A shocking number of Australian bosses have said they are prepared to cut the wages and benefits of employees who work from home.
About 37 percent of senior executives said they plan to differentiate pay between remote and in-office workers in the next three to five years.
The shocking revelation was made in a global survey by law firm Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF), the results of which were published on Monday.
About 38 percent of bosses said working from home would become a privilege that had to be earned through trust and seniority.
Another 13 percent went a step further and said that teleworkers would not only see their wages cut, but also their benefits.
Australians are still refusing to return to the office, but some employers have had enough and may be cutting the wages of those who no longer want to return to the office. Pictured: an archive image of a woman working on her laptop
Australian employers are taking a “carrot and stick” approach and one of the “soft” methods they use to lure employees back is the promise of “team lunches” and “team drinks”. Pictured: a file photo of people having food and drinks
More than two-thirds of Australians worked from home during the Covid pandemic in mid-2021.
Although the share of work done from home has declined since the pandemic officially ended on May 5, a whopping 88 percent of companies say their workforce is still at least partially hybrid.
The HSF report says bosses are responding by “restricting” the freedoms given to staff during the pandemic.
READ MORE: Australia’s capital cities are suffering from WFH, says Perth mayor
Outraged Perth Mayor Basil Zempilas has slammed Australians working from home, claiming they are “damaging their capital”.
He accused workers of failing to support CBD companies by staying home.
Perth Mayor Basil Zempilas (above) told Australians working from home they were “damaging their capital cities”.
The survey surveyed around 500 bosses, 70 percent of whom said more work will be done in the office or on site in the next two years.
Working from home will continue to be an option, but nearly half of employers surveyed (47 percent) expect remote work to become “a reward for loyalty,” trust, and even seniority.
Overall, 38 percent said they expect working from home to be viewed as a “privilege.”
Natalie Gaspar, a partner at Herbert Smith Freehills, said some Australian companies are currently using a combination of “carrot and stick” approaches to get their employees back to offices.
Many use “gentle encouragement,” such as offers of “team lunch” and “team drinks.”
Many companies tell their employees that they expect them to be in the office more often, including on certain days. However, they are encountering “resistance” to a full return to work.
“There are only a handful of organizations that are mandating a full return to work and that is facing significant resistance,” Ms. Gaspar said.
The change is already happening as employers specify the days they are required to be in the office, according to the University of Sydney’s Transport Opinion Survey from September.
“About 42 percent of employers have mandated that employees return to the office a certain number of days per week.”
According to the University of Sydney, 21 percent of all hours worked in Australia in September 2023 were work from home (WFH) hours.
This is down from 27 percent in March, largely due to professionals and salespeople returning to their offices. Managers, technicians, community workers, and office/administrative staff continue to participate in WFH at approximately the same rates.
Natalie Gaspar (pictured) from Herbert Smith Freehills said companies wanting to insist on a full return to the office are facing “significant resistance”.
On average, Victorians worked from home the most (25 per cent), just ahead of NSW (23 per cent).
Across all other states and territories, 21 per cent of all work – or less – was done in the office.
The University of Sydney study found the most common days to work from home were Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
“Wednesday, Monday and Tuesday have the highest levels of WFH: 63 percent, 61 percent and 60 percent of those who work from home on these three days on weekdays are WFH.
“In contrast, only 52 percent and 55 percent of WFH employees work from home on weekday Fridays or Thursdays, respectively.”
The Herbert Smith Freehills report suggested that an end to all home working arrangements was unlikely, including because there could be “legal risks”.
“There are also legal risks, particularly given that many employees are choosing to work remotely due to caring responsibilities or disability.”
“Employers must carefully consider whether such policies pose a risk of discrimination against those with protected characteristics and ensure they are treated fairly in the eyes of employees and the law.”