke.

Mr Amos apologised immediately after the event, explaining that he was changing into work clothes after going for a run and did not realise the camera was on. This is not the first time we have seen something in the news like this.

A link to the story is here: https://ia.acs.org.au/content/ia/article/2021/canadian-mp-caught-unawares-on-camera.html?ref=newsletter

This event comes soon after:

  • a surgeon was chastised by an American Judge when he appeared at a virtual court hearing while working in the operating theatre;

  • a lawyer participating in an online hearing could not turn off a cat filter while in court; and

  • in preliminary hearings for a Twitter hacker, internet trolls repeatedly disrupted the court, ending in one of the trolls sharing a screen playing graphic pornography.

Responsibilities of employees

As employees continue to work from home by choice or necessity, it is imperative that employers remind their staff that during work time and work activities, they must adhere to reasonable standards of conduct. This will mean being clear about what is an appropriate standard of dress when they are visible, and the appropriate use of communication in what is otherwise a relaxed environment.

Employees must also understand any requirements for computer virus protection on their computers that they may use for work purposes, particularly if they are accessing work platforms and there is a risk they may expose the workplace to viruses and hacking.

Safeguarding your business (NFP organisation)

An issue that we have covered before, is the need to ensure workplace health and safety standards are maintained for employees working at home.

If you are going to allow your team to work from home, you have a right to, and really should, conduct an audit of their home work environment, to ensure it is safe and that confidential material belonging to your organisation is secure from visitors to the home.

Ideally, you should have a “Working from Home” policy and agreement. Your policy should set out the requirements for employees working from home, such as:

  • communication with the workplace, other employees and management;

  • level of supervision required;

  • accessibility for clients;

  • recording time and workflow;

  • privacy considerations;

  • compliance with workplace health and safety requirements;

  • resources and equipment required; and

  • responsibility for costs incurred.

If you direct employees to work from home, you will be responsible for covering the associated costs like the relevant component costs of:

  • internet;

  • telephone line rental/ mobile plan; and

  • electricity.

Before you proceed with a “Working from Home” Agreement, we recommend that you direct the employee to conduct an audit of the home and workspace to ensure that:

  • they have an ergonomically sound workstation that meets work requirements and minimise risk of injury;

  • there is sufficient light for work to be performed safely;

  • there is sufficient ventilation;

  • noise levels are at acceptable levels so as not to distract the employee during work;

  • they have access to any further equipment required to complete work tasks in an efficient manner;

  • they have safety equipment like fire extinguishers and first aid kits, and they know how to use them;

  • they have the appropriate telephone and data lines to access and complete work;

  • they have a secure environment if they are working with information subject to privacy requirements; and

  • they are appropriately insured to work from home.

As working from home is becoming more accepted, managing the associated risks is best achieved with good planning and preparation. Workplace policies and procedures, coupled with regular communication of the acceptable conduct standards in your workplace will help you to avoid some of the risks or even unnecessary embarrassment we have identified.

If you don’t have workplace policies in place or you need assistance in preparing policies and guidance that comply with relevant legislation, we can assist you. Call us at 07 3160 0010 or contact us at our website www.nfplawyers.com.au or email michelle.cowan@nfplawyers.com.au.


Disclaimer – Reliance on Content
The material distributed is general information only. The information supplied is not and is not intended to be, legal or other professional advice, nor should it be relied upon as such. You should seek legal or professional advice in relation to your specific situation.