WHS-PRO-026 Workplace Rehabilitation Working from Home Procedure
To provide JCU Management and JCU Workers with a process to follow when considering a medical recommendation to work from home while participating in a workplace rehabilitation program. The purpose of this procedure is to outline the factors to consider when determining suitability of a working from home request, highlight considerations from a Work Health and Safety perspective, and provide a framework for implementing these arrangements.
This procedure relates to:
- all paid JCU staff such as continuing, fixed term contract and casual Academic and Professional and Technical Staff Members, and;
- eligible HDR students,
who are injured and undergoing a workplace rehabilitation program, regardless of whether the injury was acquired at work or elsewhere..
This procedure does not apply to Undergraduate or Masters Students, or other affiliates i.e. adjuncts, contractors and volunteers.
Injury: Includes a physical injury, aggravation of a pre-existing condition, psychiatric or psychological disorder. This definition is also taken to include acute and chronic illnesses. An injury may be work related or non-work related.
Rehabilitation: A process designed to ensure the Worker’s earliest possible return to work and/or maximise the Worker’s independent functioning. Rehabilitation may include suitable duties plans, necessary and reasonable treatment services provided by registered persons, services approved by an insurer or the provision of necessary and reasonable aids or equipment.
Supervisor: The person who is responsible for Workers, the allocation of tasks to Workers and/or the oversight of JCU HDR students during teaching and learning activities including field trips.
WHS IPaMA: The Work Health and Safety Injury Prevention and Management Advisor is a JCU staff member who is appropriately qualified to perform the functions of a Rehabilitation and Return to Work Coordinator (RRTWC) under the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act2003 (The Act) and has the functions prescribed under the Regulation. The IPaMA facilitates all workplace rehabilitation programs
Worker: A Worker is ‘a person who works under a contract and, in relation to the work, is an employee for the purpose of assessment for PAYG withholding under the Taxation Administration Act 1953 (Commonwealth), schedule 1, part 2-5’.
Please note: Under The Act, certain Higher Degree by Research students who are in receipt of stipends are deemed Workers.
Working from home: Refers to regular, frequent or repeated completion of work duties from a Worker’s nominated residential household.
Workplace rehabilitation: A system of rehabilitation that is initiated or managed by the employer, and includes temporary changes to a Worker’s work arrangements i.e. working modified hours and/or duties.
Working from home is a temporary working arrangement which may be incorporated into a workplace rehabilitation program upon receipt of medical advice and upon approval by the appropriate level of management of the Work Unit. The focus of this document is on elements of Work Health and Safety, to meet JCU’s obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, however operational business needs and staffing requirements should also be taken into consideration.
In circumstances where JCU receive medical advice indicating that an injured Worker would benefit from working from home, management is to consider whether this is reasonably practicable with reference to the work from home considerations outlined below. Should the Supervisor agree, the WHS IPaMA will incorporate working from home into the workplace rehabilitation program and Suitable Duties Plans.
1. Work from Home Considerations
1.1 Work Health and Safety
Under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, JCU is required to provide employees with a safe work environment. In most instances, that workplace is on campus. However, if approved to work from home, the Worker’s home office becomes their workplace during those working hours. As such, JCU is to consider work, health and safety factors when making a decision about whether to approve a work from home request. JCU may be liable for any incidents or injuries that occur as a result of working from home, in line with the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003, provided work is considered a substantial contributing factor to the injury and the injury meets all other requirements under the Act.
The WHS IPaMA is responsible for ensuring that the JCU Work from Home Checklist is completed by the Worker and approved by the appropriate level of management of the Work Unit. This checklist includes information about workstation ergonomics, electrical safety, fire safety, personal security, communication and medical needs. Should any risk to work health and safety be identified, appropriate controls are to be implemented prior to commencing work from home.
The work Health and Safety team is available for assistance during this process, and recommend that approval to work from home should only occur if the Manager and Injury Prevention and Management Advisor are satisfied that the Worker has met the James Cook University work health and safety requirements and identified risks are appropriately controlled.
1.2 Business Needs
The Supervisor responsible for making a decision on whether working from home can be accommodated should take into consideration the operational needs specific to the Work Unit, including: customer or student facing roles, provision or access to equipment and resources, or other factors that may affect productivity.
The Supervisor responsible for making a decision on whether working from home can be accommodated should also take into consideration staffing factors such as the impact the change may have on team dynamics and team output, involvement in team communications, potential for workplace isolation issues, individual work output and supervision.
The characteristics of the Worker’s position should be considered when determining appropriateness of working from home. Consideration should include the Worker’s current work performance, their ability to work autonomously and their classification level of employment.
A Worker’s position should be one that is conducive to working from home i.e. should not require frequent face to face contact, and should not require the servicing, serving or use of University facilities or assets. The approving Supervisor may identify additional characteristics of the role which are deemed unsuitable for home based work.
1.5 Provision of Equipment
The University supplies its Workers with the necessary equipment to perform their role in their designated work area. If working from home is approved the Worker is responsible for either;
- The safe and appropriate transport and storage of JCU’s equipment, or;
- The provision of their own equipment.
In circumstances where the Worker has temporarily taken JCU equipment off campus the appropriate approval must be obtained and documented on the JCU Work from Home Checklist.
The Worker is responsible for understanding and adhering to all applicable JCU Policies and Procedures.
2. Workplace Rehabilitation Programs
Agreement to work from home whilst recovering from injury (see definition above) is a temporary arrangement that may form part of a workplace rehabilitation program. All workplace rehabilitation programs are to be developed by the WHS Injury Prevention and Management Advisor (IPaMA), in consultation with the injured Worker, Management and treating Doctor. Workplace rehabilitation programs are developed in line with the Health Management Procedure.
Where medical advice indicates that workplace rehabilitation is to include working from home, consultation is to be had with the appropriate level of management as to the suitability of this arrangement in line with section 1.1 to 1.5 above. The Supervisor is to notify the Worker and IPaMA as to whether the option to work from home can proceed. If approved, working from home is to commence once the Worker’s home workstation meets all the requirements on the JCU Work from Home Checklist and any identified corrective actions are in place.
Work from home arrangements made in relation to injuries are to be reviewed regularly, with the frequency of the review depending on the nature of the injury and its prognosis. Given the temporary nature of workplace rehabilitation and the purpose of rehabilitation to return an individual to their maximal function, it is expected that work from home arrangements will cease once the Worker has sufficiently recovered from their injury.
2.1 Work-related Injury
This section relates to Workers who have sustained a work related injury and have an active workers compensation claim. The Worker is to provide medical advice regarding their injury and capacity to work ( or a Workers’ Compensation Medical Certificate).
Should the medical advice indicate that working from home will be beneficial to a Worker’s rehabilitation, the appropriate level of management is to consider the request in light of the work, health and safety factors, business needs, and other factors outlined above. Consultation is to occur between the Worker, Management and IPaMA regarding risks of working from home specific to the Worker’s Injury.
To proceed, the Worker is to complete the JCU Work from Home Checklist. The Worker is responsible for meeting the requirements set out in the checklist, however reasonable costs associated with implementation of workstation adjustments may be paid through the workers’ compensation claim.
If approved, working from home is to commence once the Worker’s home workstation meets all the requirements on the JCU Work from Home Checklist and any identified corrective actions are in place. Working from home is to be documented as part of the Worker’s workplace rehabilitation program, and if required, further medical information may need to be sought prior to commencing and during the arrangement.
2.2 Non-work related Injury
JCU will provide workplace rehabilitation programs relating to non-work related injuries where possible. The Worker is to provide medical advice regarding their injury and capacity to work to their Supervisor and the WHS IPaMA using JCU’s Work Capabilities Form .
Should medical advice indicate that working from home will be beneficial to their recovery, the approving Supervisor is to consider the request in light of the work, health and safety factors, business needs, and other factors outlined above. Consultation is to occur between the Worker, Management and the WHS IPaMA regarding risks of working from home specific to the Worker’s injury.
To proceed, the Worker is to complete the JCU Work from Home Checklist and is responsible for meeting the requirements set out in the checklist, including covering any costs associated.
If approved, working from home is to commence once the Worker’s home workstation meets all the requirements on the JCU Work from Home Checklist and any identified corrective actions are in place. Working from home is to be documented as part of the Worker’s workplace rehabilitation program, and if required, further medical information may need to be sought prior to commencing the arrangement.
3. Review of Agreement
Working from home as part of a workplace rehabilitation program is designed to be a temporary work arrangement, in place for a set period of time as part of workplace rehabilitation, or whilst other alternatives are being investigated, with the aim that a Worker can return to a JCU worksite.
Working from home arrangements are to be reviewed as frequently as required depending on workplace rehabilitation progress, medical capacity and the Worker’s pre-injury duties.
For individuals whose injury is chronic in nature, the agreement should be reviewed quarterly, or in line with the frequency of flare ups of the condition.
Requests for permanent working from home arrangements are to be discussed with Human Resources.
4. Declining, amending or cancelling working from home arrangements
- JCU Management have the right to decline, amend or cancel working from home arrangements. Factors outlined in sections 1.1 – 1.5 will be taken into account when considering applications to work from home or when reviewing a working from home arrangement. Other factors to be considered include, but are not limited to: When agreed expectations and work duties are not being met;
- When the Worker or their role is deemed unsuitable;
- Business needs or other factors limit the success of the arrangement;
- There is a negative impact to the workplace, productivity or team dynamics;
- There is a risk identified which the University is unable to control or unwilling to accept;
- When medical evidence no longer prevents a Worker from returning to the workplace.
The Worker’s Supervisor will decide whether to accept, decline, amend or cancel a working from home arrangement in consultation with the WHS IPaMA. The Supervisor will provide the Worker with written notice of the decision.
There are no allowances paid by JCU to Workers who work from home.
Related policy instruments and legislation
NOTE: Printed copies of this procedure are uncontrolled, and currency can only be assured at the time of printing.
DVC Services and Resources
Date for next Major Review
Procedure established to provide a process for working from home as part of a workplace rehabilitation program
Manager, Work Health and Safety
Working from home, home workstation checklist, workplace rehabilitation