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Most of us dream about having flexible working arrangements. The ability to start and finish at a different time than ‘normal’, job share with someone else or maybe work from home once a fortnight. But did you know that certain employees actually have the right to request flexible working arrangements?

Who can request flexible working arrangements?

Have you been working for your employer for more than 12 months (this includes casuals who have been working regularly and systematically with an expectation of continued work)? Then you may be able to request flexible working arrangements if you:

  • are the parent, or have responsibility for the care, of a child who is school aged or younger
  • are a carer (under the Carer Recognition Act 2010)
  • have a disability (and are qualified for a disability support pension under the Social Security Act 1991)
  • are 55 or older
  • are experiencing family or domestic violence, or
  • provide care or support to a member of their household or immediate family who requires care and support because of family or domestic violence.

What can I request?

Flexible working arrangements include things like:

  • changes to hours of work (eg. changes to start and finish times to accommodate family commitments)
  • patterns of work (eg. job sharing or working longer days for a shorter working week)
  • locations of work (eg. working from home).
  • rostering (eg.  split shifts)
  • graduated return to work (eg. where you return to work part time and build up to full time by an agreed date)

How do I request flexible working?

All requests for flexible working arrangements must be given in writing to your employer explaining what changes you are requesting and why you are requesting those changes.

Can the request be refused?

Yes. A request can be refused on the grounds of reasonable business grounds. This includes being too costly to implement, other employees arrangements cannot be modified to meet the request or the request would result in a significant loss of productivity or customer service.

Whats in it for the employer?

Giving employees some flexibility has a number of positive effects, most notably on staff morale. Creating a positive workplace improves productivity and motivation, reduces absenteeism and staff turnover and reduces staffing costs.

Obviously not every job can be flexible, and you need to take into account your position to see whether flexible working arrangements could work. But if you fall into the above categories, and need flexible working arrangements, it may be worth having a chat to your employer and making a request. Just remember, if you want your request to be granted, look at what you are after, the reasons for the request, and the potential benefits for both you and your employer.

Sources: Fair Work Ombudsman; Business.gov.au

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