Employer obligations for flexible working arrangements

You have obligations under industrial relations and anti-discrimination legislation when considering an employee's request for flexible working arrangements.

If you are unsure about your obligations and rights, visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website to help you meet the requirements of the award or agreement that covers your business.

Industrial relations laws

Your business must comply with the Australian Government's Fair Work Act 2009 (Cwlth), which covers a range of flexible working arrangements. It also covers special leave requirements such as carer's leave, parental leave and bereavement leave (as known as compassionate leave).

Right to request flexible working arrangements

Employees (other than casual workers) who have worked with the same employer for at least 12 months can request flexible working arrangements if they:

  • are the parent, or have responsibility for the care, of a child who is school aged or younger
  • are a carer (under the Carer Recognition Act 2010)
  • are 55 years of age or older
  • are experiencing family or domestic violence
  • provide care or support to a member of their household or immediate family who requires care and support because of family or domestic violence.

An employer may only refuse the flexible working arrangements request on 'reasonable business grounds'.

Learn more about your employees' right to request flexible working arrangements.

Anti-discrimination laws

When assessing your employees' requests for flexible working arrangements, you must make sure that they are not unfairly disadvantaged by their personal circumstances.

The Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 promotes equal opportunity for everyone by protecting them from discrimination, and includes family responsibilities as a ground for discrimination.

Handling requests for flexible working arrangements

You should consider all requests for flexible working arrangements carefully.

The National Employment Standards (NES) entitle certain employees to ask for flexible working arrangements to help them with their personal circumstances.

Denying flexible working arrangements

Before denying an application for flexible working arrangements, make sure you have met your obligations under relevant legislation. Find out more about accepting or refusing a request for a flexible working arrangement.

If you decide to deny a request for flexible working arrangements, make sure you are able to clearly explain why. Check the examples provided on the Fair Work Ombudsman website. It's also important to be consistent with your decisions so your employees can see that there is a fair and transparent process in place.

Also consider...