Late last year there were a flurry of changes implemented around employment conditions and modern awards. We’ve already covered Family and Domestic Leave updates and Casual Loading Offsets. Now, we bring you all the details around the updates to Flexible Work Arrangements and Modern Awards.

Flexible Work Arrangements are available to full time and part time employees who have worked for the employer for at least 12 months and who are covered by a Modern Award. Casual employees who don’t work regular, systematic hours with an expectation of ongoing work are excluded from this entitlement. This means your ‘regular casual’ could be entitled to make a flexible work request.

The other proviso of this entitlement, as per the Fair Work website is that the employee must:

  • be the parent, or have responsibility for the care, of a child who is school-aged or younger
  • be a carer (under the Carer Recognition Act 2010)
  • have a disability
  • be 55 or older
  • be 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.

For the request to be officially a Flexible Work Arrangement request, the employee must

  • put the request in writing,
  • address the changes they are asking for and,
  • state the reason/s for this request.

The employer must then first DISCUSS the request with the employee; the aim of which should be to reach an agreement with the employee. The employer should not issue an automatic refusal on business grounds and should always discuss the request with the employee first.

From there, the employer needs to confirm in writing within 21 days, if the request has been approved, rejected or modified and agreed upon. If the employer does reject the request on reasonable business grounds (perhaps the changes would be prohibitive cost-wise, or customer service would significantly suffer, for example) then these reasons would also need to be outlined in the written confirmation. Modern Awards now require the following specifics in relation to these formal responses:

What the written response must include if the employer refuses the request

(a) The written response must include details of the reasons for the refusal, including the business ground or grounds for the refusal and how the ground or grounds apply.

(b) If the employer and employee could not agree on a change in working arrangements, the written response under must:

(i) state whether or not there are any changes in working arrangements that the employer can offer the employee so as to better accommodate the employee’s circumstances; and

(ii) if the employer can offer the employee such changes in working arrangements, set out those changes in working arrangements.

What the written response must include if a different change in working arrangements is agreed

If the employer and the employee reached an agreement on a change in working arrangements that differs from that initially requested by the employee, the employer must provide the employee with a written response to their request setting out the agreed change(s) in working arrangements.

 

You should check your relevant modern award regularly to ensure you understand how these changes (and many others) impact your business processes. These changes appear to be promoting genuine conversations, transparency and clarity around requesting flexibility at work. If you need help managing your employment obligations, we’re here to help. Get in touch with our team today for all your workforce and payroll management needs.