• Trish Hall

Flexible Working Arrangements – what are staff entitled to?

Updated: May 25

Employees can request flexible working arrangements anytime they want to. There will be many employee’s who have become accustomed to their new way of working, so don’t be surprised if you get a request or two for staff wanting to work from home for all or some of their hours.

Most requests that come to employers or managers are informal requests. Whilst this is ok you should ensure that a letter of variation is drafted that both parties sign to show that they mutually agree to vary the terms and conditions under the employee's employment agreement. An employer might also decline a request if they have a good business rationale for doing so, and it's good practice to record this in writing.

It’s good to know that staff can make a formal request to flexible working arrangements and what you need to do to manage it properly.

Firstly, an employees request must be in writing and state;

  • Their name!

  • The date in which the request is made,

  • That the request is made under S69AAC of the Employment Relations Act (phew!),

  • They must be clear on what variation they are asking for, and for how long it will last (temporary or permanent),

  • The date on which the employee wants to variation to take effect, and on what date it will cease if it is temporary,

  • And explain in their view what changes, if any, the employer may need to make to the employer's arrangements if the request is approved.

What should you know as an employer?

You should deal with a request as soon as possible, but no later than 1 month after receiving it, and your response as to whether the request is accepted or refused must be in writing.

If you are refusing you must state it is because of a ground specified in S69AAF(2) or (3) of the Employment Relations Act and state the ground for the refusal and explain the reasons for that ground.

So what does S69AAF (2) and (3) look like?

69AAF Grounds for refusal of a request by an employer
  1. An employer may refuse a request only if the employer determines that the request cannot be accommodated on 1 or more of the grounds specified in subsection (2).

  2. The grounds are—

  • inability to reorganise work among existing staff:

  • inability to recruit additional staff:

  • detrimental impact on quality:

  • detrimental impact on performance:

  • insufficiency of work during the periods the employee proposes to work:

  • planned structural changes:

  • the burden of additional costs:

  • detrimental effect on the ability to meet customer demand.

3. However, an employer must refuse a request if—

  • the request is from an employee who is bound by a collective agreement; and

  • the request relates to working arrangements to which the collective agreement applies; and

  • the employee’s working arrangements would be inconsistent with the collective agreement if the employer were to approve the request.

What else?

With the introduction of Family Violence Leave employees can ask for short-term changes. Keep reading for more information.

Employees who are people affected by family violence with a statutory right to make, or to have made on their behalf, a request for a short-term (2-month or shorter) variation of their working arrangements (including any additional terms that need variation), for the purpose of assisting the employees to deal with the effects on the employees of being people affected by family violence; and

  • require an employer to deal with a request as soon as possible but not later than 10 working days after receiving it; and

  • provide that an employer may refuse a request only if proof of family violence is required and not produced, or the request cannot be accommodated reasonably on certain non-accommodation grounds; and

  • if an employer does not deal with a request in accordance with this Part, provide for reference of the matter to a Labour Inspector, mediation, or the Authority.

If you need help working through requests and the best way to respond in conjunction with what your rights as an employer are - give me a call.

Flexible working at its best

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Trish: 0212077040