Flexible work arrangements allow you to and your employees to agree to alter certain working conditions to suit the employee. It might include changing the employee's hours or shift patterns, or allowing them to work remotely.
It's usually done to improve work–life balance.
Benefits of flexible work arrangements
Providing flexible working arrangements can benefit both you and your employees.
A flexible workplace promotes diversity, as it allows people with different personal situations the same access to work.
Employees with access to flexible arrangements are also usually more satisfied in their work. While employers can enjoy the increased productivity and efficiency that comes with happier employees.
Types of flexible work arrangements
Consider allowing any of the following options to increase loyalty and productivity in your business.
Permanent part-time work
Permanent part-time work can help provide a part-time income for a family with a new child, for example, and works well for 2-parent families.
Graduated return to work after parental leave
Graduated return to work after parental leave is when the employee returns part-time and then builds up to full-time work by an agreed date.
Flexible start and finish times
Offering your staff flexible start and finish times helps accommodate childcare and school pick-up requirements. It also allows people time to schedule appointments or run errands that might only be achieved during typical working hours.
Flexible rostering includes split shifts.
Job sharing is where 2 or more employees share one full-time position – each working on a part-time basis.
Work from home or remote work
Working from home is a great option for employees with young families or for those who might have a longer commute to the workplace.
When staff work from home, make sure you have good systems and policies in place to:
- allow for productivity to continue
- ensure occupational health and safety
Use our Working from home safety and wellbeing checklist (DOCX 27.41 KB) to help you and your employees assess your remote workspaces.
Purchased leave is where employees adjust their salary to take extra weeks of leave per year. For example, if someone wanted an extra 4 weeks of leave per year, they could adjust their salary to the 48-week equivalent paid over the full 52 weeks.
Compressed hours is where employees work additional daily hours to provide for a shorter working week or fortnight.
Create a flexible working policy
Include your flexible working policy in your human resources (HR) manual. This will ensure that your employees know what's expected of them if they want to ask for flexible working arrangements.
If you haven't created a manual yet, use our HR policies and procedures manual template (DOCX 216.86 KB) and adjust it to suit your business needs.
Right to request flexible work arrangements
Employees who have worked for you for at least 12 months are entitled to request flexible working arrangements for certain reasons. For example, if they:
- need to care for their school-aged child
- have a disability
- have caring responsibilities
- are over 55
- are experiencing family violence
This is one of the minimum conditions of employment included in the National Employment Standards (NES). This entitlement extends to regular casuals.
Considering a request for flexibility
As an employer, if you receive a request for flexible working hours, consider the:
- employee's work and parental or carer responsibilities
- parenting costs for the employee
- financial circumstances of the employer
- effect of the flexible working arrangements on other employees and the workplace
- consequences for the business
- consequences for the employee of not having the arrangements
Responding to a request for flexibility
Carefully consider flexible work requests. You can only refuse a request on reasonable business grounds.
If you do refuse the request, you must set out your reasons why in your written response.
Workplace flexibility course
Take the Workplace flexibility course on the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) website to learn how to handle requests for flexible working arrangements: