Many business across the country have transitioned their employees to work from home to comply with social distancing measures. With this change comes a variety of new HR considerations for employers. The most important thing is for employers to make sure employees understand that the usual standard of conduct is required of them, despite being in their home environment. Technology makes it possible for many businesses to operate remotely and employees working from home are connecting using a range of communications software. This has the potential to increase the risk of cyberbullying and harassment in the workplace. It can be easy for employees to forget when using such platforms that their communications remain subject to workplace policies. Inappropriate conduct occurring whilst an employee works from home is still considered to have occurred at work and will therefore render individuals liable and employers vicariously liable under Australia’s employment laws.
To mitigate the risks outlined above employers should maintain regular contact with their staff and direct employees to access and review relevant workplace policies such as social media or IT policies. It may also be beneficial to update or create a workplace surveillance policy and remind employees that communications using work systems can be reviewed. Furthermore, employers and senior employees should ensure that they lead by example.
Contact M+E to discuss any employment issues which may arise in this unprecedented time for businesses.