As we all bask in the post-covid lockdown freedom and life appears to finally be getting back to something that looks like the pre-2020 “normal”, there are still some lingering effects from the lockdown that may continue for a while, including the ability for some to work remotely. A lot of us have had the experience of working from home in the last few years and can see the benefits for employees – no commute means you have more time to spend at home with the family before starting work and no more driving home tired, you can get your laundry done during your lunch break and for those of us living in this beautiful piece of the world, there may even be time for a swim at the beach during a break! The reality is, a lot of employers are now accepting that employees can be just as productive when working from home without the time lost commuting or the distractions of a busy workplace.
But when you are working from home where you feel more relaxed, it is sometimes easy to forget that employees still have responsibilities to their employer. You still have an obligation to adhere to the terms of your employment contract, whether it may be completing work during set times, recording your time spent on tasks or performing a set amount of work per week. While it might be easy to duck out for a quick swim at lunch, the work hours you are required to perform under your employment contract are important to keep in mind. You also still have the responsibility of following any relevant policies, procedures and reasonable directions from your employer which may include things like regular communication with the office and keeping business records secure and confidential which can be more difficult if you do not have a separate space to work at home. You also have the responsibility of taking reasonable care of your own health and safety. Although you should be covered by your employer’s worker’s compensation insurance policy while working remotely, keep in mind that you may need to prove that you were injured during work hours/employment duties as opposed to during that swim at the beach in order for any injuries to be covered.
If you are anything like me, working from home has become the new normal. In order for it to work for both you and your employer, it’s important that you minimise distractions, agree beforehand on work hours and/or time frames for tasks to be performed so the expectations are realistic on both sides, and that you stay connected with your employer in relation to work matters just as you would in the workplace. Now I’m headed to the beach for that swim!
KC Hilton, WNB Legal