In certain circumstances, a change to more flexible working arrangements can be requested by employees with at least 12 months continuous service with an employer and by long term casuals who have a reasonable expectation of continuing regular and systematic work. These could include changes in hours of work, patterns of work or even location of work.
Employees with the following types of circumstances can request such a change:
- those who are parents, or who have responsibility for the care of a child who is of school age or younger;
- those with a disability;
- those who are 55 or older;
- those experiencing domestic violence, or those caring for, or supporting, an immediate family member experiencing domestic violence.
An employee’s request must be in writing, must set out the details of the change sought and the reasons for the requested change. The employer must then respond to the employee in writing within 21 days. A request can only be refused on reasonable business grounds. A refusal must include the reasons for the employer’s refusal.
The reasonable business grounds on which a request for flexible working arrangements can be refused include:
- that the new arrangement would be too costly for the employer;
- that there is no capacity to change other employees’ arrangements to accommodate those requested by the employee;
- that it would be impracticable to change the arrangements of other employees, or recruit new employees, to accommodate those requested by the employee;
- that the arrangements requested by the employee would be likely to result in a significant loss in efficiency or productivity;
- that the arrangements requested by the employee would be likely to have a significant impact on customer service.
If an Award, enterprise agreement or, less often, an employment contract allows workplace disputes to be taken to the Fair Work Commission, an employer who refuses a request may find itself before the Commission if the employee disagrees with the refusal. Further, if an employee feels discriminated against because of a refusal, he or she may challenge the employer under relevant discrimination legislation.
At Everingham Solomons, we provide guidance to both employers and employees in managing requests for flexible working arrangements because Helping You is Our Business.
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