The short answer is YES! The Australian Worksafe Code of Compliance states that organisations are required to provide facilities and amenities as they are important for the basic health, safety and welfare of the employees.
But what are workplace facilities and amenities exactly? It includes things like toilets, seating, dining rooms, change rooms, drinking water, personal storage and washing facilities as well as the work environment considerations such as workspace, temperature and air quality, lighting and flooring. Everyone knows that employees perform better in a positive space, so ensuring that your workplace is clean, tidy and comfortable for everyone is obviously going to impact on morale, productivity and the general wellbeing of your team.
Before employers can acertain which of these relate to them specifically, they need to work out the requirements of their employees in the context of your working environment. Each workplace is different and it can depend on the type of industry and activities or operations carried out in those workplaces.
However, apart from providing the basics and necessary stuff like tea and coffee, toilet paper, a place to heat up your food and a clean place to eat etc you aren’t not required to provide everything under the sun! For example, as an employer you would not be expected to cater to all dietary persuasions when supplying milk for your tea and coffee. It’s also important that once you have worked out what’s going to be provided, that these things are well maintained, no one wants to walk into a kitchen full of dirty dishes or use a filthy toilet every day.
Another question that seems to get raised quite a lot is, are employers required to provide a smoking area for employee’s? The answer is no, they’re not. Employers have no obligation to provide a specific area or equipment for smokers to use but a well thought out and detailed policy can be implemented to set out where you want your employees to smoke and how far away you would like them to stand from your building. Most employers do not want a gaggle of employees loitering around the front of their building, as this would probably not be a good look.
So our top tips for providing a happy, safe and super supportive workplace are the following:
- Adequate Male AND Female toilets (people generally don’t want to share with the opposite sex and one toilet between 40 staff is probably not enough)
- A nice quiet lunch room with a microwave, fridge for storing lunches, dining table
- A range of amenities including tea and coffee, a coffee machine if you are really nice, biscuits, snacks etc…
- Nice open plan office space with windows and properly set up equipment and good ergonomic chairs. (No one wants to work on top of each other so give each person the space they need to do a great job)
- Temperature – good heating or cooling is always a good idea but sometimes not possible when you have a Factory environment. If you are working in hot conditions during summer we recommend starting earlier and providing cold cordial or even icy poles
So, as an employer, if you find yourself questioning what you need to provide to your employees, have a read of the Workplace amenities and work environment compliance code and have a chat to your employees to discover what they need or want.
Also, if you have any queries or questions give HR gurus a call on 1300 959 560 where our qualified and experienced team are here to help!
This blog was written by resident Office Manager Guru Kate Winch.