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Flexible work for employees

Flexible work arrangements are a popular and effective way to keep a balance between work and other commitments in your life.  These arrangements can also boost productivity.

Employers have a legal responsibility not refuse flexible work arrangements for an employee with parental or carer responsibilities, unless it is reasonable to do so in the circumstances.

In practice, there are many different ways to implement flexible work arrangements. They may include arrangements around:

  • when you work, for example starting and finishing work earlier or later
  • where you work, for example working from home 
  • how you work, for example job sharing.

Making a request

There are various ways that you may raise your request with your employer. There may be formal written processes in your workplace to follow or it may be an informal conversation with your supervisor. Your employer must consider each request seriously and individually. 

An employer does not have to agree to every request. However they cannot refuse a request unless it is reasonable to do so in the circumstances. 

Factors to consider

When you are discussing options with your employer, be prepared to explain how the flexible work arrangements will impact on your carer or parental responsibilities. Also be prepared to consider how the arrangements may impact on your workplaces, based on related to size, nature and financial circumstances of the business.

Other issues to discuss include:

  • when the arrangements are to start
  • how long the arrangements will last
  • your entitlements such as personal/carer’s leave or annual leave
  • relevant legal or other constraints such as occupational health and safety laws or award penalty rates.

Reasonable adjustments

Flexible work arrangements can also be an example of reasonable workplace adjustments, which are changes that allow people with disability to work safely and productively. 

Employer responsibilities

Under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, employers must not refuse flexible arrangements for an employee with parental or carer responsibilities, unless it is reasonable to do so in the circumstances.

Employers may have other legal obligations to parents and carers under the National Employment Standards. Under these standard, an employee with 12 months continuous service may request a change in working arrangements to assist with a child’s care if they are parents or carers of:

  • a child under school age, or 
  • a child under 18 with disability.

Complaints to the Commission

An employee can lodge a complaint of discrimination with the Commission if they believe they have been discriminated against during discussions about flexible work arrangements because of a personal characteristic that is protected under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010.


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