Policy Directive

Department of Health, NSW 73 Miller Street North Sydney NSW 2060 Locked Mail Bag 961 North Sydney NSW 2059 Telephone (02) 9391 9000 Fax (02) 9391 9101 http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/policies/

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Flexible Work Locations Policy - NSW Department of Health
space Document Number PD2005_318 Publication date 27-Jan-2005 Functional Sub group Personnel/Workforce - Conditions of employment Summary Conditions under which staff of the Department of Health can work from home and Telecentre arrangements. Author Branch Corporate Personnel Services Branch contact Vicki Leaver 9391 9487 Applies to NSW Dept of Health Distributed to NSW Department of Health Review date 27-Jan-2010 File No. 99/8483 Previous reference 2003/52 Issue date 16-Jul-2003 Status Active

Director-General space Compliance with this policy directive is mandatory.

CIRCULAR
File No Circular No Issued Contact 99/8483 2003/52 16 July 2003 Sally Edwards (02) 9391 9487 Steve McNab (02) 9391 9504

NSW Department of Health Flexible Work Locations Policy The work from home policy has recently been reviewed. A number of changes have been made to previous procedures, most importantly the inclusion of Telecentres. This Circular supersedes Circular 96/87. This Policy applies to staff employed by the NSW Department of Health (including the Institute of Psychiatry, the Mental Health Review Tribunal and the Health Professionals’ Registration Boards). This policy does not apply to staff employed in public health organisations e.g. Area Health Services and hospitals under the Health Services Act 1997, or in the NSW Ambulance Service. POLICY STATEMENT The Department recognises that flexible work arrangements promote employment equity and enable staff to meet their work, personal and other responsibilities. The Policy includes information for staff on working from home and Telecentre arrangements. It is important that staff and managers work together to investigate opportunities for adopting flexible work arrangements. A model Flexible Work Locations Agreement is provided with this Policy and is to be used to ensure that the Flexible Work Locations process is properly implemented. Should you require further information concerning this policy please contact the Training and Equity Officer, Corporate Personnel Services on 9391 9487.

Robyn Kruk Director-General

Distributed in accordance with circular list(s): A F K 52 B G L C H M D I N E J P 73 Miller Street North Sydney NSW 2060 Locked Mail Bag 961 North Sydney NSW 2059 Telephone (02) 9391 9000 Facsimile (02) 9391 9101

In accordance with the provisions incorporated in the Accounts and Audit Determination, the Board of Directors, Chief Executive Officers and their equivalents, within a public health organisation, shall be held responsible for ensuring the observance of Departmental policy (including circulars and procedure manuals) as issued by the Minister and the Director-General of the Department of Health.

This policy has been developed because the New South Wales Department of Health recognises that flexible working arrangements promote employment equity and enable staff to meet their work, personal and other responsibilities. In developing this policy, the Department endorses the Flexible Work Practices Policy and Guidelines issued by the Premier’s Department in 1995 and demonstrates its commitment to implementing flexible work practices based on equity considerations and organisational requirements.

All staff employed by the Department (including staff employed by the Institute of Psychiatry, the Mental Health Review Tribunal and the Health Professionals’ Registration Boards) are entitled to seek approval to use a telecentre or to work from home on a short or long-term basis. Telecentre facilities are available in Gosford and Wollongong and would only be suitable for staff living close to these areas. This policy does not apply to staff employed in the Area Health Services or in the NSW Ambulance Service.

Working from home or a telecentre are options for staff whose employment circumstances prevent them from attending their usual place of work or in situations where the staff member and manager agree that it would be more appropriate for the staff member to undertake certain tasks away from the usual work environment. Working from a telecentre or from home is not a solution for a long term need to provide care to dependants.

What is working from home? Working from home involves setting up a home-based office in a staff member’s home using networked information technology and communication systems. This arrangement must comply with occupational health and safety requirements. Working from home may be on a full time or part time basis for a short or longer term.

What is a telecentre? A telecentre is a facility that provides an office setting as an alternative to the employee’s main workplace. It is a designated work site that is remote from a staff member’s normal work location and near to his or her home. Staff book the use of a workstation at the telecentre for a specified time. The telecentre is facilitated by the use of networked information technology and communication systems. A telecentre may be used on a full time or part time basis for a short or longer term.

What issues need to be considered? Requests to work from a telecentre or from home will be considered on equity and efficiency grounds and will include full consultation involving the staff member, the manager and any other appropriate staff including staff in Corporate Personnel Services Branch. Issues to be considered include the following: Whether the duties are suitable for working from another location including the type and volume of work done Whether the work can be completed without direct supervision The type and cost of equipment required by a staff member to safely undertake work from home The need to maintain quality customer service and what actions need to be undertaken by managers and staff in order to maintain services such as diverting phones to the home or telecentre Whether the staff member should be required to attend the workplace for duty at agreed intervals eg once a week and what arrangements to put in place to monitor workflow The requirement for a medical certificate stating that a staff member is able to work safely from a telecentre or from home in cases where he/she has a temporary disability making it difficult for the him/her to work from the usual work location The need to establish that the staff member working from a telecentre or from home is familiar with safe working procedures and has the information and training necessary to do the work safely

Providing staff working in a telecentre and from home with career development opportunities such as special projects and training as for employees working from the usual work location, with appropriate consideration given to location, duration and timing Establishing communication processes to ensure that staff working in a telecentre or from home are aware of organisational developments during the time when they are away from the usual workplace Providing remotely located staff with opportunities to participate in meetings and networking activities The proximity of a staff member’s residence to the telecentre. Telecentre facilities are available in Gosford and Wollongong and would be suitable only to staff living near these areas Whether the need to interact with other people in face-to-face situations is critical or minimal or can be organised into appropriate times Whether reference material can be sourced electronically rather than relying on a large amount of paper-based material The format for a weekly summary of activities undertaken at the telecentre or while working from home that is placed on the staff member’s personnel file

Who pays the costs The division or directorate in which the staff member is employed will meet all costs associated with implementing an arrangement for a staff member to work from a telecentre or from home. This includes the cost of providing equipment, modifying a home-based office and conducting inspections.

Requests from staff who want to work from a telecentre or from home must be made in writing and submitted to the appropriate divisional/directorate head ie the relevant Deputy-Director General or the Directors of Audit, Communications or Executive and Corporate Support. The decision whether or not to support a request to work from home or a telecentre is made by the relevant divisional/directorate head. The divisional/directorate head will assess the request and consult with the employee’s manager. Where the divisional/directorate head does not support a request he/she must inform the staff member, in writing, of the reason(s) for not supporting the request. Where the request is supported, the request must be referred to the Director, Executive and Corporate Support for consideration and approval prior to being implemented. All the above issues set out above will be considered when assessing a request from a staff member to work from a telecentre or from home. Each situation involving a staff member working from a location other that the usual work location, will be documented in a Flexible Work Locations Agreement.

For equity and statistical purposes, all requests that are declined by divisional/directorate heads must be referred to the Director, Executive and Corporate Support.

A Flexible Work Location Agreement will be entered into where a request is approved and may contain information relating to the following areas:

Provisions covering the designated work area in the home, in the case of employees working from home The staff member’s consent to provide access to the home-based work site for the employer, the employer’s representative and/or an appropriately qualified workplace assessor in order to set up the site and investigate any accidents The staff member’s agreement to comply with WorkCover requirements and to notify the Department of work related accidents, injuries, illnesses or diseases arising from homebased or telecentre work Statutory obligations on the employer and the staff member in regard to occupational health and safety, worker’s compensation and return to work The staff member’s right to have a union representative or third party present during visits by the employer, employer’s representative and/or an appropriately qualified workplace assessor to the home-based work site Agreement by the employer to provide the employee with a First Aid Kit (Type C) as defined in the Occupational Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulation Public liability insurance to cover possible injury to third parties who visit the home-based work site Agreement to comply with departmental policies regarding the security of assets and information Provisions entitling the employer to terminate the working arrangements if any aspect of the Department’s activities are adversely affected Agreement by the parties as to the duration of the agreement and to review the working arrangements on a regular basis Agreement by the parties (ie the staff member and the manager) to maintain regular contact (eg weekly) so that workflow can be monitored and any issues discussed

The conditions of employment for staff who use telecentres or who work from home are the same as for those worked at the employer’s usual work site, except where there is an agreed variation. Variations to the terms and conditions of employment must not breach any award, industrial agreement or statutory instrument. The Director, Executive and Corporate Support must agree to the provisions of a Flexible Work Location Agreement prior to these agreements being implemented and will consider and authorise variations to the terms and conditions of employment where appropriate.

Flexible Work Location Agreements may be approved for a period of up to 6 months. Full-time staff may request to work under such agreements for a maximum of three days per week. Parttime staff must attend the usual work environment for at least half of their weekly hours of duty. When an agreement is due to be renewed, a report it is to be submitted to the Director, Executive and Corporate Support with evidence of the effectiveness of the arrangement (eg. work completed to date, progress against project milestones). Where such a report is not provided, the agreement will not be renewed.

The benefits of using work from home and telecentre arrangements are wide ranging and include improved service delivery, improved quality of life for staff, reduced travel costs and time spent commuting, maximised use of available technologies, improved productivity, increased workplace flexibility and benefits to the environment. There are also benefits to be derived from the economic and social impact on communities as result of the development of telecentres in major regional and rural centres. These benefits are achieved by a greater number of workers using goods and services in their local communities rather than in the metropolitan area.

Staff who work from a telecentre or home are responsible for complying with the provisions of their agreement. If staff do not comply with the provisions, the Department may terminate the agreement. Staff are also expected to provide their manager with details of the work they are undertaking on a regular basis (usually weekly). This information must provide sufficient details so that an audit can determine the effectiveness of the arrangement. Managers are responsible for managing staff that work from a remote location. This includes ensuring that effective communication is maintained, involving the staff member in team activities as much as possible and following up on a weekly or daily basis to monitor workflow.

Division/directorate heads are responsible for assessing and determining the appropriateness of supporting a request to work from a telecentre or from home. The Director, Executive and Corporate Support is responsible for reviewing and approving the terms and conditions contained in agreements and for monitoring requests that are declined. Corporate Personnel Services is responsible for updating this policy and maintaining statistics on work from home and telecentre arrangements.

Staff have the right to lodge a grievance if they feel that their request to work from a telecentre of from home has been inappropriately resolved. This also applies to grievances that may arise within the telecentre. Grievances should be lodged with the divisional/directorate head in accordance with the Department’s Grievance Resolution Procedures (99/42).

Flexible Work Practices: Policy and Guidelines, Public Employment Office, 1994 and 1995 Crown Employee (Public Service Conditions of Employment) Award, 1997 Public Sector Employment and Management Act, 2002 Public Sector Management (General) Regulation, 1996 Occupational Health and Safety Act (NSW), 2000 Workers’ Compensation Act (NSW), 1987 Anti-Discrimination Act, 1977 Workplace Injury Management and Worker’s Compensation Act (NSW), 1998 NSW Department of Health Grievance Resolution Procedures 99/42 NSW Department of Health Occupational Health and Safety Policy NSW Department of Health Records Management Policy 2002/11 NSW Department of Health Records Management of Email Policy 2002/9

1. Scope This Flexible Work Location Agreement is a voluntary and cooperative arrangement between the employer and the employee. The terms and conditions of employment between the employer and employee that apply at the employee’s place of work also apply at the telecentre or home-based office unless varied by agreement between the employer and the employee within the scope permitted by any industrial agreement.

2. Definitions In this Agreement: Delegated Employer Nominee means the Director, Executive and Corporate Support or other Department of Health employee authorised to sign a Working From Home Agreement on behalf of the employer. Employee means officers employed under the provisions of the Public Sector Employment and Management Act (NSW), 2002. Employer means the New South Department of Health. Employer’s Office means the normal place of work where the employee works or would work when not working from a home-based office. Equipment means computer, telephone, fax or other electronic and related machinery required for the conduct of work. Flexible work location means either a home-base office or a telecentre. Home-based Office means an area designated in an employee’s private dwelling which has been agreed by the employer and employee for use by the employee to perform home-based work. Telecentre means a facility that provides an office setting from which an employee may work as an alternative to working from the usual workplace. The telecentre is facilitated by the use of networked information technology and communication systems allowing an employee to work in a remote location.

3. Implementation procedures (a) The employer and employee have designated the flexible work location officer and work site specified in the schedule to this agreement

(b) The employee agrees to cooperate with the employer in all measures to ensure that the flexible work location site conforms with acceptable occupational health and safety standards (c) The employer is responsible for the health, safety and welfare of the worker at the work, including while at the site. The employer will ensure that the site and the equipment to be used is in accordance with the provisions of occupational health and safety legislation and other safety requirements and is responsible for all costs associated with compliance. (d) All occupational health and safety policies which apply at the employee’s usual place of work shall, as far as practicable and unless varied by terms set out in this agreement, apply in carrying out work at the flexible work location site. (e) In situations involving a home-based work site, the employee consents to the employer having access to inspect the site subject to the provision of 48 hours notice or by agreement. The inspection can only take place within designated working hours. The employer will inspect the flexible work location site with an appropriately qualified person to ensure that it complies with the employer’s statutory obligations to provide for the health, safety and welfare of the employee. (f) The employee consents to a appropriately qualified workplace assessor or a representative of the occupational health and safety committee established at the employee’s normal place of work entering the flexible work location site in the event of a dispute arising on an issues of health, safety or welfare of the employee for the sole purpose of resolving the dispute. (g) It is agreed that the employee has a right to have a union representative or third party present during visits from the employer or appropriately qualified workplace assessor. (h) The employee agrees to notify the employer of any work related accident, injury, illness or disease arising out of work undertaken at the flexible work location. (i) The employer shall notify the WorkCover Authority of any work related accident, injury, illness, disease or incident required under occupational health and safety legislation occurring at the flexible work location site. (j) The employer agrees to furnish the employee with a first aid kit type C as defined in the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation (NSW) 2001. The employee agrees to ensure that the kit is kept at the flexible work location site and to notify the employer if any item requires replacement. (k) The employee agrees that the employer is not responsible for any liability on the part of a third party, unless the third party or parties, are present in connection with work related duties.

4. Equipment supplied for home-based work (a) The employer and the employee have compiled a list of equipment used by the employee in the course of carrying out work at the home-based work site. This list specifies who owns the equipment and/or software. This list is attached to this agreement.

(b) The equipment owned or leased by the employer and for use by the employee at the home-based work site will be used solely for the purposes of the employer’s work. All equipment owned or leased by the employer will remain the property of the employer or contracted lessor and the employee agrees that the employer may have access to the home-based work site during hours of work after providing reasonable notice (at least 24 hours) for the removal of the equipment. In removing the equipment the employer will take all reasonable care to minimise damage to the home-based work site and/or property. If damage to the site is caused by the employer’s actions, the employer is responsible for repairs, replacement or compensation. (c) The employer or contracted lessor will maintain the equipment and/or software owned or leased by the employer. (d) The employee agrees to notify the employer if any problems or difficulties arise with the operation of the equipment and allow access to replace, service or repair the equipment. (e) The employer shall effect and maintain a policy of insurance in respect of the equipment owned by the employer and used to carry out the work of the employer. (f) If it is agreed that the employee’s equipment is to be used at the home-based work site for the employer’s work, the percentage costs of maintenance, repair and insurance of the equipment to be borne by the employer will be agreed between the employer and employee. The manner in which consumables will be supplied (eg toner, paper etc) will also be agreed. These agreements will be documented and attached to this agreement.

5. Security of assets and information Security of assets and information shall be as agreed for employer’s office-based employment. It is agreed that the employee will take all reasonable precautions necessary to secure the employer’s materials.

6. Dependant care It is agreed that undertaking work at a flexible work location is not a substitute for dependant care. If this provision is breached, the Department may terminate the agreement.

7. Conditions of employment and variations to those conditions (a) The terms and conditions of the employment between the employee and the employer that apply at the employer’s office and as specified in this agreement, will also apply at the flexible work location site. In particular, the following will not be altered by this agreement: (i) (ii) any applicable legislation awards or agreements classification, grading and related remuneration

(b) The employee engaged in work at the flexible work location site and employer may agree to vary any of the terms and conditions of this agreement with the exception of the above in 7(a)(i) and (ii). Any variation must be agreed to by both the employee and the employer and must be in writing and attached to the agreement.

8. Access to the employee (a) The parties agree that the management has the right of access to an employee to discuss work related issues with the employee. Management discussions with the employee should, preferably, take place with the employee during normal work hours at the employer’s office. The parties recognise the rights of access of the employee’s union representative in accordance with the NSW Industrial Relations Act NSW), 1996.

(b)

(c)

9. Family/personal responsibilities Employees who have personal responsibilities such as child-care or elder-care will be expected to manage these responsibilities in a way that allows them to successfully meet their employment obligations.

10. Work environment and occupational health and safety (a) The work environment of an employee’s flexible work location will comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act (NSW), 2000. Each employee’s home-based office will be assessed by a qualified workplace assessor prior to commencement of a flexible work location arrangement to ensure that it complies with the requirements specified in the Occupational Health and Safety Act (NSW), 2000. Details of the assessment will be provided to the employee and placed on the employee’s file. The designated workspace at the home-based office will be maintained by the employee to a safe standard which complies with the Occupational Health and Safety Act (NSW), 2000. Employees engaged in working from a flexible work location in accordance with the terms of this agreement will be entitled to workers’ compensation and other provisions specified in the Workers’ Compensation Act (NSW), 1987, the Workplace Injury Management and Workers’ Compensation Act (NSW), 1998 and any other relevant legislation. Workers’ compensation liability will be limited to injuries sustained while carrying out work related duties only. For the purposes of defining work related accidents or illnesses and the application of workers’ compensation laws, the employee’s work hours will conform to a schedule agreed upon between the employee and the employer. Any changes or extension to the schedule referred to above with respect to workers’ compensation coverage must be reviewed and approved by the employer in advance.

(b)

(c)

(d)

(e)

11. Communications (a) The employer will ensure regular opportunities for communication between supervisor and employee and take all reasonable steps to provide the employee all information concerning staff meetings, training and other career development opportunities available to other employees. The employee agrees to be contactable during the periods when work is carried out and available for communication with the employer.

(b)

12. Performance (a) The employer agrees to ensure that the work carried out by the employee at the flexible work location site is taken into account when the work performance of the employee is under review. The employer and employee agree to establish and implement an agreed procedure, appropriate to the work, by which the performance of the employee at the flexible work location site can be monitored. This must include the staff member providing a weekly report on activities completed. This report is to be reviewed and signed by the manager and sent to Corporate Personnel Services to be placed on the staff member’s file. The weekly report must be sufficiently detailed to enable an auditor to assess the time spent on activities and compare the time with the output achieved. Staff who do not provide a weekly report in sufficient detail may have their agreement terminated by the Department.

(b)

(c)

(d)

13. Training The employer agrees to ensure that training and career development opportunities are provided on the same basis as for other staff.

14. Termination of the home-based work agreement (a) The agreement may be terminated by either party prior to expiry, provided that the party wishing to terminate gives reasonable notice. It is agreed that ‘reasonable’ notice shall be six weeks if the previously agreed period for working at a flexible work location site was six months or three weeks if the previously agreed period for working at a flexible work location site was less than six months.

(b)

The Agreement is between:

(full name of employee) of (title of position) and: (Unit, NSW Department of Health)

Rosemary Milkins, Director, Executive and Corporate Support

to work from a flexible work location (ie to telework or work from home) subject to the conditions set out below:

(1)

Please indicate the location of where work will be undertaken: Gosford Telecentre Wollongong Telecentre Work from home

(2)

Address of flexible work location

(3)

Employee's contact numbers whilst working from a flexible work location: Telephone Mobile Facsimile

(4)

Contact numbers of departmental representative (ie manager): Telephone Mobile Facsimile

(5)

Hours worked will be standard/flexible (cross out whichever is not applicable) and the following conditions will apply to the working of hours agreed upon:

(6)

This arrangement is mutually convenient

(7)

Agreement will commence on and will expire on Agreements are not to exceed 6 months in duration

(8)

Should either party wish to vary or terminate the Flexible Work Location Agreement during the term of the Agreement, the following procedures must be followed by the party initiating the variation or termination (please specify notification and any other requirements which need to be completed. prior to the variation or termination taking place):

(9)

Details of work to be performed: (a) in the flexible work location

(b) in the usual work location

(10)

The agreed performance monitoring process will be (there is requirement for a weekly report to be submitted to the manager):

(11)

The agreed performance or productivity measures will be:

(12)

The arrangements for communication between the staff member, clients, managers and colleagues will be as follows (list requirements and arrangements):

(13)

The arrangements for forwarding work to the flexible work location site, or otherwise collecting work will be:

(14)

The security arrangement for departmental documents and electronic files will be in line with the Department’s policies on Electronic Messaging (Circular No 99/99), Records Management (Circular No 2002/11) and Records Management of Email (Circular No 2002/9). A copy of these policies has been provided to the employee. Asset/equipment list attached (for home based work) Yes No Date OH&S inspection completed (for home based work):

(15)

(16)

(17)

Any other matters that are relevant to the Flexible Work Locations Agreement and which either party wishes to include in the Agreement (please provide full details, are appropriate):

Employee

Manager

Rosemary Milkins Director Executive and Corporate Support

Date

Date

Date

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