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Aussie boss’s ‘unreasonable’ response to work-from-home request

The boss told the worker they had to either come into the office or take sick leave.

An Aussie boss has divided opinion after they denied an employee’s request to work from home due to hay fever.

In a text message exchange shared to popular Instagram account The Aussie Corporate, the boss told the worker they’d either have to come into the office or take sick leave.

The worker started their message by saying they were planning to work from home because they were feeling unwell.

Work from home request over text message and office workers.
An Aussie boss has denied a request from a worker with hay fever to work from home. (Source: The Aussie Corporate/AAP)

“Morning, will be working from home today. Hay fever got me bad last night so I'm still a snotty/coughing mess,” the employee wrote.

“Got plenty ... to keep me going in terms of workload today.”

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The employee’s boss told the worker they were “sorry” the worker was suffering from hay fever, but that this wouldn’t be a good enough reason for them to work from home.

“I just want to let you know that I've been informed by [company name redacted] previously that team members are not allowed to work from home for reasons such as this,” they wrote.

“It's been previously explained to me, that if a team [member] feels they are well enough to work from home, then they are well enough to work from the office.

“You’ll either need to come into the office for the day and work, or alternatively take today off as sick leave.”

The Aussie Corporate screenshot
The worker shared this text message exchange. (Source: The Aussie Corporate)

The employer's move has been described by some as 'unreasonable'. Employers cannot force employees to take sick leave. However, they can direct them to take sick leave when they pose a workplace health-and-safety risk to others.

Can your boss force you back into the office?

Nearly two-thirds of Aussie bosses believe workers will be returning to the office full-time within the next three years.

McCabes Lawyers principal Tim McDonald previously told Yahoo Finance it was legal for employers to make their staff return to the office as long as it was a “lawful and reasonable” direction.

“A direction to return to the office will be lawful and reasonable except in extreme cases - for example, where it is contrary to a government directive or another law,” McDonald said.

“This means that your boss can legally make you return to the office, provided that your employment contract or other applicable workplace instrument does not say otherwise.”

If you can perform your job at home and have a legitimate reason to do so - such as an underlying health condition - you may be able to argue returning to the office is not reasonable.

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