Issued: 13 May 2020

Last modified: 13 May 2020

You have an obligation under the Code of Professional Conduct (Code) to ensure that the services provided on your behalf are provided competently. 

In the current circumstances impacted by Coronavirus (COVID-19), there may be changes in your practice’s working arrangements, with staff working from home. We understand that the supervisory practices you had in place might have been shifted to more online arrangements.  It becomes even more important in these circumstances to have processes in place to ensure that you maintain adequate supervision and control over staff to direct, oversee and check the services provided on your behalf. 

General considerations

The following considerations may be relevant when enabling staff to work from home and managing them remotely:

  • Review any work from home policy you may have in your practice in light of the current circumstances.

  • Review and ensure any online systems you use, including any online collaboration tools, are secure when working remotely.

  • Set clear expectations of employee’s performance and responsibilities, including protecting client information. 

  • Ensure staff have access to and follow documented procedures, processes and checklists for carrying out their tasks.

  • Have regular check-ins with employees to maintain rapport and help them stay motivated. 

  • Encourage employees to have a dedicated workspace at home where possible to help them focus and be productive.

  • Be flexible and considerate of any changed circumstances in your employee’s personal situation. Encourage your employees to make use of support services available to take care of their mental health and wellbeing, such as Beyond Blue

Supervising services provided on your behalf 

Our guidance on Supervisory arrangements and supervision and control is still relevant in the current circumstances when you may have staff working remotely providing tax agent, BAS or tax (financial) advice services on your behalf. 

Below are some factors from our guidance material that may assist you in effectively supervising staff remotely:

  • Ensure staff have adequate level of expertise, training and understanding of tax laws to perform the tasks they are responsible for.

  • Determine the level and depth of oversight required over the tax agent, BAS or tax (financial) advice services to be provided, according to the skills and experience of your staff and complexity of the services to be provided.

  • Provide substantial supervision, rather than mere checking of documents – conduct periodic and spot checks of relevant materials prepared by staff.

  • Have documented escalation procedures in place for staff to follow in referring matters to their supervisors that are beyond their knowledge or experience or any specifically raised concerns of clients.

  • Have quality assurance mechanisms in place to conduct regular reviews/audits of work performed by staff to ensure accuracy and completeness of services provided on your behalf.

  • Undertake spot checks of source documents and questions asked by staff to justify information provided by clients, such as income and deductions declared.