Employer refuses an employee’s request to work from home full-time
Gregory v Maxxia Pty Ltd (2023)
An employee requested to work from home on a full-time basis because he:
- had a school-aged child who, dependent on the outcome of a custody dispute, he hoped to care for every second week; and
- suffered from inflammatory bowel disease, which necessitated urgent and frequent trips to the toilet.
The employer considered the request, along with the following factors:
- The employer was required to ensure that 99% of calls to the business were answered within 3 minutes, and emails within 2 business days. The employer suffered significant financial penalties under client contracts if contractual obligations were not met. The employee’s daily productivity was approximately 50% below the target of 85%. He was stepping back into a specialist role, which required different skills, and fortnightly support sessions were scheduled to assist him to regain the skillset he required for his role and increase his productivity. However, this was not achieving an increase in productivity, and so it was considered advantageous to observe and support the employee in the office.
- The employee had long service and was valuable, and he was needed to contribute to team culture, training and discussions for the benefit of employees with less service. This was more effectively achieved if the employee was in the office.
- The employer wanted to remain fair and consistent across the team with the hybrid working expectations, and only allow exceptions where genuinely required.
- The employee was “struggling mentally” and the employer considered proper support required that he not work from home exclusively.
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