Future of working from home uncertain as employers push for potential pay cuts in new study

Some bosses intend to pay employees who work from home “differently” to those who attend the office, according to a new industry survey.

Herbert Smith Freehills’ “Future of Work” global survey, released this week, suggests that 45 per cent of employers have plans to differentiate pay between remote and in-office staff over the course of the next three to five years.

WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Bosses push for right to slash wages of staff working from home.

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“Office attendance is becoming increasingly important to many employers,” Herbert Smith Freehills partner Nick Wright said.

“With some mandating a full-time return to the office and others making bonuses conditional upon levels of attendance.”

Some businesses in Australia are offering incentives to get workers back into the office, including team lunches, drinks and extracurricular activities.

“In Australia, we’re seeing a range of approaches for getting people back in the office. Some employers are still doing soft encouragement,” law partner Natalie Gaspar said.

“Some are using more of a direct approach – you must be in the office on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, for example.

“There’s only a handful of organisations mandating a full return to the workplace, and that’s being met with a significant amount of resistance.”

Thirty-eight per cent of Australian employers reportedly believe that remote working will become an earned privilege, while 47 per cent expect working remotely will become a privilege earned through trust.

Some 88 per cent currently report a workforce that is at least partly hybrid.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) recently called out former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett after he made suggestions that staff working from home should have their pay docked in July this year.

At the time, Kennett was quoted as saying: “There will be people making a decision (to work from home) because they don’t have to go through the trauma of driving to and from work, or (taking) the train or something – they save money and it saves them all that stress.”

The ACTU said in a statement that whether “workers are at their office desk or home desk” they should have same rights and entitlements.

The Future of Work survey also highlights potential legal risks, suggesting that many workers “choose to work remotely due to caregiving responsibilities or disability”.

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