On December 1 2018, the Fair Work Commission finalised the model term for requesting flexible working arrangements which has been inserted into all modern awards as part of the 4-yearly review.
The term applies when an employee has made a request for a change in working arrangements under the National Employment Standards (NES). Previously, there was no obligation under the NES to deal with the requesting employee about the request. However, the new model term requires the employer, before responding to the request to:
Requests can only be refused on reasonable business grounds. If employers refuse a request, they need to provide the employee with a written response.
Who can request flexible working arrangements
Employees (other than a casual employee) who have worked with the same employer for at least 12 months can request flexible working arrangements if they:
are the parent, or have responsibility for the care, of a child who is school aged or younger
How do employers handle a request?
Employers covered by an award must first discuss the request with their employee to try to reach an agreement about changes to the employee’s working conditions, taking into consideration:
All employers who receive a request must provide a written response within 21 days which outlines whether the request is approved or refused.
Employers can only refuse a request on reasonable business grounds. If a request is refused the written response must include the reasons for the refusal.
What are reasonable business grounds?
Reasonable business grounds can include:
If there is a dispute about whether the employer has ‘discussed the request with the employee and responded to the request’, the dispute is to be dealt with under the Consultation and Dispute Resolution clause in the relevant modern award.
What does this mean for you?
Employers must ensure that they are across the changes in order to remain award complaint. For this reason, and as a matter of good practice, employers should immediately update their internal HR procedures to incorporate the process outlined above and ensure those responsible for dealing with flexible working requests understand their obligations when responding to them.
Employers should also consider whether they will extend the expanded rights to non-award covered employees to ensure parity and consistency across the workforce.
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Original blog post can be viewed here: https://hrexpert.com.au/flexible-working-arrangements-under-the-new...;
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