We think it’s important that all employers are aware of recent changes to flexible work legislation that have been introduced by the Fair Work Commission (FWC) for all employees covered by a Modern Award, who are not casuals, and have been in employment for 12 months and they:
- Are the parent, or have responsibility for the care, of a child who is school aged or younger
- Are a carer (under the Carer Recognition Act 2010)
- Have a disability
- Are 55 or older
- Are experiencing family or domestic violence, or
- Provide care or support to a member of their household, or immediate family, who requires care and support because of family or domestic violence
Casual employees can make a request if they:
- Have been working for the same employer regularly and systematically for at least 12 months
- Have a reasonable expectation of continuing work with the employer on a regular and systematic basis
What has changed?
The changes introduce an obligation for employers to have a more structured approach to dealing with requests for flexible working.
From 1 December 2018 employers will now have to detail the reasonable business grounds that led to a refusal of a flexible work request. This needs to include details of any alternative arrangements that could be considered. Additionally, workers will now have the right to launch a legal challenge if the correct process was not followed.
Does this mean you have to grant a flexible work request?
No. As an employer you have the right to reject a flexible work request if you have reasonable grounds. This may include an impact on customer service, cost issues or an inability to fill the gaps with existing or new workers. The changes do, however, mean that you have to justify your reasoning, around how you came to your decision.
What should you do if an employee submits a flexible work request?
Here are our tips should you be faced with a request for flexible working:
- Meet the employee face to face to discuss their request
- Consider how you can make it work for the employee and, if you can’t, consider other flexible work options that may work
- If you are rejecting the claim, state in writing the reasons for the claim being rejected, and any possible alternatives
- Meet the employee face to face to discuss the outcome – don’t hide behind a letter!
- Remember to be open and transparent with your employee about the challenges their flexible work request has for your business. Discuss with them possible compromises and be open to suggestions. Having open communication and, where possible, accommodating flexible work arrangements, can help increase employee-engagement in your business.
We can provide advice, and even a template policy, around flexible working, so if you have any concerns or want to talk through these new requirements, why not Book a Discovery Session with us right now?