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Category Human Resources
Type Policy
Approved by Vice Chancellor
Date Policy Took Effect 1 February 2023
Last approved revision 
Sponsor Human Resources Director
Responsible officer Employment Relations Manager


To state the University's position in relation to staff working from home and the arrangements that need to be considered should working from home be agreed.

Organisational scope

All University employees.


All employees of the University of Otago
Working from Home (WFH)
Means an agreed arrangement to work fully or partially from home or at another location outside of the University campus.
The Health and Safety at Work Act defines “workplace” as a place where work is being carried out, or is customarily carried out, for a business or undertaking; and includes any place where a worker goes, or is likely to be, while at work.


1. General principles

  1. Flexible working arrangements, including work from home, are important in helping to attract and retain a productive workforce and support employee wellbeing.
  2. The University of Otago is committed to the maintenance of its unique campus-based learning and working environment and therefore it is vitally important that staff are available for students on campus and are able to interact effectively with colleagues.
  3. The University recognises that people have become more adept at working from home and have overcome many of the associated technological and other challenges. This policy provides new opportunities for staff to manage their work commitments more flexibly and for the University to make better use of its teaching and office space.
  4. Staff working in different areas of the University all make unique and important contributions to the success of the University. The variation in roles means that options to work from home are also variable, with some work being able to be completed fully from home and other roles needing to be fully on campus. Similarly, variability in staff members' personal circumstances mean that some staff cannot access the provisions of this Policy. As much as is practicable, staff will have equitable access to this Policy.
  5. Changes to working arrangements, such as entering into informal or formal working from home agreements, are a good time for staff to consider how they travel to and from campus on days they do not work from home.

2. General approach

  1. The University encourages staff and Managers/Heads of Department ( HoD s) to discuss individually and collectively, whether staff working from home is desirable and feasible for their area. Managers and HoD s are encouraged to be as flexible as possible without unduly affecting the performance of their area.
  2. All new buildings projects and major refurbishments will consider, during the design of the works, working from home options in order to reduce space requirements.
  3. Where staff are working from home for more than 2 days per week for a period of greater than four months, the HoD /Manager is expected to consider the efficient and effective use of office space.
  4. Where working from home arrangements are made, staff must be able to work effectively and have an appropriate work environment. This includes the ability to ensure information is kept secure and that all health and safety requirements are met. Recordkeeping requirements must also be maintained, and information created in a work context and held off-site returned to the University for storage and/or secure destruction, if employment ceases
  5. Consideration must be given to the Working from Home Guidelines.
  6. Staff are also able to make a formal request for flexible work arrangements (under the Employment Relations Act) in accordance with the University's Flexible Working Request Procedure.
  7. The University reserves the right, following review and consultation, to cease any WFH agreement.

3. Applications to work from home

  1. Applications to work from home will be managed in accordance with the Flexible Working Request Procedure. There are three pathways – informal, semi-formal and formal; the requirements for each are described below.
  2. Informal process
    1. The informal process is an arrangement with a Manager/ HoD and is used when staff are infrequently working from home (a day a week or less) or working from home for short periods (less than four months), for any amount of time.
    2. No formal documentation is required; however, it is recommended that a record of the arrangements (such as an email) is retained.
    3. The University is not expected to fund any home office equipment or set up.
  3. Semi-formal process
    1. The semi-formal process is used if the arrangement is for an extended period (more than 4 months) and/or is for substantial hours of work (more than a day a week).
    2. Requests will be made using the Request for Flexible Working Request Form and must be accompanied by a Working from Home Health and Safety Checklist.
    3. Managers/ HoD s will take the Working from Home Guidelines into consideration when reviewing these requests.
    4. All semi-formal arrangements should contain a review period. The review timeframe will depend on the circumstances but in most cases six months would be reasonable.
  4. Formal process
    1. A formal process is required under the Employment Relations Act.
    2. Formal requests will be considered as outlined in section 4 of the Flexible Working Request Procedure.

4. Working from Home due to Unforeseen Circumstances

  1. Where staff are required to work from home due to unforeseen circumstances and/or circumstances outside of the University's control, the University will consider the support and measures that are appropriate at the time, on a case-by-case basis.

5. Health and safety

  1. When working from home, the home becomes the workplace and the usual health and safety policies and requirements apply to the University and staff.
  2. A self-assessment of the home office must be completed by the staff member when ongoing working from home is being contemplated. Occupational Health are available for support and advice as required:
  3. All incidents and accidents, that happen in the course of carrying out work at home, need to be reported in the usual manner:
  4. ACC will continue to apply to staff working from home, however only injuries sustained while carrying out work will be accepted as workplace injuries.

Related policies, procedures and forms

Contact for further information

If you have any queries regarding the content of this policy or need further clarification, contact your local Divisional Human Resources Manager / Adviser.

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