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Flexible working hours
Coronavirus (COVID-19): Alternative work arrangements
The impact of COVID-19 on your business may result in changes to your employees' work arrangements. For example, they could be working from home or have changes to their rosters, hours of work or duties.
Read about making alternative working arrangements during coronavirus.
Employees on flexible working hours have staggered start and finish times and use accrued time (also known as flex-time).
These arrangements have no impact on their entitlements and there is no change to the total hours that employees work.
Staggered start and finish times
Staggered start and finish times enable employees to choose their time of arrival and departure, within the limits set by:
- their relevant award - ordinary spread of hours (e.g. 6am to 6pm, Monday to Friday)
- organisational core hours - designated periods of time during the day when employees are required to be at work (e.g. 10am to 4pm).
Accrued time is any authorised hours worked in excess of an employee's standard working requirements (e.g. 7.6 hours a day), which are worked within the ordinary spread of hours. Work performed outside the ordinary spread of hours may attract overtime or time off in lieu (TOIL), dependent on the award.
Time can be accrued when:
- operational demands require employees to work beyond their standard working hours
- employees require flexibility in the length of their workdays (e.g. an employee may want to work 5 hours on 1 day and make up their required hours during the rest of the week).
Once time is accrued, employees can apply to take accrued hours as either a full or part day's leave, depending on how many hours they have accrued, and provided business requirements are met.
Complying with your industrial award
Make sure that any accrued time arrangement complies with the relevant industrial award or agreement that covers your business.
Read about hours of work on the Fair Work Ombudsman website.
For employers, the benefits of allowing flexible working hours include:
- attracting a more diverse range of workers
- the opportunity to extend your hours of operation when required
- improved scheduling for peak workload by overlapping employees' schedules
- a low-cost employee benefit, which can help retain staff
- more efficient use of workplace facilities or equipment (through increased spread of hours in which they are used).
Requests for flexible working arrangements under the Fair Work Act have to:
- be in writing
- explain what changes are being asked for
- explain the reasons for the request.
Find out more about your employees' right to request flexible working arrangements.
Timesheets require employees to log how much time they work each day (and how much time they take for lunch and other breaks). Timesheets are an important tool for monitoring work hours, especially for employees on flexible working hours. However, there must also be trust between you and your employees.
Learn more about your record keeping obligations on the Fair Work Ombudsman website.
Example weekly staff work schedule
You can use a weekly staff work schedule to clearly communicate when staff will be in the office, working from home (telecommuting), or taking a day off.
Display the wall chart in a central location so everyone can see the information. Below is an example work schedule.
|Team member||Monday||Tuesday||Wednesday Staff meeting 10-11am||Thursday||Friday|
|Staff member A||8.30am - 5pm||8.30am - 4.45pm||8.30am - 4.45pm||Working from home 8.30am - 4pm||8.30am - 12.30pm|
|Staff member B||All day||All day||All day||All day||All day|
|Staff member C||8am - 5pm||8am - 5pm||8am - 5pm||8am - 5pm||8am - 5pm|
|Staff member D||8.15am - 5pm||Working from home 9am - 5pm||9am - 5pm||Day off||9am - 5pm|
|Staff member E||9am - 5pm||9am -5pm||9am - 11am||9am - 5pm||9am - 5pm|
|Staff member F||Day off||8.30am - 4.15pm||9am - 4.30pm||9am - 5.30pm||Day off|
- Learn more about employer obligations for flexible working arrangements, including industrial relations laws.
- Find out about managing flexible working arrangements in your business.
- Read about your rights and obligations under flexible working arrangements.