As part of the 4 yearly review of modern awards, a decision has been made to insert a flexibility term into all modern awards, effective 1 December 2018.
Previously this was covered under the NES, which stated that the following eligible employees, with at least 12 months service could request flexible work arrangements.
- A parent or an employee with the responsibility for the care, of a child who is school age or younger
- A carer
- An employee with a disability
- An employee who is 55 or older
- An employee experiencing family or domestic violence
- An employee who is providing care or support to a member of their household or immediate family who requires care and support because of family or domestic violence
The new award requirements require an employer to hold a genuine discussion with the employee around the request to try and reach an agreement. The employer will have 21 days to respond to the request and must do so in writing.
Requests can only be refused on reasonable business grounds. When responding employers must now:
Include details of the reason for refusal
State whether or not there are any changes in working arrangements that can be offered to better accommodate the employees circumstances
If other changes can be offered, setting out those changes in working conditions
What should you do to prepare?
If you don’t currently have a flexibility policy and procedure in place, we suggest that you have one developed and communicate this to all staff. Be clear around the process and who will be responsible for handling any requests.
Ensure you respond to all requests within 21 days; only refuse requests on reasonable business grounds. If you do refuse a request, make sure you include details of any other ways you could provide flexibility for the employee to meet their individual needs, whilst still ensuring the organisation is meeting their objectives.