With school back in full swing, we have been answering a number of enquiries around staff requesting flexible working hours. Staff members are trying to balance both work and the responsibilities of caring for their school-aged children.
Are you aware that there is a provision under the National Employment Standards and Fair Work Act around flexible working arrangements?
Unfortunately, even if you think you or your business cannot support their request it is not a simple ‘no’ response back to the employee. Under the legislation, an employee has the right to request flexible working arrangements if they have:
- worked for an employer for 12 months or more; and
- caring responsibilities for a child who is school aged or younger.
There are a number of pros and cons to the business when such a request is made and the response to the employee must be fully considered before advising the employee of the final decision.
The great news for businesses is that facilitating flexible workplace practices can result in positive changes such as lower absenteeism, greater productivity and increased employee morale.
Possible flexible working arrangements?
Flexible working arrangements which could help employees manage the back to school juggle include changes to:
- patterns of work – e.g. split shift or job sharing to work around school hours
- hours of work – e.g. a later start time to allow an employee to drop the kids off
- locations of work – e.g. working from home to shorten an employee’s day by avoiding a long commute.
How to make and manage requests for flexible working arrangements
Requests for flexible working arrangements must be made in writing by the employee to the employer. The employer is required to consider the request and respond in writing to the employee to tell them their answer within 21 days.
Just because an employee makes a request, doesn’t mean that you have to bend over backwards to accommodate it. As an employer, you can refuse a request if there are reasonable business grounds (we can talk you through what is and what isn’t ‘reasonable business grounds’).
It is important to note that open communication for these types of requests is really important and that some negotiation can result in reaching the best outcome possible for all parties.
If you would like more information on this topic, please do not hesitate to contact us (07) 5510 4863 / firstname.lastname@example.org .
Human Resource Specialists Gold Coast to Brisbane.