Telecommuting

1 Introduction

The Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) is a small body with a diverse range of functions including conducting external reviews of access information  applications for government agencies and conducting a mediation service for complaints about government agencies. These two functions in particular mean that the OIC holds information that is sensitive personal information about individuals and also highly confidential and sensitive information to government.

OIC offers a range of flexible work practices to help employees achieve a balance between work, family and lifestyle commitments.  Telecommuting and working from home is one work-life balance initiative offered by the Office.

Telecommuting and working from home arrangements are not part of an employee’s entitlement under any legislation, award or certified agreement but can be negotiated between an employee and their manager.  These arrangements are available to all OIC staff regardless of their classification but are subject to operational requirements.  In some cases, job requirements may mean requests to telecommute or work from home cannot be reasonably accommodated.

Requests will be determined on a case-by-case basis and consideration will also be extended to include compassionate and work life balance factors.   Where the request cannot be granted, the applicant will be provided with reasons for the decision.

All regular telecommuting agreements are subject to the approval of the Information Commissioner.

2 Purpose

This policy sets out the governance around telecommuting, which includes both regular and ad hoc telecommuting requests.

3 Effective Date

Approved by the Information Commissioner on 20 December 2016

4 References

  • Use of internet and email services
  • Work Health and Safety Act 2011
  • Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003
  • Relevant Public Sector Directives
  • Hours of Work Arrangements
  • Public Service Act 2008
  • Code of Conduct

5 Application

This policy applies to all employees of the Office.

6 Determining Suitability of Role

Regular Telecommuting

To determine which roles are suitable for regular telecommuting, Commissioners and managers must be satisfied that the work can be conducted outside of the office environment and the employee can achieve the expected performance indicators.  Also of relevance will be the balance of hours between working from home and working from the Office.

Generally, the roles which are the most suitable for telecommuting/working from home are those where the work activities may be largely undertaken independently. Roles that supervise and support other staff may be less suitable and may need to be limited in order to meet operational objectives. Regular telecommuting may be unsuitable for roles that require frequent contact with colleagues, customers and clients of the Office.  This includes roles that supervise others and roles where participation in meetings is critical.  Ie Manager attendance at monthly staff meeting.

Employees applying to telecommute are required to satisfy the Commissioner that there is an appropriate communication and security strategy to protect the confidentiality of all matters attended to at the designated remote working location.

Ad Hoc Arrangements

Ad hoc telecommuting is an irregular, occasional or short term telecommuting arrangement.  These arrangements require the approval of the officer’s manager and Commissioner.  Arrangements for less than one week or for a one off occasion are considered to be ad hoc.

Ad hoc requests may arise from circumstances that make it difficult for an employee to attend work for a limited period of time. Some examples are listed below:

  • significant weather events
  • public transport outage / motor vehicle breakdown
  • temporary physical incapacity to travel to work.

Whilst some roles are not suitable for regular telecommuting, due to the nature of the work, requests to work from home on an ad hoc basis may be more easily accommodated.

7 Approval

Regular Telecommuting

The Information Commissioner must approve regular telecommuting agreements before they commence. Commissioners will review and monitor the success of telecommuting arrangements on a continuous basis.  Regular telecommuting agreements must be formally reviewed every six months to determine their effectiveness and suitability.
Approval for regular telecommuting is role specific and must be renegotiated when an employee changes roles.

Where an arrangement does not support the achievement of organisational objectives, it may be cancelled at any time during the term of the arrangement.

Ad hoc Telecommuting

Ad hoc arrangements must be approved by the manager and relevant Commissioner of the work unit.  The manager and Commissioner must be reasonably satisfied that the employee has appropriate facilities and security in place before approval can be granted.

8  Work health and safety (WHS) requirements for telecommuting

Under WHS legislation, OIC has a duty of care to ensure that the work environment of all employees is safe and they are covered by relevant insurance in the event of injury or illness.

9 Procedure

All regular applications for telecommuting both regular and ad hoc arrangements must include:

a. Telecommuting Agreement
b. Work health and safety self-assessment
c. Communication and security strategy
d. OIC assets and equipment register (where applicable)