Flexible Working Arrangements

In late 2018, Fair Work Australia introduced new rules regarding requests for flexible work arrangements. To make sure you as an employer or employee are familiar with the new rulings, we have compiled some information on how flexible work arrangements may affect you.

What are flexible working arrangements? Flexible working arrangements are changes to hours of work (such as start and finish time), patterns of work (such as split shifts or job sharing) and locations of work (such as working in the office or from home).

Who can request flexible working arrangements? Flexible working arrangements can be requested by employees (other than a casual employee) who have been working for the same employer for at least 12 months, when they are:

–          The parent or carer of a school aged child (or younger)

–          Are a carer (under the Carer Recognition Act 2010)

–          Have a disability

–          Are 55 years or older

–          Are experiencing family or domestic violence, or

–          Provide care or support to a member of their household or immediate family who requires care and support because of family or domestic violence

Can casual employees make a request for flexible working arrangements? Yes, if they have been working for the same employer regularly and systematically for at least 12 months, and if there is a reasonable expectation of continuing work with the employer on a regular and systematic basis.

How can an employee request flexible working hours? In writing, by explaining what changes they are asking for and why they are requesting the change

What should an employer do with a request? Employers covered by an award must first discuss the request with their employee to try to reach an agreement about changes to the employee’s working conditions. This must take into consideration:

–          The needs of the employee

–          Consequences for the employee if changes in working arrangements aren’t made

–          Any reasonable business grounds for refusing the employee’s request

A written response must be received within 21 days, and must outline whether the request is approved or refused. A request can only be refused on reasonable business grounds, and if it is refused, the written response must include the reasons for refusal. Different awards contain specific information on what needs to be included in the response.

What are reasonable business grounds? These can include:

–          The requested arrangements are too costly

–          Other employees’ working arrangements can’t accommodate the request

–          Its impractical to change other employees’ working arrangements or hire new employees to accommodate the request

–          The request would result in a significant loss of productivity or have a significant negative impact on customer service

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