From 1st January 2010, the National Employment Standards (NES) replace the non-pay rate provisions of the Australian Fair Pay and Conditions Standard (the Standard). Under the NES, eligible employees have a right to request flexible working arrangements for employers to assist them to care for their child.
What is a flexible work arrangement?
From 1 January 2010, an employee who is a parent, or has responsibility for the care of a child, may request a change in their working arrangements.
- changes in hours of work (eg. reduction in hours worked, changes to start / finish times),
- changes in patterns of work (eg. working ‘split-shifts’ or job sharing arrangements)
- changes in location of work (eg. working from home or another location).
Who is eligible?
An employee who is a parent, or has responsibility for the care of a child, may request a change in their working arrangements.
In order to be eligible to make this request an employee:
- must have completed at least 12 months continuous service with their employer immediately before making the request or:
- be a casual employee that:
- has been employed by the employer on a regular and systematic basis for a sequence of periods of employment of at least 12 months, immediately before making the request, and
- has a reasonable expectation of continuing employment by the employer on a regular and systematic basis, and
- must have care of a child who is either:
- under school age (ie. the age at which the child is required by the applicable State or Territory law to start attending school)
- under 18 and has a disability.
How do you make a request?
The request must be made in writing and set out details of the change sought and reasons for the change.
What are the employers options?
The NES doesn’t require an employer to agree to a request for flexible working arrangements, but refusal must be made on reasonable business grounds, as outlined below.
Employers and employees are encouraged to discuss their working arrangements and, where possible, reach an agreement that balances both their needs.
Factors that may be relevant in defining reasonable business grounds could include:
- the effect on the workplace and the employer‘s business of approving the request, including the financial impact of doing so and the impact on efficiency, productivity and customer service
- the inability to organise work among existing staff
- the inability to recruit a replacement employee
- the practicality or otherwise of the arrangements that may need to be put in place to accommodate the employee‘s request.
If you need grater flexibility in your work arrangement, it is worthwhile checking out what your rights are on the Fair Work website and talking to your employer …
Also check out the Fair Work Ombudsman website for best practice guides on Work & Family. A great guide for both employers and employees.