The National Employment Standards (NES) replace the non-pay rate provisions of the Australian Fair Pay and Conditions Standard (the Standard). Under the NES, eligible employees have a right to request flexible working arrangements to assist them to care for their child.
As of 1st of January, an eligible employee who is a parent or who has responsibility for the care of a child, may appeal for a change in their working arrangements.
Who is eligible?
Request may be made by an employee to assist them to care for their child if the child is:
a.) Under school age (i.e. the age at which the child is required by the applicable State or Territory law to start attending school)
b.) Under 18 and has a disability.
These working arrangements changes are as follows:
a.) Changes in patterns of work (e.g. working ‘split-shifts’ or job sharing arrangements)
b.) Changes in location of work (e.g. working from home or another location).
c.) Changes in hours of work (e.g. work hours reduction, changes to start / finish times)
Casual employees are entitled to make a request if:
a.) They have been employed by the employer on a regular and systematic basis for a sequence of periods of employment of at least 12 months immediately before making the request
b.) There is a reasonable expectation of continuing employment by the employer on a regular and systematic basis.
What are the requirements?
The request must be made through writing and specify details of the reasons for the change.
Employers must give employees a written response to the request within 21 days, stating whether they grant or refuse the request. An employer can only refuse such a request on ‘reasonable business grounds’.
What are the ‘reasonable business grounds’?
The Fair Work Act 2009 does not provide a definition of what constitutes reasonable business grounds for refusing a request.
However, factors that may be relevant could include:
a.) The effect on the workplace and the employer‘s business of approving the request, including the financial impact of doing so and the impact on efficiency, productivity and customer service
b.) The inability to organise work among existing staff
c.) The inability to recruit a replacement employee or the practicality or otherwise of the arrangements that may need to be put in place to accommodate the employee‘s request.