Elizabeth Pai and Hannah Kuo
To accommodate the work-from-home approach adopted by enterprises during the outbreak of the COVID pandemic, the Ministry of Labor released on June 23, 2021 the Reference Guidelines on Occupational Safety and Health for Work From Home (hereinafter, the “Guidelines”), which provides the safety and health issues that should be considered when businesses take a work-from-home measure.
Under the Guidelines, employers should work with employees working from home to identify and assess potential safety and health hazards and physical and mental health effects that may be encountered in the work environment and in the performance of their duties, and adopt necessary preventive equipment or measures to a reasonable and practicable extent based on the assessment results.
Work-from-from assessment should be focused on: (1) whether the work of the employees is suitable to be conducted at home; (2) whether the employees can work normally under appropriate environment and equipment support; (3)whether the work area at home is appropriate or has potential hazards; and (4) whether the type of work at home and operating conditions can cause any potential harm to mental and physical health due to factors such as long hours, abnormal workload, and alienation from the crowd, etc.
Based on the assessment of work from home, the employer shall, within a reasonable scope, take necessary measures and provide the necessary equipment to work-from-home employees to help maintain a suitable work-from-home environment and use appropriate desks, chairs, monitors, keyboards, mice, video conference equipment and software support, and ensure the stable operation of communications facilities. Employers should also provide physical and mental health management and education and training for employees working from home, and ensure good communication between such employees and their colleagues. For employees working from home that have children, the elderly, or sick family members, the employer should maintain flexible work hours and work schedules and allow such employees to know clearly what the employer expects from their work.
Concerning the matters under the above Guidelines, the Ministry of Labor also provides the Checklist for the Safety and Health Precautions for Working from Home for use by enterprises.