Flexibility in the workplace

Flexibility in the workplace allows employers and employees to agree on changes to working arrangements that suit them both.

What workplace flexibility can look like

Workplace flexibility comes in many forms and can look like:

  • changes to start and finish times
  • job sharing
  • compressed working hours
  • working from home or another location.

Flexibility helps employees maintain a work-life balance. It also can help employers improve the productivity and efficiency of their business.

As long as employees are still receiving their minimum entitlements, employers and employees can negotiate ways to make their workplace more flexible.

Ways to request flexible working arrangements

Under the Fair Work Act, there are 2 main ways employees can make their work arrangements more flexible:

  • flexible working arrangements – when certain employees have worked for the same employer for 12 months, they can make a request to have change their working arrangements
  • individual flexibility arrangements – an employer and an employee can negotiate to change how certain terms apply in an award or their enterprise or registered agreement.

Employees covered by an award also have some extra entitlements when asking for flexible working arrangements.

Flexible working arrangements

Some employees have the right to request flexible working arrangements after 12 months of employment.

Examples of flexible working arrangements include changes to:

  • hours of work
  • patterns of work
  • location of work.

When making a request, there are rules for:

  • employees and applying for flexible working arrangements
  • employers and responding to these requests and genuinely trying to reach a solution.

Learn more on who is eligible and what rules apply at Flexible working arrangements.

Working from home

Working from home arrangements can be agreed between an employer and employee. It’s an option employees can negotiate with their employer if they’re eligible to make a request for flexible working arrangements.

Employers who offer employees the option to work from home should check if there are any applicable rules in their:

  • enterprise agreement
  • award
  • employment contract
  • workplace policies.

Get guidance on workplace health and safety and working from home from Safe Work Australia – Working from home.

Individual flexibility arrangements

An employer and an employee can negotiate to change how certain terms apply in an award or their enterprise or registered agreement. This written agreement is called an individual flexibility arrangement (or IFA).

For awards, an IFA can vary clauses like:

  • working hours
  • overtime rates
  • allowances.

An employer and employee need to genuinely agree to an IFA.

Employees can’t be forced to make an IFA. They also can’t be treated adversely or discriminated against for refusing to enter an IFA.

Learn more about IFAs and check all the rules that apply at Individual flexibility arrangements.

Source reference: Fair Work Act 2009 s.65, 144 and 202.

Tools and resources

Related information

Help for small business