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Flexible Work Arrangements

Employee work life balance is an increasing focus in many workplaces. There are numerous benefits for both the employer and employee such as retaining valued staff and an increase in productivity.

We hear the term “flexible working arrangement” used quite a lot in the workplace nowadays.  You may ask yourself what does it actually mean?  Who can request a flexible work arrangement?  If someone else in my workplace has a flexible work arrangement does it guarantee mine will be approved?

Firstly, let’s look at what flexible working arrangements are.  Flexible working arrangements generally include changes to hours of work for example start and finish times, pattern of work for instance job sharing and locations of work such as working from home.

So who can request flexible work arrangements?

 To request a flexible work arrangement you must be employed with your employer for at least a 12 month period and have one of the below circumstances:

  • Parental responsibilities of a child/children school age or younger.
  • Are a carer under the Carer Recognition Act 2010.
  • Have a disability.
  • Are 55 years and older.
  • Provide care and support for a family member who is experiencing family or domestic violence or are experiencing family or domestic violence themselves.

Full time/part time and casual employees can request flexible working arrangements however casual employees must be working for the employer on a consistent basis for at least 12 months and there is a reasonable expectation of continuing work with the employer on a consistent basis.

How do I request a flexible work arrangement?

You can request a flexible work arrangement through your manager.  Your request must be in writing outlining your reason for the request and what the changes are.  Just because you request a flexible work arrangement, it does not guarantee it will be approved.  Employers have 21 days to either approve or reject the request.  The response must be in writing, refusal can only be on reasonable business grounds and must be included in the written response.

Employers may also try and accommodate flexible working arrangement requests by negotiating the arrangement to meet both the employers and employee’s needs.

E.g. Marie who works 5 days per week submits a request to her employer to reduce her days to 3 days per week based on her parental responsibilities.  Marie’s child is school age and she is having difficulty with after school pick up.  The employer requires someone in the office 5 days per week however they are able to meet Marie halfway by allowing her to finish at 2.30pm each day to ensure she is able to pick up her child from school.

So what are reasonable business grounds?

Reasonable business grounds is ensuring the business is not at a loss such as a significant loss of productivity, customer service or profit.  Other employees working arrangements should not be changed to accommodate the request and new employees should not need to be hired.  Having a policy in place outlining the process would be beneficial for both the employer and employee to avoid any confusion.

Need help dealing with flexible work arrangements or creating a policy?  Call HR Gurus on 1300 959 560.

This blog was written by resident HR Guru Natalie Bol.

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