Flexible working arrangements have become increasingly popular in recent years, and with good reason. By allowing employees to work in a way that suits their individual needs and circumstances, flexible working arrangements can lead to increased job satisfaction, better work-life balance, and improved productivity.
Additionally, The COVID19 pandemic forced many companies to quickly transition to remote and hybrid working environments in order to continue operating. Many employers who had previously been hesitant to allow employees to work from home suddenly had no choice but to do so, and many found that their employees were just as productive, if not more so, when working remotely.
In Australia, some classes of employees have the right to request flexible working arrangements under the Fair Work Act 2009. The employees included are any employees (other than casual workers) who have worked with the same organization for more than 12 months. Addtionally, employees must meet one of the following criteria:
The Fair Work Ombudsman in Australia outlines several different types of flexible working arrangements that can be offered by employers. These include:
The entitlement to request flexible work is being expended to include people who are pregnant, or who are experiencing a broadened definition of domestic violence.
Additionally, the new legislation provides greater powers to the Fair Work Commission to create processes and mediate disputes about flexible working requests.
The Act has been passed and will come into affect on the 6th of June 2023.
The best approach for employers is to make sure they have arrangements in place to allow employees to work flexible hours, or from flexible locations ahead of time. Employers have the right to refuse requests on "reasonable grounds" (see below), but these do not allow organisations to offer a blanket refusal. It is also important to note that for most office based businesses, they have already demonstrated they they can operate a hybrid working model, over the last few years.
Scenarios which can be considered reasonable grounds can include:
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