Flexible work arrangements

Summary of topics

  • What are flexible work arrangements?
  • How to negotiate flexible work arrangments
  • Responding to a request for flexible work arrangements

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Giving your employees the flexibility they want, while still ensuring your business needs are met, can help create a positive, more productive and inclusive workplace. In some cases, a flexible work arrangement can help an employee with disability to fulfil their job requirements, while accommodating the individual's personal needs such as medical appointments, rest periods, family time, or treatment program. Under the Commonwealth Fair Work Act 2009, employees with disability have the right to request a change in working arrangements if they have been with the same employer for at least twelve months. A flexible work arrangement might include a change to a person's hours of work, pattern of work, or location of work.

So, it's really good with the flexible workplace, and they allow, like if we need to work from home one day, they allow us to work from home. Which is, yeah, so that's where the flexible hours come in. So yeah, I think it's about open communication and just making sure that your line manager and your team understand what's going on. And they're pretty accommodating. They're really accommodating.

[Auslan Interpreter] I've worked here for eight years now. So I was working out at Alexandria first, and that was a big drive every morning. So, I actually approached Australia Post and asked them, could I move to a depot closer to home? So, this is lovely and close to home now, and I've quite enjoy my job. I get a bit of a sleep in much better than driving all the way in Alexandria everyday. But, I really do enjoy my job. I'm a walker, so I deliver my posts by walking my run, and I enjoy it very much.

When negotiating arrangements with employees, it's important to understand what your employees' needs are. Encourage them to be honest about their preferred working arrangements, and the reasons why they prefer to work that way. Ask your employee to put the request in writing, explaining the changes being asked for, and the reasons why, if they haven't already done so. Once you receive a request for flexible working arrangements, you have 21 days to provide a written response, saying if the request is granted or refused. You must document your decision making process, and show that you have genuinely considered the request. Under fair work law, you can only refuse flexible working arrangements on reasonable business grounds. For example, if it is too costly, or would cause a significant loss of productivity. But you don't have to simply choose to either accept or refuse a request. An alternative is to negotiate an arrangement that balances your business needs, with the employee's needs, making it a win-win situation.

Flexible working arrangements can mean a number of things. Being open to the idea and understanding how to implement these arrangements can be a great benefit to any organisation.


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