Workforce Management Procedure - Working from Home
Workforce Management Policy
The University is committed to assisting our staff members balance their responsibilities by offering flexible working arrangements. As part of this commitment, the University offers staff members the opportunity to apply to work from home.
This procedure sets out the steps involved in applying for, assessing, implementing and monitoring the ongoing effectiveness of a regular working from home arrangement.
This procedure covers working from home arrangements for professional staff. If desired, academic employees may also access the arrangements outlined in this procedure (e.g. academics may request an OHS assessment of their home-based work site).
Ad hoc working from home arrangement: working from home authorised by a supervisor, that does not occur on a regular basis or follow a regular pattern. Relevant terms, duties and responsibilities detailed in this procedure still apply to ad hoc arrangements (e.g. the OHS duty of care is still applicable) however an OHS assessment is not mandatory nor does a Working From Home Agreement need to be entered in to.
Regular working from home arrangement: authorised working from home that occurs at least once each week/fortnight for more than two consecutive months.
Children: for the purposes of this Procedure, children are under the age of 18 years, and child has the related meaning.
Head of Unit: A head of an academic or organisational work unit, for example a Head of School, Head of Department or where applicable, a person acting as his or her nominee.
Home-based work site: the area designated by the staff member to be used as the workplace when working from home.
HR Business Partner: a member of the Monash HR community who operates as a strategic partner responsible for providing a range of human resource services for an assigned Faculty or administrative Division. HR Business Partners are located within a HR Service Hub.
HR Service Hub: the centre for human resource services and activities within a Faculty or Divisional Cluster.
Parent: A parent may be a biological parent, a step parent, adoptive parent, foster parent, guardian or the domestic partner of a parent.
Parental or carer responsibilities: responsibilities involving care and attention provided to a child or another person (such as a parent, spouse, domestic partner, relative or friend) where that person is totally or substantially dependent on the staff member for care.
Performance Development Online (PDO): an online performance planning tool that supports staff to manage the performance development cycle in a timely and consistent way. It is a hosted, web-based product that is easy to use, offers a secure repository for documentation and streamlines user data entry via SAP.
Staff member: the professional staff member applying for and/or who has entered into a working from home arrangement.
Supervisor: the person who the applicant reports to on a day-to-day basis.
Working from Home: an authorised, voluntary and cooperative arrangement made between a staff member and the University for the performance of specified work during ordinary hours of duty at the staff member's home.
Working from Home Agreement: A written document (based on a template)
that sets out the terms and conditions of the working from home arrangement. The Agreement is signed by the Applicant and the Supervisor and approved by the Head of Unit.
1. Roles and Work Styles Suited to Working from Home
Each application to work from home should be assessed on its merits, taking individual and University needs into account. However, the University considers that certain types of roles and particular work styles are less suited to working from home.
The types of roles considered less suited to working from home include:
- those with high levels of face-to-face interaction with clients, colleagues or supervisor;
- those that require close supervision of other staff members; and/or
- those that cannot be performed effectively without accessing confidential information or systems/information only accessible on-site.
Individual work styles
There are certain working styles that are more suited to working from home than others.
To successfully work from home, the staff member should:
- be self-disciplined and self-motivated;
- be able to work effectively without close supervision;
- be able to plan their work, meet agreed deadlines and have high levels of output whilst working independently;
- have high levels of organisational knowledge; and
- be an effective communicator.
Staff members and supervisors should:
- be aware of these limitations when making/assessing an application to work from home; and
- be aware that the supervisor is obliged to take these factors into account when assessing requests (using the Suitability Checklist) and should only approve applications in which both the role and the employee's work style are suited to working from home.
2. Continued applicability of employment terms & conditions and University policies
All terms and conditions of employment that apply whilst working on-site at the University remain unchanged and are applicable at the home-based work site. All workplace policies and procedures continue to apply and should be available at all times.
In particular, staff members should be aware of the following matters:
- The University's OHS and WorkCover policies are applicable. The requirement for the staff member to take reasonable care for their own health & safety and notify their supervisor of any risks or injuries sustained at the home-based work site applies at home (using the Hazard & Incident Report Form). If the staff member is injured whilst performing approved University work in their designated home-based work site, they are covered by WorkCover.
- Staff members who work from home continue to have access to learning & development opportunities.
- Security of information, data integrity and privacy in the home-based work site shall mirror the University's office-based policies.
- The Monash University Statute 11.2 - Intellectual Property and the regulations made under the Statute apply to any intellectual property created whilst working from home.
- The University's policies relating to use of the University's IT resources apply regardless of whether the equipment is being used on-site or whilst working from home. This includes:
- Expectations that apply at the University continue to apply when the staff member is working from home i.e. the supervisor should be able to expect the same quality of work and that deadlines will be met regardless of where the work is performed.
Step 1: The staff member informally requests a working from home arrangement
A staff member wishing to apply for a regular working from home arrangement should first discuss this informally with their supervisor.
Following the discussion, the staff member should then complete the Working from Home Application Form, providing details of the proposed arrangement.
Points to keep in mind when applying to work from home are as follows:
- Working from home should not be used as a substitute for dependant care or sick leave. Staff members who are granted the opportunity to work from home will be expected to deliver agreed outcomes. The agreed working from home hours should be devoted to work and the arrangement should enable the staff member to work as efficiently and effectively as an equivalent staff member in the office.
- Working from home should be within the staff member's ordinary hours of duty.
- Whilst working from home, the staff member needs to be contactable and available for communication with the University (using agreed communication methods). For health and safety reasons, staff members and supervisors are encouraged to make contact with one another during the day whilst the staff member is working from home.
- To maximise the chances of reaching an arrangement that suits both parties, the staff member and the supervisor are asked to approach these discussions with as much flexibility as possible and be open to consider adjustments to the original proposal to make the arrangement viable.
Step 2: The supervisor assesses the request and responds to staff member
Suitability to work from home
In deciding whether to approve or decline a working from home request, the supervisor should consider:
- whether the role lends itself to being performed from home; and
- whether the staff member's working style is well suited to working from home.
The Working from Home - Suitability Checklist is designed to assist the supervisor make this assessment. Supervisors are strongly encouraged to use the Checklist and only approve arrangements in which both the role and the employee's working style are assessed as being well suited to working from home.
Reasonable number of days working from home
If the supervisor assesses that the employee's role and working style is well suited to working from home, consideration should also be given to the number of days per week/fortnight the staff member can reasonably work from home.
To help the staff member maintain relationships with colleagues, keep abreast of changes/events in the office and avoid isolation, working from home 100% of the time is not considered appropriate.
The majority of the staff member's time should be spent in the office each week/fortnight.
In determining the amount of time a staff member can feasibly work from home, the supervisor should consider:
- how many days worth of work per week/fortnight is suitable to be done from home;
- how many days per week/fortnight could the staff member work from home without it impacting on service delivery;
- how many days per week/fortnight could the staff member work from home without it impacting on others' work loads;
- how many days per week/fortnight could the staff member work with limited supervision; and
- how many days per week/fortnight could the staff member motivate themselves to carry out their work.
Following the assessment, the supervisor should advise the staff member of their response within 21 days of receiving the request. Applications should only be declined on reasonable business grounds.
Whilst supervisors should not feel compelled to approve an arrangement if they have reasonable business grounds for declining it, some consideration should be given to whether the arrangement may be viable if some adjustments were made e.g. fewer days per week/fortnight, a shorter Agreement term and/or the staff member agreeing to come into the office for certain meetings/activities.
It is recommended that the decision be communicated via a face-to-face discussion. However, a written confirmation should also be provided (this can be done via the Working from Home Application Form & Agreement .
Declining a request
- If the request has been declined, reasons for the refusal should be included (with a copy sent to the HR Hub for attachment to the staff member's personnel file).
- Given the potential sensitivities associated with declining a request, supervisors are strongly recommended to discuss their decision with Workplace Relations via their HR Business Partner prior to communicating this to the staff member.
Declining a request from a staff member applying on the basis of parental/carer responsibilities
- If the supervisor is planning to decline an application from a staff member who has applied to work from home on the basis of parental or carer responsibilities, they should follow the process specified in Section 4 of the Workforce Management Procedure - Flexible Working Arrangements for Parents and Carers.
Supporting a request
- If the supervisor is supportive of the request, he/she should make it clear that they are providing ‘in-principle' support and the implementation of the arrangement is subject to the employee's home being assessed as safe from an OHS perspective, the approval of the Head of Unit and the other terms and conditions of the Working from Home Agreement.
Trialling an arrangement
- If the supervisor is generally supportive of the arrangement but has some concerns, it is recommended that they trial the arrangement for up to 3 months and then assess the viability of the arrangement for a longer term.
Step 3: OHS assessment of home-based work site occurs
In accordance with OHS legislation, the University has a duty of care to provide a safe work environment for its employees. This duty of care continues to apply to staff with approval to work from home.
To assist the University in meeting this commitment, regular working from home arrangements (including trials) may only be approved and implemented following an OHS assessment of the home-based work site, confirmation that the work site is safe and ongoing cooperation from the staff member in all measures to ensure the work site conforms to acceptable OHS standards.
The process is as follows:
- Once the supervisor has provided ‘in principle' support for the arrangement, they should contact their HR Business Partner to request an OHS assessment of the designated home-based work site.
- The HR Business Partner will coordinate with the Manager, Employee Assistance (Monash HR) for the assessment to occur at a convenient time.
- A suitably qualified external OHS consultant will undertake the assessment and provide a report to the Manager, Employee Assistance.
- Discussions will then occur between the Manager, Employee Assistance, the HR Business Partner, the supervisor and the staff member on the outcomes of the assessment, including any modifications or equipment needed to enhance the safety of the work site and funding arrangements (generally, the staff member is responsible for covering any home office set up costs).
- To help the University meet its OHS obligations, OHS assessments will occur once per year, usually as part of the Agreement renewal process. More frequent OHS inspections/assessments may also occur if required. The time of the inspection will be mutually convenient, during business hours and with at least 24 hours notice.
- In addition, whilst working from home, staff should refer and adhere to the University's Computer User Guidelines, which provide guidance on the ergonomic use of computers.
- In the event of a dispute arising on an issue of health, safety or welfare of the staff member and for the sole purpose of resolving the dispute, the staff member is required to allow a duly appointed WorkSafe Inspector or representatives of the University's Occupational Health Safety & Environment unit to enter the home-based work site, with no less than 24 hours notice in writing. Such inspection shall take place within designated working hours. It is agreed that the staff member has a right to a third party being present during visits from the University's representative.
Step 4: The parties agree on equipment provision arrangements
As part of negotiating the arrangement, the staff member and supervisor should determine how the equipment needed to support the regular working from home arrangement will be provided.
The following principles will apply:
- The staff member is responsible for all costs associated with the compliance of the home-based work site (e.g. furniture). This excludes any IT equipment, communication facilities and/or utility expenses that the University may agree to cover, as outlined below. Any requests for furniture or other equipment to be supplied/paid for in part or in full by the University will be considered on a case-by-case basis, taking into account what is reasonable in the circumstances.
- Arrangements pertaining to the supply of any IT equipment and communication facilities (including phone and Internet) will be in accordance with the Conduct and Compliance Procedure - Provision of University IT Equipment and Communication Facilities to Staff.
- If it is agreed that the University will cover any of the costs outlined above, claims for reimbursement will be made in accordance with the expense management process.
- To minimise security risks, the staff member must use facilities provided or approved by e-Solutions to access the University's network.
- University-supplied equipment should be used for business purposes only. This equipment will be insured and maintained by the University and the staff member should notify the University if any problems or difficulties arise (they should not seek to arrange servicing or repairs themselves). If repairs/maintenance are required, the staff member may be required to return the equipment to Monash or the University may require access to the home-based work site - 24 hours written notice will be provided to the staff member.
- University-supplied equipment and furniture remains the property of the University and must be returned upon termination of the working from home arrangement.
- Before entering into a working from home arrangement, the staff member may wish to seek independent taxation advice regarding claiming home office expenses in their tax return.
The details of the equipment arrangements should be included in the Working from Home Agreement.
Step 5: The staff member and supervisor sign the Working from Home Agreement
Following confirmation of the home based work site being safe, the parties should enter into a Working from Home Agreement.
- An Agreement is required for all regular working from home arrangements, including trial arrangements.
- The maximum term of any Working From Home Agreement is 12 months (renewable). However, if the staff member moves to a different position during the term of the arrangement, it will be reviewed and may be ceased or altered, depending on the suitability of the new role to working from home.
- As part of this process, the staff member and supervisor are required to agree on specifics such as methods for maintaining effective communication, monitoring output levels and managing performance whilst working from home (the Agreement template prompts this). HR Business Partners are available to assist in developing these arrangements. Support is also available to supervisors (via the Employee Assistance Program) who would like to develop their style to better manage staff members who work from home.
- The supervisor may require the staff member to maintain a record of time worked whilst working from home.
Step 6: The Agreement is submitted for approval
The Agreement requires the approval of the Head of Unit.
The Agreement should then be sent to the HR Hub who will:
- advise the staff member and supervisor that the Agreement has been approved; and
- forward the Agreement to the Director, Workplace Relations who confirms the correct application process has been followed.
Step 7: HR Operations
Following all approvals, the Agreement is forwarded to HR Operations who will:
- record the start and end dates of the arrangement in the University's payroll system; and
- place the Agreement on the employee's personnel file.
Step 8: The staff member informs their household insurer of the arrangement
The staff member is required to inform their household insurer of their working from home arrangement.
Step 9: The staff member updates their performance plan
It is recommended that a staff member with a Working from Home Agreement should record relevant details in the ‘general information' section of PDO, at the next available opportunity after the arrangement has commenced - for details see the Staff Development Procedure - Performance Development Process for Professional Staff.
Step 10: The staff member and supervisor monitor the effectiveness of the arrangement
The staff member and supervisor should regularly discuss and monitor the working from home arrangement to confirm the arrangement is meeting the needs of both parties. It is recommended that these discussions also form part of PDO feedback conversations.
These discussions are important because there may be unforeseen issues that need to be addressed during the term of the Agreement.
The following arrangements will apply:
- When entering into a Working from Home Agreement, the staff member and supervisor are required to agree on methods and a schedule for monitoring the arrangement.
- In addition, both parties should be able to raise any issues at any time so they can be addressed promptly.
- The staff member and supervisor should discuss any issues that may arise and agree on ways to improve the arrangement. The Working from Home Review Checklist may help guide the discussion.
- Whilst both parties are asked to maintain a flexible approach, the supervisor is not obliged to agree to changes if doing so would have a negative impact on the staff member's colleagues and/or their work load, service delivery and/or performance.
- If changes are made to the arrangement (e.g. changes in working days, frequency of working from home), please advise your HR Business Partner who will help determine if any follow up action is required (e.g. organising a new OHS assessment).
Step 11: HR Hub notifies of pending expiry of Working from Home Agreement
- Workforce Information & Organisational Structure will generate a report from SAP listing each of the Working from Home Agreements due to expire in the next eight weeks.
- The report will be sent to the Manager, Employee Assistance who will then distribute the information to the relevant HR Hubs.
- The HR Business Partner will then advise the supervisor and staff member of the pending expiry of the Working from Home Agreement, with at least four weeks notice.
Step 12: Reviewing the arrangement
Working from Home Agreements are reviewed in the following circumstances:
- prior to the expiry of the Agreement (including trial arrangements); or
- in the event that the arrangement is not working as it should and the issue has not been rectified through ‘monitoring' discussions (see Step 10 above).
The Review Checklist should be used to facilitate the review discussion between the staff member and supervisor and to document/advise of the outcomes.
The supervisor should assess each application for renewal on its merits. Working from home is not an automatic entitlement and having an arrangement in place over previous years will not guarantee future arrangements.
Reviews may also be required in either of the following circumstances:
- In the event the staff member moves into another role (at the same or a different HEW level). The Suitability Checklist should be used to check whether the new role is suited to working from home.
- In the event that there are changes to the home-based work site e.g. the staff member moves house, the house is being renovated or is damaged. In this event, a new OHS assessment is likely to be required and the arrangement should only continue if/when the home-based work site is assessed as safe. Please contact your HR Business Partner to arrange this.
Potential outcomes of reviews are outlined in Step 13.
Step 13: Renewing or terminating a working from home arrangement
As a result of the review, the supervisor may decide to do one of the following:
- Renew the arrangement, with the same or varied terms e.g. fewer days working from home, different monitoring arrangements. Renewed arrangements are subject to a further OHS assessment of the home-based work site. If the arrangement is being renewed on exactly the same terms and conditions, the Review Checklist can be used as the renewal documentation rather than completing a new Working from Home Agreement. A new Working from Home Agreement is required if changes are being made to the arrangement.
- Terminate the arrangement, by providing the staff member with at least four weeks notice. Prior to communicating this decision to the staff member, it is recommended that the supervisor discuss the decision with Workplace Relations via their HR Business Partner, particularly if the staff member has the working home arrangement in place on the basis of parental or carer responsibilities.
The arrangement can also be terminated by the staff member by providing four weeks notice (or less if agreed with the supervisor).
The staff member is responsible for:
- maintaining a flexible approach;
- allowing representatives from the University's external provider to conduct an OHS assessment of their home-based work site and surrounds;
- performing all duties and delivering on outcomes whilst working from home;
- being contactable at all times whilst working from home;
- complying with the terms and conditions of this Procedure and the Working from Home Agreement entered into with the supervisor;
- advising their household insurer of the working from home arrangement;
- including mention of the working from home arrangement in the general information section of PDO;
- participating in ongoing discussions/reviews with the supervisor about the effectiveness of the arrangement, being receptive to feedback and taking steps to improve the arrangement/their working style; and
- advising the supervisor of any changes to, or affecting the, home-based work site.
The supervisor is responsible for:
- assessing each Working from Home application on its merits (the Suitability Checklist is designed to assist with this);
- responding to the staff member's initial, informal request to work from home within 21 days and consulting with the Head of Unit and Director, Workplace Relations before declining any requests on the basis of parental/carer responsibilities;
- maintaining a flexible approach;
- ensuring an OHS assessments of the home based work site are carried out as required;
- properly supervising the staff member during the work from home arrangement;
- conducting ongoing discussions/reviews of the arrangement (including its impact on other staff) and providing feedback to the staff member to improve the arrangement's effectiveness;
- reviewing the arrangement prior to the end of its term and/or if circumstances change;
- advising the HR Business Partner of any changes to the arrangement during its duration;
- renewing/terminating the arrangement; and
- conferring with the Director, Workplace Relations via the HR Business Partner about any proposed termination of a Working from Home arrangement.
Head of Unit
The Head of Unit is responsible for:
- discussing Working from Home applications with the supervisor and where applicable, the Lead/HR Business Partner;
- notifying the Lead HR Business Partner of any working from home applications from parents/carers that are likely to be refused; and
- approving Working from Home Agreements; and
- conferring with the Director, Workplace Relations via the HR Business Partner about any proposed termination of a Working from Home arrangement.
Director, Workplace Relations
The Director, Workplace Relations (or nominee) is responsible for:
- providing advice to the Lead HR Business Partner and supervisor in relation to any working from home applications from parents/carers that are likely to be refused or terminated;
- assisting the supervisor in developing the written advice to a staff member applying to work from home on the basis of parental/carer responsibilities that their application has been refused (or providing a nominee to do so);
- accompanying the supervisor when advising a staff member applying to work from home on the basis of parental/carer responsibilities that their application has been declined (or providing a nominee to do so);
- signing Working from Home Agreements to confirm that the correct process has been followed.
HR Business Partner
The HR Business Partner is responsible for:
- providing advice and support to clients in relation to working from home arrangements;
- liaising with the Manager, Employee Assistance to arrange OHS assessments of home-based work sites and supporting implementation of outcomes;
- ensuring Working from Home Agreements are signed by all relevant parties and are forwarded to HR Operations for details to be recorded in SAP; and
- based on reports provided by Workforce Information & Organisational Structure via the Manager, Employee Assistance, advising supervisors of pending working from home end dates (with at least four weeks notice);
- working with clients to arrange renewals and cessations of Agreements; and
- assisting with any dispute resolution (in conjunction with the Director, Workplace Relations).
Manager, Employee Assistance
The Manager, Employee Assistance is responsible for:
- managing the contracts and relationships with the external providers of ergonomic and injury management services;
- working with the HR Business Partner to arrange OHS assessments of home-based work sites;
- interpreting results and discussing with the supervisor/HR Business Partner any concerns, recommended modifications and required equipment; and/or
- receiving reports on Working From Home Agreement end dates from Workforce Information & Organisational Structure and forwarding these on to the HR Hubs to advise supervisors.
HR Operations are responsible for:
- entering details of working from home arrangements in SAP; and
- placing a copy of the Working from Home Agreement on employee's personnel file.
Workforce Information & Organisational Structure:
Workforce Information & Organisational Structure is responsible for:
- generating a monthly report from SAP, listing each of the Working from Home Agreements due to expire in the next eight weeks; and
- providing the report to the Manager, Employee Assistance.
5. Related Policies
6. Related Procedures
7. Related Enterprise Agreement Clauses
8. Related Documents
||19 September 2012
||Director, Workplace Relations
||Executive Director, Monash HR