Flexible working arrangements
Certain employees have the right to request flexible working arrangements. Employers can only refuse these requests on reasonable business grounds.
What are flexible working arrangements?
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).
Who can request flexible working arrangements?
Employees 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 (and are qualified for a disability support pension under the Social Security Act 1991)
- 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.
An employee can request flexible working arrangements to assist them with these circumstances.
Examples: Eligibility for flexible working arrangements
Greg wants to start work at 10am instead of 9am so he can take his son to pre-school. He can request flexible working arrangements to help him care for his son.
Anna has asked her employer if she can work from home because her disability makes it hard for her to travel to the office. She can request flexible working arrangements because her request relates to her disability.
Casual employees can make a request 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.
How do employees request flexible working arrangements?
Requests for flexible working arrangements have to:
- be in writing
- explain what changes are being asked for
- explain the reasons for the request.
What should employers do with a request?
Employers who receive a request must give a written response within 21 days saying whether the request is granted or refused. They can only refuse a request on reasonable business grounds. If a request is refused the written response must include the reasons for the refusal.
Best practice tip
Employers don't have to choose between accepting or rejecting a request in full. Once a request has been made, employers and employees can discuss and negotiate to come to an arrangement that balances both of their needs.
What are reasonable business grounds?
Reasonable business grounds can include:
- the requested arrangements are too costly
- other employees' working arrangements can't be changed to accommodate the request
- it’s 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.
Do state and territory laws still apply?
If a state or territory law provides an employee with a better entitlement to flexible working arrangements this will continue to apply.
Source reference: Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) clauses 65-66
Think a mistake might have been made?
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Check out our Help resolving workplace issues section for practical advice on:
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- talking to your employer or employee about fixing it
- getting help from us if you can't resolve it.
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