Victorian public servants who are working from home will receive funds for home office expenses, under a new policy.
Secretary of the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet Chris Eccles issued a message to VPS employees on Wednesday stating that working-from-home policies in every department would be replaced with a new whole of Victorian government (WoVG) policy and new occupational health and safety (OH&S) advice.
“This is necessary because existing policies and OH&S procedures do not allow for current unprecedented circumstances with so many people working from home,” he wrote.
“The safety and wellbeing of staff is very important and regular advice and tips to support you will be provided in coming days and weeks.”
Under the new policy, staff who are required to work from home will receive a payment of $100 for home office expenses, with an extra $20 per week for home office consumables and utilities.
“The payment will be processed through payroll, but given the volume of payments required this may take some time so I ask you to please be patient,” Eccles urged.
“This prevents the need for making and processing expense claims. It is acknowledged that under conventional WFH policies people may have been able to claim back from departments more than $100 worth of expenses, but under current circumstances this arrangement is considered prudent.”
He said individuals may be able to claim additional expenses as a tax deduction, but recommended they seek independent advice about this first.
Staff who have already begun working from home must let their manager know if they have taken items from your desk so they can be recorded, while staff who have not yet transitioned must speak to their manager before removing items.
“For items a staff member would like relocated but cannot be taken home safely (such as chairs or monitors on public transport), departments can provide them with a taxi voucher, or the cost of a taxi can be claimed back from the department at a later time,” he added.
“For staff who have specific items as a result of prior OH&S workplace assessments or a disability, arrangements can be made with the department to have those items transported to your home. Please discuss these matters with People and Culture.”
The state government has also issued updates which further clarifies the use of different leave categories and provides advice regarding the impact of decisions to close government services, Eccles said.
“The VPS guidance note is for Victorian Public Service staff and the Victorian public sector guidance note is for non-VPS staff in government entities. Please remember to take care of yourselves and reach out to your manager if you have concerns or questions.”
Further guidance on COVID-19 for VPS employers and employees is available on the Victorian government website.
The secretary urged staff who have begun working from home to not return to their workplace “unless it is essential to do so”.
“This is in keeping with the premier’s advice for people to stay at home,” he said.
Earlier this month Premier Daniel Andrews said plans had been made to ensure “potentially many tens of thousands” of the state’s public servants would be able to work from home.