The opportunity to request Flexible Work Arrangements is now available for certain employees under the National Employment Standards (NES). The Fair Work Act states: “To be eligible you must have worked for your employer for at least 12 months on a full-time or part-time basis. Long term casual employees who have a reasonable expectation of ongoing employment are also eligible. A long-term casual employee would usually have been employed on a regular and systematic basis for at least 12 months”.
An employer is only able to refuse such requests on reasonable business grounds.
What does this mean?
Two examples of employees who may make Flexible Work Requests are parents, or those with responsibility for the care, of a child if that child is School age or younger; and those employees who are carers within the Carer Recognition Act 2010. There are others who may also make application. (Please see the Fair Work link at the end of the article).
The employee must make the request in writing setting out the suggested changes to their work and the reasons why they are requesting the change.
What type of flexibility are we talking about?
Each practice may have different types of requests, however some examples in changed working arrangements may be:
- a change in the hours of work (e.g. earlier or later finishing time);
- changes in patterns of work;
- time in lieu instead of overtime payments;
- longer hours on fewer days; and
- changes in location of work (although this last one will be unusual for a practice to receive unless there are other practices owned by the same dentist).
Do I have to say yes to any request?
No. An employer does not need to say yes, but it must consider the request and whether the changes may be accommodated. If, after consideration, the request does not work for the Practice but there are other possible options, it is always good to sit down and chat about these other options with the employee.
The employer must respond in writing to such requests and always within 21 days advising whether the request is approved or denied. It is always appropriate to have this as a discussion with the formal response provided at the time.
The employer may only refuse the request on reasonable business grounds. If the employer does refuse, then it must provide written reasons for the refusal.
Further information is available from Prime Practice HR Solutions and also at Fair Work on