This Remote Work Policy is a guideline that regulates employees that work from a non-office location. Remote work is an arrangement between an employer and an employee authorising the employee to work from a suitable location other than the office environment or premises.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic (otherwise known as COVID-19), corporations and organisations are now forced to shut down their businesses to limit the spread of the virus, which means that many employees will start working remotely.
This policy helps employers to set their employees up to work remotely, by spelling out the responsibilities of staff during the remote work, the situations in which a remote working arrangement may be authorised, and the conditions for remote work.
In addition to this policy, for an employment agreement that is specifically tailored to remote workers during the coronavirus pandemic, consider our Coronavirus/COVID-19 Remote Work Agreement.
Please keep in mind that a Remote Work Policy is different from a Remote Work Agreement. A Remote Work Agreement is a specific contract used for just one individual and the employer. It can be negotiated and adapted for the specific employee, and will cover such details as their rate of pay, and their various duties. A Remote Work Policy on the other hand is much more general, outlining the general policies and expectations that will apply to all employees - such as the employer's general standards of conduct, any presentation standards, any basic equipment requirements, and various other matters.
Remote Work Policies are not generally intended to be contractually binding on employees. Instead, they explain the employer's general rules, procedures and expectations of employees in relation to remote work. As a consequence, if the employer fails to follow a particular policy, the employee may not be able to claim that the employer has breached its contractual obligations. However, this also means that if there are specific matters of importance, that should be legally binding on the employee (such as their specific job duties, their hours of work, confidentiality obligations, or conflict of interest obligations), then the employer should make sure that these are addressed in a legally binding document, such as an Employment Agreement, a Confidentiality Agreement or a Non-Compete Agreement.
This policy specifically deals with the conditions in relation to remote work. We have various other documents and policies which address other aspects of employment. For general employment matters, consider our Employment Agreement and our Employee Handbook.
For matters relating to employee social media use, consider our Social Media Policy.
For matters relating to the taking of temporary leave during the coronavirus pandemic, consider our Coronavirus/COVID-19 Temporary Leave Policy
For matters relating to employee drug and alcohol use, consider our Drug and Alcohol Policy.
For matters relating to employee harassment and discrimination, consider our Discrimination Policy.
How to use this document
After completing the document, the document should be provided to the employees of the organisation, either in hard copy or in electronic format. An easy way to do this is by sending a Letter to Employees About New or Updated Workplace Policies.
There is the option to have employees sign this document to acknowledge that they have received and understood it. If the employer has employees sign this document, then the employer may keep a copy, signed by the employee, on file. If the employer does not have employees sign this document, then the employer may use some other system to keep a record of which employees have received the document (such as keeping their own list of who has and has not received it).
From time to time, if the employer implements new rules or policies, it may be necessary to update this document. When this occurs, the employer may notify employees of the updates, and release a new version of the document. Some employers distribute copies of the updated document to all employees, while others simply change the "Last Updated" date on the document, and require employees to regularly check back for updates. Again, a Letter to Employees About New or Updated Workplace Policies provides and easy way to make sure that employees are aware of the changes.
The Fair Work Act 2009 (Commonwealth) applies the National Employment Standards (NES), which are a set of minimum employment standards in Australia.
In addition, each state and territory has legislation that deals with various employment matters such as occupational health and safety or discrimination. Further information is available from Safe Work Australia.
This document does not take into account the requirements of modern awards or enterprise agreements. If such an award or agreement applies, then that will set out some additional minimum standards with which the employer must comply.
General principles of contract law, as provided by the common law, may also apply.
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