A human resources consultancy is warning that, with a massive increase in the number of employees working from home, business owners may become liable for thousands of dollars in compensation claims around physical and mental health.
“The average compensation claim in Australian is $12,000. The penalty for businesses not providing employees with an induction into health and safety in their workplace, including home offices, can reach $100,000,” said Steven Fletcher, head of safety at HR consultancy Drake International.
Mr Fletcher is concerned workplaces have put staff health and safety on the backburner in the mad scramble to get technology and processes set up remotely.
“After four months of working from home we're all familiar now with Google Hangouts, online protocol, and a task driven work agenda, but we're concerned some businesses, particularly small to medium enterprises have forgotten about OH&S,' he said.
“Prior to the shutdown, many businesses did not have formal remote work arrangements and with working from home becoming the new normal as we learn to live with COVID-19, businesses need to start thinking about what that means from a safety and compliance perspective.”
Mr Fletcher said some of the risks of staff working from home included ergonomic injury from sedentary work, mental health issues, poor outward presentation to clients and ineffective communication amongst staff.
Data breaches are also of concern if staff have access to confidential information and share their computer or internet networks with other people at home.
“We're aware that compliance costs are a concern to business, especially in this environment, but the cost of not acting can be devastating for employees and employers alike,” Mr Fletcher said.
“Businesses need to manage OH&S protocols or risk compensation claims and loss of productivity.”
Drake International has created a digital compliance solution to support businesses to look after their staff working from home. The eLearning course provides three online training modules and safety checklist to bring businesses up to speed with their compliance obligations.
“For businesses that want to show due diligence, it’s a highly efficient and affordable way to bring their businesses up to their industry sector compliance level, and most of all to protect the safety and wellbeing of their employees,” said Mr Fletcher.
Image.. Drake International.