The Flexible Working Arrangements model is changing, with more responsibility on the employer to work with the employee on their requests.
From 1st December 2018, an updated Flexible Working Arrangement model will be added to all Modern Awards. Requests for flexible working arrangements are made under the National Employment Standards (NES). Whilst under the NES there is no obligation for the employer to deal with the employee prior to responding to a request; the new Award inclusion will mean that employers must consult with the employee and try to reach an agreement.
What you need to know
When an employee makes a formal request for a change to their working hours or conditions, the employer must:
- Discuss the request with the employee
- Genuinely try to reach agreement on a change in working arrangements that will reasonably accommodate the employee’s circumstances, having regard to:
o the needs of the employee arising from their circumstances
o the consequences for the employee if changes in working arrangements are not made
o any reasonable business grounds for refusing the request
Under the NES, if refusing the request, the employer must give the details as to why. The new Award term goes further to include that an employer must state:
- The business ground or other grounds relied upon by the employer for the refusal
- How the ground or grounds apply
- If the employer and employee could not agree on a change in working arrangements, whether there are any changes in working arrangements that the employer can offer the employee to better accommodate the employee’s circumstances
- If the employer can offer the employee such changes in working arrangements, details of those changes in working arrangements
If the employer and employee reach an agreement that is different from the initial request, the employer must outline the details in writing to the employee. The NES allows for 21 days in which to respond to requests for flexible working arrangements. Therefore, consultation should take place as early in the process as possible. This will allow for all details or alternative arrangements to be fully discussed and considered prior to the response deadline.
Is your business ready for the changes to Flexible Working Arrangement requests? Do you have accurate policies, procedures and training in place so that your managers know how to handle the requests correctly?
Don’t get caught out with incorrect operating procedures, under the Fair Work Act, there are fines applicable for non-compliance.
If you need help with this or any other areas of HR call now for a no obligation discussion.