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Employee Wellbeing - Working from Home Procedure

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Section 1 - Summary

(1) This Procedure outlines the specific terms and conditions for a Working From Home  Arrangement (WFHA), including how to apply, implement and monitor the WFHA. 

(2) This Procedure is to be read in conjunction with the Employee Wellbeing - Flexible Work Arrangements Procedure.

(3) This Procedure will be reviewed by no later than 26 April 2023.

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Section 2 - TEQSA/ASQA/ESOS Alignment

(4) HESF: 2.3 Wellbeing and Safety

(5) Standards for Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) 2015 (Cth): Standard 8

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Section 3 - Scope

(6) This Procedure applies to employees who wish to apply to work under a WFHA at a location other than their designated location of work (e.g. campus/site) known as working from home for the purposes of this procedure.

(7) A WFHA application may be made as follows:

  1. A full time employee may apply to work from home up to a maximum of 40% of the hours of their employment, i.e. 2 days a week.
  2. A part time employee, may apply to work from home up to a maximum of 40% of the time fraction of their employment.

(8) A WFHA may be approved for a defined period up to a maximum period of twelve (12) months, or a defined period up to a maximum term of a fixed-term contract (if less than 12 months). Fixed-term contracts that are renewed during this period, will require a new WFHA application.

(9) During a period of approved WFHA, an employee of the University remains bound to comply with the University’s statutes, regulations and policies. University statute, regulation and policy may be varied, replaced or withdrawn by the University in accordance with the ordinary governance of the University and can be obtained through the University’s intranet site.

(10) This Procedure acknowledges that Academic and TAFE Teachers have an accepted level of flexibility to work, both on and off campus during the course of their employment, however Deans, Academic staff and TAFE Teachers are strongly encouraged to discuss which delivery and/or attendance options provides the most enhanced student experience and effective operational arrangements to support the student experience .

(11) Research-only employees are encouraged to discuss with their manager where their research may be undertaken.

(12) If a WFHA arrangement is not deemed suitable for an employees’ particular requirements, they are encouraged to discuss this with their manager and P&C Business Partner and consider other alternative flexibility options which are available under the Enterprise Agreement(s) and other university policies.

General Exclusions

(13) Some roles are generally considered not suitable or not appropriate for working from an alternative location and must be performed on campus.

(14) These roles normally, but are not limited to:

  1. require face-to-face interaction with students and clients;
  2. require close supervision of other employees;
  3. cannot be performed effectively without accessing information, facilities and/or on premise systems
  4. require access to on campus activities/programs/events
  5. require access to confidential and commercially sensitive material
  6. require participation in specific university activities (e.g. Final Fridays, Open Day, Graduations, etc.)

(15) All VU roles are student-focused, even if not directly student-facing. 

(16) Activities timetabled on campus and in person must be delivered on campus and in person. 

(17) Employees who benefit from a RDO (Rostered Day Off) arrangement are not eligible to apply for a WFHA. 

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Section 4 - Definitions

(18) Nil.

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Section 5 - Policy/Regulation

(19) Employee Wellbeing Policy

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Section 6 - Procedures

Part A -  Summary of Roles and Responsibilities

Roles Responsibilities
Employee Discuss requests for WFHA with Manager for up to 40% of ordinary hours and formalise the request  in writing.
Undertake WFHA arrangements in accordance with this Procedure. 
Chief Human Resources Officer Determine, in extraordinary circumstances, requests from Employees who wish to apply to work at an interstate or international location on a temporary basis.
Managers Consider applications for WFHAs of up to 40% of an employee’s normal working time. Make a decision on basis of the impact of the WFHA on the business operations and the employee’s ability to perform all aspects (inherent requirements) of the role while working remotely.
Managers Supervisor Determine reviews of decision in regards to WFHA on process.

Part B - Guiding Principles

(20) The University remains committed to policies and procedures which encourage and support flexible working arrangements in the workplace and in the home.

(21) The University recognises that there are circumstances where a WFHA may assist employees to balance their work, family, health and other responsibilities.

(22) The University also acknowledges that it is not always appropriate or practical for an employee to carry out all or part of their duties from home, particularly when students are on campus, and for specific research, teaching and partnerships activities.

(23) The University provides for and encourages work location flexibility and supports its employees to work on campus and at home where the role and/or the service delivery model allows. This enables the benefits of on campus team collaboration with the flexibility of working from home.

(24) The University recognises that each department, team and individual employee circumstance varies and therefore this Procedure is not intended to cover every operational or individual circumstance however is to be used to guide discussions between employees and their managers on how to implement working from home arrangements in their area or team.

Part C - OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

(25) Each request for a WFHA shall be discussed and agreed in writing between the Manager and Employee.

(26) Employees and Managers shall discuss the preferred arrangements for both individuals and teams and must take into consideration the workload of the entire team and the quality of the student experience and/or operational needs of the University to ensure services can be delivered at all times.

Leadership and Supervisory Roles

(27) Those employees who are in a leadership or supervisory role, must also consider and balance personal flexibility with any potential impact on other team member’s workloads, supporting the team, team cohesion, attending key meetings/events and contributing to an on-campus collaborative work environment.

On-Campus Requirements

(28) There will be occasions where attendance is required on-campus on a day that an employee would normally be working from home. It is expected that they will make themselves available to work on-campus in such circumstances.

Carer Responsibilities

(29) Employees are responsible for ensuring that child care or dependent care arrangements are in place whilst working from home in order to not impact an employees’ ability to undertake their role and participate in university activities at the same standard as on- campus employees.  

Working from a location that is interstate or from an international location

(30) Working from an interstate or international location is not a working from home arrangement under this Procedure and is not available to all employees at this time. Employees who wish to apply to work at an interstate or international location on a temporary basis, will only be considered in extraordinary circumstances, and must be approved by the Chief Human Resources Officer. Employees should discuss their situation with their Manager and P&C Business Partner and have approval from their manager and the manager’s manager prior to submitting their request.

Current Flexible Working Arrangements

(31) A request for a WFHA will take into consideration any other forms of approved flexible working or attendance arrangements currently in place at the time of application and may be refused on that basis. 

(32) This includes, but is not limited to:

  1. Reduced time fractions, 
  2. Job sharing arrangements, 
  3. Purchased Leave Arrangements,
  4. Compressed working weeks, 
  5. Flexible start and finish time. 

(33) These must be declared when applying for a WFHA.

(34) Employees who benefit from a RDO (Rostered Day Off) arrangement are not eligible to apply for a WFHA.

Part D - APPROVING THE APPLICATION

(35) Managers will work with individuals and teams and consider all applications from employees who apply for a WFHA, ensuring an appropriate balance for the entire team has been considered and that there is sufficient on campus employee coverage for university services that are required to be delivered.

(36) Managers are authorised to approve WFHAs of up to 40% of an employee’s normal working time. In reviewing the application, Managers may assess and consider, among other matters, the following:

  1. if the role can be performed from home and will meet the operational requirements and/or service delivery requirements;
  2. impact on student experience
  3. overall team service coverage
  4. other approved flexibility, or attendance arrangements; and
  5. completion of the Working Safely from Home OH&S module and satisfying the requirements of the Working from Home checklist.

(37) If approved, the Manager will communicate the approval of the application to the employee, and the arrangement will commence from the agreed date.

(38) Employees and Managers are to record the WFHA via the approved form as a way of the University maintaining records for each arrangement. People & Culture will require a copy of the WFHA arrangement.

Refusing the Application

(39) Managers are authorised to refuse an application for a WFHA where approved it would have an adverse impact on the business operations. The Manager will communicate the decision to the employee directly and in writing.

Review of a Decision

(40) Where an employee has been refused an application for a WFHA they may seek to have the decision reviewed on process. The review will be conducted by the Managers’ Supervisor.

(41) The employee must provide sufficient detail on the process to enable their Manager’s Supervisor to undertake a review.

Working from Home Arrangement Review

(42) The employee and Manager are encouraged to meet regularly to discuss the WFHA to ensure it continues to meet the needs of both the University and the employee. The WFHA must be reviewed on at least a quarterly basis.

(43) A Manager may cease the WFHA, if the arrangement is not working and/or formal reviews have not rectified any substantive performance or business issue by giving the employee at least four weeks’ notice in writing.

Varying the Agreement

(44) WFHAs may be varied at any time at the University’s discretion, in consultation with the employee and by providing at least four weeks' notice.

(45) If there is a need to vary the arrangement, an employee will be required to discuss this with their Manager and reach agreement on the new arrangement. The change must be formalised by completing a new WFHA which will supersede the existing arrangement. Changes that would negatively impact service delivery, the team and/or the work, and/or ability to perform the role will not be approved.

(46) A WFHA is not transferable from one position to another. If an employee secures a new position, they must re-apply for a new WFHA with their new manager.

Renewing the Agreement

(47) If an employee wishes to renew their WFHA, they will be required to apply for renewal at least 6 weeks prior to the expiry of the term of their arrangement.

Cancelling the Agreement

(48) A WFHA can be cancelled at any time at the University’s discretion, in consultation with the employee and by giving the employee at least four weeks' written notice.

(49) The arrangement may be ended at the employee’s initiative and in writing, by mutual agreement with their Manager.

Part E - WORKING FROM HOME WORKSPACE SET UP & EXPECTATIONS

(50) When working from home, employees are required to perform and participate at the same standard as on-campus employees, and are responsible for achieving the required work outputs and effectively managing their time.

(51) When working from home, employees are expected to be available during normal working hours to make and receive phone calls and or attend meetings as required.  

(52) Employees are expected to work their ordinary hours or unless flexibility has been otherwise agreed under the Enterprise Agreement or other flexible work arrangements as defined in university policy.

(53) The Manager is responsible for effectively managing the team while working remotely. This may include:

  1. ensuring employees with a WFHA are included in onsite activities by other means where appropriate and/or possible (e.g. zoom links);
  2. maintaining regular contact; and
  3. setting and documenting performance expectations. 

Equipment

(54) Unless otherwise stated in the contract of employment, the University will provide an employee who is working from home with one University enabled laptop for use under the WFHA. The provision of laptops will be considered based on hardware availability and budgetary constraints. Transitional arrangements may be considered if laptops are unavailable at the time of application. This should be discussed with the Manager. 

(55) If the employee requires additional specialist equipment to complete their work, this should be discussed with the Manager.

(56) Where an application for specialist equipment relates to a reasonable workplace adjustment, this should also be discussed with the Health, Safety and Wellbeing Advisor who can source specialist advice.

(57) The University will cover insurance for university provided equipment and where required, employees must make the equipment available for repairs, maintenance and return to University premises when requested.

(58) Employees are responsible for ensuring that a reliable and functional internet connection is available to conduct their work effectively and are responsible for all internet costs. If circumstances don't allow for adequate internet connectivity the employee should discuss this with their Manager and IT for advice. If they are having technical difficulties affecting their ability to perform their role in a WFHA, the employee should work on-campus until the problem is resolved or cancel the WFHA if the internet connection is unresolved or unreliable.

(59) The cost of any equipment such as personal IT equipment or home office furniture, required to set up in a WFHA are personal expenses. The University will not provide reimbursement to employees for these items.

(60) Employees are encouraged to review the ATO website for information regarding working from home items they can claim on their tax return. This includes but is not limited to:

  1. electricity expenses associated with heating, cooling and lighting the area from which they are working and running items they are using for work;
  2. phone and internet expenses;
  3. computer consumables (for example, printer paper and ink) and stationery; and
  4. home-office equipment, including computers, monitors, printers, phones, furniture and furnishings.

Part F - OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH, SAFETY AND WELLBEING

Wellbeing

(61) When working from home, it is important to look after oneself both mentally and physically and stay connected to the Manager and/or team members. Employees should ensure:

  1. they have a dedicated workspace that is set up properly and free from distractions;
  2. they develop a schedule, including periods of focused work and appropriate breaks;
  3. they participate in regular meetings and one to one conversations by phone or zoom/webex

(62) The University provides an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) which is a free professional confidential counselling service available to employees and their immediate family members to access should they need short-term support for work-related or personal reasons that may be affecting them.

Safety

(63) Before a WFHA can commence employees are expected to complete the Working Safely Remotely module and satisfying the requirements of the Working Safely Remotely Checklist. The checklist will form part of their Working From Home Request.

(64) Employees must accept responsibility for covering any costs to ensure their home location is safe and meets the requirements outlined in the Working Safely Remotely Checklist (in final section of Working Safely Remotely module).

(65) Prior to the commencement of the WFHA, employees must provide their Manager and update VU People First with their current address, current phone contact details and emergency contact details so that they can be contacted in an emergency. If contact details change during the WFHA, the employee is responsible for ensuring these are updated in a timely manner.

Workcover

(66) Employees are covered by WorkCover if they are injured whilst performing approved University work in their designated working from home location within their designated work hours.

(67) If employees sustain an injury while working from home, they must notify their Manager as soon as possible. They must also report the incident or hazard in the QuickSafe Incident Management System.