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When work from home isn’t safe

By CCIWA Editor

WA's proposed code of practice on violence at work will soon consider how work from home may impact domestic violence victims. But what does that mean for employers?

Getting on the front foot with DV

COVID-19 has shifted the dial on work from home for many businesses, from an opt-in arrangement to a compulsory requirement. While in WA most staff have now returned to the office, the proportion of staff working from home remains high. 

The WA Police identified that call outs for family violence increased by 5 per cent during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

CCIWA's Principal Workplace Relations Advocate Paul Moss says it is paramount businesses understand what they must, and can, do to help keep staff working from home safe.

"Domestic violence is so pervasive that it potentially impacts on all sectors of the community, irrespective of profession, educational background, or socioeconomic status, so all employees are potentially at risk."

Domestic violence and working from home

  • The draft Code of Practice on Violence and Aggression at Work identifies DV as a potential workplace safety consideration.
  • Employers must take reasonable steps to make sure workers have a safe working-from-home environment.
  • Domestic violence may be exacerbated by working from home.

A recent New South Wales Supreme Court ruling that upheld a workers compensation claim on behalf of a worker who was killed by her partner while at home has also spotlighted the issue.

Code changes

CCIWA is involved in developing a draft code of practice aimed at helping businesses manage the risk of violence and aggression at work.

The code includes practical steps employers can take to minimise the risk resulting from domestic violence, such as:

  • providing information to all employees regarding domestic violence and how to seek support;
  • knowing the signs of someone experiencing domestic violence, including changes in appearances, behaviour and communication style;
  • communicating regularly and safely with staff;
  • developing a safety plan for those working at home who are experiencing domestic violence;
  • considering alternative places for the employee to perform work.

The draft Code of Practice on Violence and Aggression at Work is currently open for public consultation. The draft and includes information on managing the risk of other forms of violence and aggression at the workplace. If you have any comments on the draft code, please contact Paul Moss at paul.moss@cciwa.com.

WA's proposed code of practice on violence at work will soon consider how work from home may impact domestic violence victims. But what does that mean for employers?
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