Assessing a proposal for flexible working arrangements

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.

When assessing proposals for flexible working arrangements, it's important to be consistent and follow a set process. This will help you achieve the best outcome for your business and your employees.

The steps below can help you streamline and formalise this process. If your business employs only a few staff, you may want to simplify and personalise these steps.

Step 1 – Ask the employee to write a proposal

If an employee wants to work flexibly, ask them to write a proposal. This can be as simple as them sending you an email. It should include details of the arrangement request, reasons for the change, and any potential issues they have identified (e.g. needing remote access if they plan to work from home).

Step 2 – Assess the proposal: does it suit their role and your business?

When assessing their proposal, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is the role suited to this kind of arrangement?
  • Does the employee need to be in the workplace at all times?
  • How will this arrangement affect the rest of my team and my business as a whole?

Assessing a job share proposal

Job sharing arrangements often involve extra thought and planning. When assessing a proposal for job sharing, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Can the work be divided?
  • Will employees be jointly responsible for all aspects of the job, be assigned specific areas of the position, or have a mix of some joint and some specific responsibilities?
  • How will time be split between job sharers? What days and hours would each job sharer work?
  • Will service quality be affected by a job share arrangement?
  • Will the arrangement take advantage of employees' individual strengths?
  • Will it be easy to determine outcomes and objectives for each employee?
  • How will employees in the job sharing arrangement communicate effectively? What handover methods will be used?
  • What happens if one employee leaves?

Step 3 – Meet with the employee to discuss their request

Have a face-to-face discussion with the employee about their request. This will give you a chance to raise any issues with them. It will also give your employee the chance to add any details they left out of their proposal (e.g. personal reasons they didn’t want to put in writing).

Negotiate the flexible working arrangement

When negotiating a flexible working arrangement with an employee, make sure the process is transparent. Make the employee aware of all the factors that will influence your decision, including:

  • their reasons for requesting the arrangement (e.g. personal circumstances)
  • how the proposed arrangement would affect your business and the rest of your team.

Read more about negotiating successfully.

Step 4 – Communicate your decision

If you are happy to approve an employee's request for flexible working arrangements, you can do so in your face-to-face meeting. However, if you need more time to think about it, give the employee a time frame for when you will let them know your decision.

Approving or denying the request

Once you've made a decision to approve or deny your employee's request for flexible working arrangements, it's important to clearly communicate this with them and explain why you have reached the decision. You should also clarify, if you have approved the request, whether it will be a temporary arrangement with a trial period, or a permanent arrangement. Negotiate the start and finish dates for the temporary period and keep a written record of these dates.

Find out more about accepting or refusing a request for a flexible working arrangement.

Share your decision with your team

If you approve a flexible working arrangement you should communicate this with the rest of your team and explain how it may impact them. For the employee’s arrangement to be successful, support from colleagues is also important.

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