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Employer information - COVID19

As with all things that are done at speed, there are things that get missed.

It would be useful to recap the rules and the risks as we settle into the next week.

1. Working from home 

If they have agreed to work from home, review the arrangement and check how it’s working.

Tips for working from home:

  • Meet regularly – Communication is most important. Provide regular one to one meetings (via phone, Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Team or even the Houseparty app) regularly and also catch up in virtual teams if possible.
  • Monitor workflow, record keeping and times of work.
  • Require flexible workers to keep accurate time records of what they are working on and the amount of time spent on each project or task.
  • Monitor work regularly to ensure your flexible workers are producing the expected quality.
  • Check up on your workers’ mental well-being. Lockdown and working from home can be very stressful for some people in unique situations.

Make sure you are aware of any stress due to meeting time and juggling lockdown tasks with family needs.

Guidelines for staff working from home:

  • Set boundaries – what can they work on – what is not critical.
  • Preparing their workspace – make sure they have a dedicated space and they have what they need to work safely.
  • Preparing for the day – set up and start each day with a routine – just like they are going to work.
SBA Small business accounting New Zealand COVID19 Employer information

2. Health and Safety 

Even though they are working from home, you still have obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015:

Employers must ensure the health and safety of workers during COVID-19 as far as reasonably practicable.

A home is now a place of work, so the employer is responsible for managing risks.

  • Ergonomics and workspace – do they have the equipment they need to work from home safely?
  • Audit of workspace – Ask employees to take photos of the workspace and send them to you so you can ensure it meets H&S requirements. If you are concerned, talk to them about other options or ways of managing working from home.
  • Keep track of hours to reduce the risk of stress/burnout. Make sure the team know to take breaks and to manage their time.
  • Communicate about risks. Be proactive around communicating the concerns you have and get the team to share ideas for working safely at home.
  • Share guidelines and tips on how to make it work.
  • Employers must not risk others’ health and safety from work carried out as part of conduct as far as reasonably practicable (e.g customers, clients, suppliers).
  • Employers must minimise the spread of infection (e.g through policies around sick leave and self-isolation, basic hygiene measures). Remind them of the need to keep isolating and washing hands etc.
  • Ideally, restrict activity to only what is essential during the Alert Level 4 period.

It would be a good idea to send a weekly email out to the team regarding health and safety in the home.

3. Working from home policy 

If you don’t have one – now is a good time to develop it.

Working from home policy – for COVID-19 Lockdown.
It should include things like:

  • Consultation prior to working from home (e.g whether can work usual hours).
  • Health and safety.
  • Audits on the workspace (get them to share a photo of their workstation).
  • How to reduce the risk of infection at home.
  • How to reduce stress and who to contact if stressed or have mental health issues.
  • Productivity and hours: Require keeping records, timekeeping.
  • When an employee must remain contactable.
  • Any changes to billable/sales targets.
  • Supervision: Regular and frequent catch-ups with the manager.

It might also include:

  • Fun ways of connecting.
  • Lockdown playlists.
  • Team virtual drinks on Fridays.
  • Dress up days.
  • Sharing what we are doing with downtime.
  • Shared virtual lunches.

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