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Your responsibilities in regards to flexible work requests Mar 1, 2019

IN February we discussed the difference between flexible employment and remote talent, focusing on the benefits of leveraging freelancers and/or remote teams.

As enthusiastic as we are about remote talent, in-house staff is still the mainstay of business in Australia and flexible employment for your in-house staff is an important part of this.

Offering flexibility to your staff is good for business; employees have been shown to be more productive and the practise engenders goodwill and loyalty from your staff.

Businesses in Australia should also understand the law in regards to flexibility in the workplace.

The Australian National Employment Standard in the Fair Work Act 2009 applies to all employees and includes a right for some employees to request flexible working arrangements.

The requests may be made by:

  • permanent employees who have completed at least 12 months of continuous service with their employer immediately before making the request; and
  • casual employees who have been employed on a regular basis for at least 12 months immediately before making the request and who have a reasonable expectation of continuing employment by the employer on a regular and systematic basis.

Eligible employees are entitled to request a change in their working arrangements if they:

  • are the parent, or have responsibility for the care, of a child who is of school age or younger
  • are a carer (within the meaning of the Carer Recognition Act 2010)
  • have a disability
  • are 55 or older
  • are experiencing violence from a member of their family, or
  • provide care or support to a member of their immediate family or household, who requires care or support because they are experiencing violence from their family.

An employer can only refuse such a request on “reasonable business grounds”. Further, it is unlawful under:

  1. the Fair Work Act to take adverse action against an employee including termination (with civil penalties for breach); and
  2. state and federal discrimination legislation to discriminate against employees, directly or indirectly in their employment, because of their family or carer’s responsibilities.

If you have any questions or concerns about your responsibilities as an employer, or need help in structuring flexible workplace agreements, you might like to chat to our associates as SBAL Legal. You can find their website

Extracts from the Fair Work Act 2009 were taken from an article by Fay Calderone June 14, 2018.



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