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Flexible Working Arrangements: Are you eligible?

Major life changes can affect your availability and the number of hours you’re able to spend at work. Maybe you have a child who has just started school? Maybe you have a family member in need of care? Or maybe you’re getting older and want a little more free time to focus on family or community? In any of these cases, you may be eligible for flexible working arrangements.

The Fair Work Commission introduced a model award term in September 2018 that requires employers to make a genuine effort to reach an agreement for flexible working arrangement requests and to provide detailed reasons for any refusals. Workers have the right to challenge employers legally for failing to properly consider their requests or for failing to provide detailed reasons for refusing them.

These changes will come into operation on 1 December 2018.

The move, which was welcomed by unions, was in response to a substantial unmet need for flexible working arrangements.

Are you entitled to flexible working arrangements? Perhaps your request has been ignored or rejected without a reason? You may be entitled to take legal action. Shine Lawyers can help you.

What are flexible working arrangements?

Flexible working arrangements can mean changes to:

  • Hours (start times, finish times etc.)
  • Patterns (split shifts, job sharing)
  • Locations (working from home etc.)

Who is eligible?

You can request flexible working arrangements if you’ve worked for the same employer for at least 12 months and:

  • You’re also the parent or carer of a child school-aged or younger
  • You’re a carer under the Care Recognition Act 2010
  • You have a disability
  • You’re aged 55 or older
  • You’re experiencing domestic or family violence or
  • You provide care or support to an immediate household or family member experiencing domestic or family violence.

How do you request flexible working arrangements?

You have to request flexible working arrangements in writing, clearly explaining the changes you’re asking for and the reasons for your request. As well as stating your own needs, it helps to consider how the request might benefit the needs of the business.

Under the new changes coming in from 1 December 2018, your employer must discuss the request with you and genuinely try and reach an agreement that will reasonably accommodate your circumstances. The employer must give a written response to the request within 21 days stating whether the request is granted, and if it is not granted they must set out the reasons why. Your employer will also need to detail any changes they can offer to accommodate your circumstances.

Possible reasons for flexible working arrangement refusal include:

  • The arrangements requested are too expensive
  • The arrangements of other employees can’t be modified to accommodate the request
  • The request would result in a loss of productivity or negatively impact customer service.

For more information about flexible working arrangements see:

Contact Us

Shine’s Workplace Relations and Employment Law team has experience in all aspects of employment law. If conflict arises with your workplace, we can fight for your rights as an employee. If you’ve had a request for flexible working arrangements ignored or denied without reasonable explanation, we can help.

If you believe you’re experiencing workplace discrimination, you may be eligible to make a claim. If you’ve been dismissed, demoted or denied an opportunity on the basis of a protected attribute, contact us for legal advice.

Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: November 26, 2018.

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