Effective from the 1 December 2018, all Modern Awards now include a clause in relation to ‘Requests for Flexible Working Arrangements’, which formalises the process and stipulates an employer’s response to such requests.
I know what you’re thinking, here is yet another process and more compliance. However, having such processes in place help ensure that the requests of employees who have certain responsibilities or needs, are given genuine thought and consideration (and where possible applied), which in turn helps contribute to a positive working environment and retention of staff.
There are various types of flexible working arrangements that an employee may request, such as:
- Changes to starting and/or finishing time
- Hours of work
- Location of work
- Patterns of work
- Permanent employees who have completed a minimum of 12 months continuous service
- Casual employees are also entitled to request flexible working arrangements if they:
– have been employed on a regular and systematic basis for a minimum of 12 months; and
– there is a reasonable expectation that their employment will continue on a regular and systematic basis.
Employees can make a request if they require flexibility in their working arrangement due to their responsibilities as a parent, carer, have a disability, are 55 or older, are experiencing violence from a member of their family or to provide support to immediate family due to family violence.
What to do if an employee asks for flexible working hours?
So, you have received a request from an employee to change their working arrangements, what do you need to do?
- You need to discuss the request with the employee and try to genuinely reach an agreement that will reasonably accommodate the employee’s request. In doing so, you need to take into consideration:
a. The needs of the employee arising from their circumstances
b. The consequences for the employee if the change to working arrangements cannot be made
c. Any reasonable business grounds for refusing the request
- Provide the employee with a written response within 21 days of the request, as to whether or not the request has been granted or refused.
What needs to be included in the written response?
- If the request has been granted or refused
- If the request has been refused, the response needs to capture the following:
-The reasons for the refusal, including the business ground or grounds for the refusal and how the grounds apply,
-State if there are any changes in working arrangements that the employer can offer. If so, details of the offer are to be included.
- If an agreement was reached that is different to the initial request, the written response needs to include the details around the agreed changes in working conditions
Note: It is important that you refer to your relevant Award to ensure you comply with the specific requirements within the Award.
If you receive a request and are not sure if:
- Your reasons for refusal are reasonable
- Need a sounding board for finding suitable alternative arrangements
- Want to ensure that you have the appropriate documentation in place to ensure you’re compliant and avoid the potential for costly penalties associated with non-compliance.
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- Fair Work – Requests for Flexible Working Arrangements