Work From Home – It’s Future After Telstra’s Compensation Claim

July 4, 2011

The future of work from home has just become more complicated and risky for employers

With the legal decision that Telstra must pay out over a work from home injury. This case has received a lot of media attention, particularly due to the nature of the injuries sustained by the employee.

It is unfortunate to hear that the employee has serious enough injuries that she can’t dress herself, I couldn’t even imagine what that would be like. These injuries were sustained by the employee who was wearing socks and slipping down the stairs in her home, not just once, but doing this twice.

With the judge stating that these injuries arose from her employment at Telstra and who are therefore liable for her legal and medical costs.

As I have been working from home for years and to be honest, one of the greatest things I have the pleasure of doing is wearing whatever I like and at the moment socks to keep my feet warm in winter.

The main question here is when does the employer responsibility end and the personal responsibility start? This line is now blurred due to this recent legal decision.

Not knowing the full details of the case, I don’t think it’s fair to say who’s right or who’s wrong. However, as an advocate for work life balance, including increasing the opportunity for employees to work from home, this has GOT to be easier for employers to embrace, not harder.

So where to from here? The main outcome I take from all of this for employers is the emphasis on your workplace health and safety assessments in the home environment.

As I’m not an expert in this area, I cannot advise what exactly an employer will need to do now to cover themselves completely from possible litigation (or if that’s even possible), therefore it may be worthwhile engaging a consultant to help you to do that.

Ultimately as a home is designated as a working environment, as an employer it is your responsibility to ensure that the work environment is safe and that the employee is aware of safe practices operating within that environment.

The common work from home checklist assessment that is given to employees may in fact need to be expanded to cover more common sense health and safety elements.

My hope is that this case does not stop or discourage employers from allowing and increasing work from home opportunities. There are enormous benefits in doing so and hopefully by increasing the health and safety this will dramatically decrease this being an issue in the future. For more information, visit the news article here – http://www.news.com.au/business/telstra-forced-to-pay-costs-compensation-afte…>

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