Consequences From Employees Working From Home – - Freelance Rack

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Saturday, August 8, 2020

Consequences From Employees Working From Home –

Covid-19 will make a significant difference to the New Zealand economy and has highlighted the following issues related to the present law:

(a) Employees working from home

The home where an employee is “working” is a “workplace” as defined in s. 20 of the Health & Safety at Work Act 2015.

If an employee who is required or permitted to work from home suffers an accidental injury while working, it will be a “work injury” as defined in s.20 of the Health & Safety at Work Act 2015. Section 23 includes a list of “notifiable injuries or illnesses” which are covered by the Act and could include Covid-19.

(b) Workplace Health and Safety at Work Act 2015

The employer will be responsible as a PCBU (Person Conducting a Business Activity) under s.20 of the Act, if the work area in which the employee is working at home, does not comply with at least the equivalent health and safety standards of the normal place of work provided by the employer where that employee usually works. Under current law the employer could face prosecution and significant fines have been imposed by the Courts.

(c) ACC Experience Rating system

If the ACC is operating an experience rating system, an ACC claim for a work injury that occurred at the employee’s home will be recorded against the employer’s claims record of as a work injury and could result in an increased levy or a penalty.

Although liable, the employer has no legal right to enter and inspect the place in the private home where the employee is working or intends to work or insist on up-grades to meet health and safety requirements.

It will be difficult for an employer to investigate a claim for a “work injury” without the legal authority to enter and inspect the employees home “workplace” and examine the evidence supporting the claim.

Work practices have changed significantly since the passing of the 2015 Act and the current law needs to be reviewed.

Don Rennie

Former Convenor

NZLS ACC Committee

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