The PSA has recently been advised by a number of members that they are required to return to the workplace, following a period of working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new Public Health Order which took effect on 15 May 2020 made changes to explicitly require an employer to allow an employee to work at the person’s place of residence where it is reasonably practicable to do so. This shows the Government is serious about workers continuing to work from home.
The NSWPF has advised there is no organisation-wide direction for employees to return to the workplace and that all circumstances are to be considered on a case-by-case basis. It is clear the requirements of individual roles need to be considered when assessing whether it is ‘reasonably practicable’ for an employee to work from home. As such, decisions regarding individual workplaces need to be made by local commanders/managers. Such decisions also need to take into account the operational requirements of that location to ensure that there is no impact on the provision of policing services.
Members who are from vulnerable groups or who are caring for members of vulnerable groups should continue to discuss their individual situation with their Command to ensure the appropriate mitigations strategies are put in place. This may include an extension of an interim work-from-home arrangement.
Police published an application form late in April in anticipation of children returning to school. The form allows staff to apply – or re-apply – to work from home for reasons other than looking after children at home. The form can be accessed on the NSW Police Intranet at:
The kind of issues which could be raised in an application include:
- Difficulty getting to work on the reduced public transport services
- Need to pick up and drop off kids from school
- Grandparents not able to provide childcare assistance due to COVID isolation
- Any relevant medical issues
- Whether work from home has been working or would be practical
Where an application is declined by local management, staff can appeal to the Regional HR Manager and ultimately to Corporate HR.
Anyone currently working from home who is concerned they will be required to return to the workplace against their wishes should complete and submit the form to their commander.
The PSA will assist members with appeals against decisions denying applications to work from home.
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PSA Member Support Centre 1300 772 679.