HR alert: changes to all modern awards in effect from 1 December
New rules about requests for flexible work arrangements will be included in all modern awards from 1 December 2018.
The Fair Work Commission has said that, as part of the changes, requests by an employee for a flexible working arrangement must be considered by an employer, and can only be refused on reasonable business grounds.
Before responding to a request from an eligible employee, Fair Work said, an employer must first discuss the request with the employee to try to reach an agreement about a change to their working arrangements. This discussion should consider:
- 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.
Under the ruling, employees will now be able to legally challenge an employer’s decision if they fail to genuinely try to reach an agreement on flexible working arrangements.
If requests for flexible working arrangements are refused, the employer will be required to provide a detailed, written explanation as to why the request cannot be met within 21 days of the request.
If an agreement cannot be reached, the written statement should include whether or not there are any other changes in working arrangements that the employer can offer to better accommodate the employee’s circumstances, and if so, outline what these are.
More information on flexible working arrangements on employer responsibilities can be found on the Fair Work Commission website.