Employers need to know about the changes to Flexible Working Arrangements under section 65 of the Fair Work Act and the relevance to their businesses.
The Fair Work Commission has made a decision to include a new clause to all modern awards. The clause will state that employers are obligated to discuss flexible working arrangements with employees who submit requests. Employers are required to genuinely try to reach an agreement to accommodate an employee’s request for flexible working arrangements or consider alternative options to assist employees with their work arrangements.
Why was this decision made?
This decision was made due to a significant number of Australian employees seeking flexible workplace arrangements, and not satisfied with their current working arrangements. In the past, employers could provide the reasons of “due to business operational reasons” or “we don’t do part-time” to discourage flexible workplace arrangements.
According to ACTU Secretary Sally McManus, the new clause was “a step in the right direction in making sure our workplace laws are in tune with the modern needs of working women and working families”.
What are your responsibilities as an employer?
Employers will need to provide justification in writing, upon request, for their decisions in denying flexible working arrangements. The new clause in the modern awards will enable employees to legally challenge a decision if their employer fails to provide a detailed explanation of any refusal and are unable to demonstrate a proper consideration of their employee’s requests.
What happens when employers are not able to accommodate the request?
In the case where an agreement is not reached between an employer and an employee, the employers may need to demonstrate alternatives in working arrangements to showcase that alternative support might assist an employee’s circumstances.
When can employees make a request for a flexible workplace arrangement?
The threshold eligibility of 12 months of service remains unchanged for employees to submit a flexible workplace arrangement request.
Who can make a request for a flexible workplace arrangement?
- Employees with parental or caring responsibilities can request for part-time work hours or work from home
- Employees who have a disability or are aged over 55
- Employees experiencing domestic violence
by Shereen Kumar
Associate – 360HR
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