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The Fair Work Act 2009 (FW Act) contains entitlements which an employer must provide to employees to assist employers and employees achieve better work and family balance. Access to entitlements under the FW Act will vary depending on whether the employee is a casual, full-time or part-time employee.

The National Employment Standards (NES) set out a safety net of minimum entitlements for most national system employees. The NES includes:

  • a 38 hour working week for full-time employees, plus reasonable additional hours
  • four weeks annual leave per year (pro-rata for part-time employees)
  • 10 days of personal/carer’s leave per year (pro-rata for part-time employees) plus two days compassionate leave for each occasion
  • 12 months unpaid parental leave after 12 months continuous service with a right to request to extend the initial period of unpaid parental leave by a further 12 months (which can only be refused on reasonable business grounds)
  • community service leave (for an eligible community service activity)
  • public holidays
  • the right to make a written request for flexible working arrangements by employees because 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.

A request for flexible working arrangements can only be refused on reasonable business grounds.

Example: Reasonable business grounds for refusing a request from an employee may include, but are not limited to:

  • the new working arrangements requested by the employee would be too costly for the employer
  • there is no capacity to change the working arrangements of other employees to accommodate the new working arrangements requested by the employee
  • it would be impractical to change the working arrangements of other employees, or recruit new employees, to accommodate the new working arrangements requested by the employee
  • the new working arrangements requested by the employee would be likely to result in significant loss of efficiency or productivity
  • the new working arrangements requested by the employee would be likely to have a significant negative impact on customer service.

Some of these entitlements are not available to casual employees. For more information about these entitlements, visit the Flexible working arrangements page or contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94.

In addition to the FW Act, other legislation – such as state/territory and federal anti-discrimination laws – operates to ensure that employees are not discriminated against where they have certain family or carer responsibilities. Some of this legislation also includes a right to request flexible working arrangements. Best practice employers should familiarise themselves with the relevant state or territory legislation which regulates their business. See also best practice guide No 1a  ‘The right to request flexible working arrangements’.

Employers can build on the minimum entitlements by implementing family-friendly workplace strategies.

Source: FairWork

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