New rules for managing flexible working arrangements

From 1 December new rules were introduced by the Fair Work Commission regarding flexible work arrangements.  Under the rule changes an Employer may only refuse a request (made under Sect 65 of the Fair Work Act) for a change in working arrangements on ‘reasonable business grounds’.  In addition, Employers need to consult with the Employee making a request and genuinely try to reach agreement on a request to change working arrangements that will reasonably accommodate the employee’s circumstances having regard to:

  • the needs of the employee arising from their circumstances;
  • the consequences for the employee if changes in working arrangements are not made; and
  • any reasonable business grounds for refusing the request.

The Employer must give the employee a written response (to an employee’s Sect 65 request) within 21 days, stating whether the request is approved or not.

If the request is rejected, the Employer will have to provide detailed reasons as to why the request was rejected.  Employers may also look to provide some alternate arrangements that may be more suitable to business requirements that the employee can consider.

Ultimately, Employees do not have an automatic right to flexible working arrangements, but in the event that a formal request is made and subsequently rejected, the Employee has a right to be provided with detailed reasons as to why their request has been rejected.  Employees also have a right to dispute a decision, if the request process has not been followed or the Employer has been unable to establish ‘reasonable business grounds’ for rejecting a request.

Should you receive a formal request from an employee regarding flexible working arrangements, just give the team at Human Outsource a call and we can make sure that you not only meet your obligations but also work towards an outcome that works for both you and your employee.