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Request Flexible Working Arrangements

The following information is an extract from Fair Work Ombudsman (FWOF19) www.fairwork.gov.au

Overview

Requests for flexible working arrangements form part of the National Employment Standards (NES) under Fair Work Act 2009.  For more information download the Flexible Working Arrangements Fact sheet in the resources area below.

The NES include a right for certain employees to request flexible working arrangements from their employer. An employer can only refuse such a request on reasonable business grounds.

Eligibility

An employee who is a parent or, has responsibility for the care of a child and has completed at least 12 months of continuous service may request a change in their working arrangements.

The request may be made by an employee to assist them to care for their child if the child is:

  • Under school age (6 years and under)
  • Under 18 and has a disability

Examples of changes in working arrangements may include:

  • Changes in hours of work (eg reduction in hours, changes to start/finish time)
  • Changes in patterns of work (eg job sharing)
  • Changes in location of work (eg working from home or another campus)

Casual employees are entitled to make a request if:

  • They have been employed on a regular and systematic basis for a sequence of periods of employment for at least 12 months immediately before making a request
  • There is a reasonable expectation of continuing employment on a regular and systematic basis.
Requirements for making and approving a request

A request must be made in writing and set out details of the change sought and reason for the change (click here for Employee Request Letter Template).

Employers must give employees a written response to the request within 21 days, stating whether they grant or refuse the request. Employers may refuse the request only on reasonable business grounds. If the employer refuses, the written response must include the reasons for the refusal.

What are reasonable business grounds?

The Fair Work Act 2009 does not provide a definition of what constitutes reasonable business grounds for refusing a request. However,factors that may be relevant could include:

  • The effect on the workplace and the employer’s business of approving the request, including the financial impact of doing so and the impact on efficiency, productivity and customer service
  • The inability to organise work among existing staff
  • The inability to recruit a replacement employee or the practicality or otherwise of the arrangement that may need to be put in place to accommodate the employee’s request.

The NES does not require the employer to choose between granting an employee’s request in full or refusing the request. Rather, the employer and the employee are encouraged to discuss their working arrangements and, where possible, reach an agreement that balances both their needs.

Resources Process for making and approving a request

Staff member to inform their manager as soon as possible their preference for a change to their work arrangements

Staff member to submit a written request to their manager and their respective HR Consultant
(click here for Employee Request Letter Template)

Manager to consider the request and any relevant information

Manager and staff member to meet and discuss the request

Tip: May need more than one meeting and manager may wish to discuss alternative working arrangements

Manager is required to formally respond to staff member in writing within 21 days of receiving the written request. Manager may approve, refuse or propose an alternative working arrangement.

If the manager refuses the request, the written response must include the reasons for the refusal.

Manager to put flexible working arrangement in writing once an agreement has been reached. 

Tip: The manager and staff member may like to consider a trial period in some cases and schedule one or more review date/s.

If manager and staff member are unable to reach an agreement within 21 days of the staff member’s written request, please contact the respective HR Consultant see HR Contact List