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Working Alone, in Isolation or from Home

Policy

The purpose of this policy is to ensure the safety, health and security of Department employees who are working alone or in isolation, including working from home.

Summary

  • The Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act 2004 (Vic) requires the Department, so far as is reasonably practicable, to provide and maintain for employees a working environment that is safe and without risks to health — this includes all sites where employees are working, including when working from home.
  • The principal and/or their delegate, in consultation with relevant employees, must ensure that a Flexible Work Agreement is in place where applicable, and that risks associated with working alone, in isolation, from home or after hours are assessed and managed.
  • Under the OHS Act 2004, employees while at work must take reasonable care for their own health and safety and the safety of others who may be affected by their actions or omissions.
  • Central and regional offices provide a range of supports and services to assist principals and employees to be safe and well, including access to the OHS Advisory Service and local regional officers who can provide free advice on how to manage risks when working alone, in isolation or from home.
  • The Working Alone, in Isolation or from Home Procedure (in the Procedure tab) must be followed, and sets out the practical step-by-step instructions for implementing this policy.
  • This Policy forms part of the Department’s OHS Management System, refer to OHS Management System (OHSMS) — Employee Health, safety and Wellbeing for further information.

Details

The principal and/or their delegate must ensure that:

  • a mutually agreed Flexible Work Agreement (Word), in consultation with employee(s), is put in place in accordance with the Department’s Flexible Work in Schools Guidelines (Word) and signed by the principal or their delegate and the employee(s)
  • the proposed Flexible Work Agreement is assessed against the school’s requirements
  • prior to commencement of a Flexible Work Agreement the following provisions are met:
    • tasks performed are relevant to the employee’s role and must not include work associated with potential health and safety risks
    • safe access and egress to the work location is available
    • there is no evidence of risk from fire, chemical or other environmental hazards in or near the workplace
  • for employees with a life-threatening medical condition, the opinion of the employee’s treating medical practitioner is sought, and the views of that employee are considered, and associated risk management forms are utilised to assess the level of risk in accordance with the OHS Risk Management Procedure
  • prior to allowing employees to work alone, in isolation, at home or after hours, a risk assessment is undertaken in accordance with the OHS Risk Management Procedure
  • competency requirements for specific tasks are determined and only employees deemed competent for all the required tasks are permitted to work alone, in isolation, from home or after hours
  • the names of all employees working after hours are recorded in the Register of Employees Permitted to Work Alone or in Isolation Form (Word) and this is maintained
  • all employees complete the Department’s Workstation Risk Assessment Template (Word) when setting up their workstation at home
  • employees conduct regular inspections of the workplace where required using Department’s Workstation Risk Assessment template
  • a three month period for the Flexible Work Agreement is trialled to assess the effectiveness of the arrangements and to provide an opportunity for fine tuning
  • the Flexible Work Agreement is reviewed at least two weeks prior to the end date of the trial period in order to confirm the success or otherwise of the arrangements, confirm the continuation of the arrangements and to identify any changes that may be required
  • the Flexible Work Agreement can be terminated at any time during the trial period (providing at least two weeks’ notice is given in writing) if an employee’s performance is unsatisfactory or the needs of the school have changed or not been met

Employees entering into a Flexible Work Agreement are responsible for undertaking any improvements or modifications to the remote workplace based on the requirements in this policy and procedure. 

Employees, with a life-threatening medical condition must seek in writing the approval of the principal prior to working after hours or alone.

Definitions

Flexible work
Performing part of the employee’s work at a remote workplace (e.g. home, library) during the designated work hours on a regular basis, using electronic communication on a regular basis.

Flexible Work Agreement
Once a proposal for flexible work arrangements has been accepted, principals and the employee work towards the completion of a Flexible Work Agreement using the Department’s Flexible Work Agreement template.

The Agreement confirms mutual understanding of the specific arrangements in each case, OHS regulations and legal responsibilities. The Agreement is a record of the terms and conditions and defines the responsibilities and obligations of both parties.

The Department’s Flexible Work Agreement addresses the following areas:

  • variation to terms of employment
  • commencement and Review of agreement
  • trial period
  • work arrangements
  • communication
  • security
  • occupational health & safety
  • child / dependent care
  • access to remote workplace
  • insurance and Indemnity
  • email/internet policy
  • equipment and supplies
  • reimbursement of expenses
  • performance management and review
  • termination of telecommuting agreement

Working alone or in isolation
A person is deemed to be working alone or in isolation when they cannot be seen or heard by another person and have limited means of communication for an extended period of time.

Working alone or in isolation may include working from home, working in limited access areas (example: working in a filing room with limited contact with others) or working over holiday breaks.

Relevant legislation

Department policy on ensuring the safety, health and security of Department employees who are working alone or in isolation, including working from home

Reviewed 04 March 2021

Policy last updated

15 June 2020

Scope

  • Schools

Contact

OHS Advisory Service

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