Beat the back to school blues with flexible working arrangements

Long work days and short school hours can be challenging for employees balancing work commitments with caring for school-aged children. Flexible working arrangements can go a long way to bridging the gap.

The great news for business is that flexible workplace practices can also result in lower absenteeism, greater productivity and increased employee morale.

Employees have the right to request flexible working arrangements if they have:

  • worked for an employer for 12 months or more
  • caring responsibilities for a child who is school aged or younger.

Which flexible working arrangements?

Flexible working arrangements which could help employees manage the back to school blues include changes to:

  • hours of work - eg. a later start time to allow an employee to drop the kids off
  • patterns of work - eg. split shift or job sharing to work around school hours
  • locations of work - eg. working from home to shorten an employee’s day by avoiding a long commute.

How to make and manage requests for flexible working arrangements

Requests for flexible working arrangements must be made in writing to the employer. The employer has to consider the request and write to the employee to tell them their answer within 21 days.

An employer can only refuse a request if there are reasonable business grounds.

Remember employers and employees can discuss the request and come to an arrangement that balances the needs of the business against the needs of the employee.

For more information about how to make or manage a request, including what is considered ‘reasonable business grounds’, go to:

For tips on making your workplace family-friendly, check out our Work and family best practice guide.

Flexible working arrangements for other reasons

Employees can request flexible work arrangements for reasons other than caring for school-aged children. Check out the full list on our Flexible working arrangements page.

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