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Can flexible work be for everyone?

by | Mar 16, 2022 | Covid-19 employee HR, Human Resources, Jobs

juggling flexibility

So we have the “perfect storm” of lots of factors causing constriction of the labour market in the post-lockdown environment.

There is lots of talk about working from home and hybrid working from those who had to work from home during lockdowns and would like to keep doing that for at least some of the time.

Correspondingly there is a common call to employers to be flexible in this if they are going to be competitive in that tight labour market.

But what about all of those people who can’t work from home because their job (as distinct from their boss) doesn’t allow them to.

Clearly factory workers and drivers and construction workers and those in essential services and health care and childcare and aged care and many, many more cannot do their jobs at home.

So does that mean that they cannot have some flexibility?

It shouldn’t although the options might be more limited.

Here are some to think about:

    1. Introduce RDOs to give people a day off every month
    2. Have an early finish on Friday to let people get organised for the weekend
    3. Allow people to adjust their hours to attend to personal commitments (eg an employee works an extra half hour on each of four days to get two hours off on the other day – perhaps to help with remedial reading at school or to coach a child’s sporting team)
    4. Look at job sharing arrangements where a couple of employees work part-time in the same job
    5.  Trial a 4 day week (it is working well in some places)
    6. Allow people to purchase additional annual leave for extended holidays
    7. Let people use their personal/carer’s leave more flexibly to meet important personal needs that don’t involve sick leave or caring requirements
    8. Extend the use of compassionate leave to more than just the immediate family and household (eg to attend funerals for close friends and other relatives like uncles and aunts and cousins and nephews and nieces

Then there is the law

In some cases, an employee will have a legal right to request flexible working arrangements under National Employment Standards.

The Fair Work Act provides that employees who have worked with the same employer for at least 12 months can request flexible working arrangements if they:

    • 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
    • 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.

This includes casual employees who have a reasonable expectation of continuing employment.\

Such requests can only be refused on reasonable business grounds and an employer has to respond in writing within 21 days saying whether they accept the request and, if not, why not.

Awards provide additional detail on how these are to be managed and employees are able to take the matter to the Fair Work Commission for review if their employer refuses their request.

Conclusion

There is a lot to think about in this space whether you are wrestling with hybrid working, wanting to enhance your value proposition as an employer or grappling with your legal obligations.

If there is anything in this that you would like some further advice on, give us a call on 0438 533 311. Take advantage of our offer of a free first consultation.

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Ridgeline Human Resources Pty Ltd
ABN : 24 091 644 094

enquiries@ridgelinehr.com.au

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1300 108 488

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