One of the minimum terms and conditions provided under the Fair Work Act 2009 is the right to flexibility at work. This means that certain employees can request flexibility regarding their job such as changing their:
- start and finish times;
- patterns of work; or
- locations of work.
In What Circumstances, Can I Request Flexible Work Arrangements?
If you have been working for your employer for at least twelve months, you can ask for flexible working arrangements if you:
- are a parent and you care for your school aged children; or
- are not a parent but you care for children; or
- have a disability; or
- are aged 55 or older; or
- are a victim of family or domestic violence; or
- are caring for an immediate family member who is suffering from family or domestic violence.
How Can I Request Flexible Working Arrangements?
You should write to your employer and explain what changes in your working conditions you are seeking. You must also explain the reasons why you are making the request.
What Can I Expect My Employer To Do With My Request?
Within 21 days, your employer needs to give you a written response. The employer’s response must state whether the request is granted or refused and the reasons for the refusal. Your employer can only refuse your request for flexible work on reasonable business grounds.
Reasonable business grounds may mean that
- the work arrangements you requested are too costly,
- the working arrangements of your co-employees cannot be changed to accommodate your request,
- the changes requested may require the employer to hire a new employee,
- the flexibility arrangement will cause significant loss of productivity or negatively impact customer service.
My Employer Refused My Request For Flexible Work Arrangements, What Can I Do?
First attempt to resolve the issue directly with your employer. If it cannot be resolved, then you should get legal advice.
If your employer unreasonably refused your request, that may be a breach of the Fair Work Act 2009, and your employer may be liable to pay penalties.
In some cases, an employer’s refusal of a request for a flexible work arrangement may also constitute an act of discrimination based on gender, parental responsibility, pregnancy, age or disability. If that occurred, it is a breach of the law.
In 2023, new laws came into force that allow the Fair Work Commission to resolve disputes about requests for flexibility at work.
How Can MKI Legal Help You?
If your employer unreasonably refuses your request for a flexible workplace arrangement or you feel that such refusal may be an act that discriminates against you, you can talk with our lawyers who can offer you a no-obligation and confidential consultation