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New rules for flexible work arrangements

A growing number of organisations recognise that flexible work arrangements are vital to effective recruitment and retention of employees. Managed correctly, flexible work arrangements offer potential for productivity gains, greater levels of employee engagement and can also help employers meet their obligation to avoid discrimination against employees with disabilities, older employees and employees with family responsibilities.

Examples of flexible working arrangements include changes to:

  • hours of work (eg: changes to start and finish times)
  • patterns of work (eg: split shifts or job sharing)
  • locations of work (eg: working from home).

Employees (other than a casual employee) who have worked with the same employer for at least 12 months can request flexible working arrangements if they:

  • are the parent, or have responsibility for the care, of a child who is school aged or younger
  • are a carer (under the Carer Recognition Act 2010)
  • have a disability
  • are 55 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.

Casual employees can make a request for a flexible working arrangement if:

  • they’ve been working for the same employer regularly and systematically for at least 12 months
  • there’s a reasonable expectation of continuing work with the employer on a regular and systematic basis.

Under the new rules, before responding to a request from an eligible employee an employer must first discuss the request with them to try to reach an agreement about a change to their working arrangements.

Requests can only be refused on reasonable business grounds and, if a request is refused, the employer must provide the employee with a written response.

Like to know more about the new rules? Employment nerds can read the Fair Work Commission decision here or, if you’d prefer the plain English translation, call Bare Bones Consulting…we speak the HR language of the people.

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Note: Bare Bones Consulting provides HR services for employers. Employees seeking advice on workplace concerns should contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94.