Aussie bosses can’t simply say no to this
Millions of Australian workers will be affected by a new change that is set to revolutionise the workplace.
The Fair Work Commission has announced a new change to flexible work arrangements for workers across all industries.
In a judgment handed down yesterday, the Commission stated that from December 1, 2018, an employer may only refuse an employees' request for a change in their work arrangements based on "reasonable business grounds".
"Before responding to a request, the employer must discuss it with the employee and genuinely try to reach agreement on a change in working arrangements that will reasonably accommodate the employee's circumstances."
Employers must also now consider:
(a) the needs of the employee arising from their circumstances;
(b) the consequences for the employee if changes in working arrangements are not made; and
(c) any reasonable business grounds for refusing the request.
The Commission stated that employers must give an employee a written response to their request within 21 days, stating whether they are granting or refusing the request.
If the employer refuses the request, the written response must include details of the reasons for the refusal, and how it applies.
It must also state whether or not there are any changes in working arrangements that the employer can offer their employee so as to better accommodate their circumstances and if the employer can offer other changes in working arrangements.
However, if the employer and their employee do reach a new agreement, the employer must then provide their employee with a written response to their request setting out the agreed changes.
"We confirm our provisional view and will vary all modern awards to include the model term. The clause will come into effect on 1 December 2018," the judgment stated.
The new change to flexible working arrangements comes after Federal Minister for Women Kelly O'Dwyer announced new "game-changing" reform to paid parental leave, allowing primary carers to be in control of how they take some of their leave.
Workplace specialist firm Employsure's Senior Employment Relations Adviser Michael Wilkinson told News Corp Australia that workers don't have an "uninhibited right to their flexible work request", but the new clause means employers must detail any alternative arrangements they can provide.
"Your boss can't simply say no; your employer needs to attempt to find alternative arrangements such as covering one of those days as requested," he said.
It also lets workers dispute whether employers have correctly followed the process.
"Let's say you approach your boss with a request to work from home two days per week," he said.
"Your boss can refuse your request however, they need to justify the reasonable business grounds, then state whether alternative options or a counteroffer is available.
"It is quite common for employers to reject flexible request because it is simply too costly to implement because of things like the cost of equipment and lost productivity including the potential that the job simply cannot be done effectively from home.
"If an employee asks his or her boss to leave early twice a week for family commitments, employers need to consider how they will fill the gap. Is it necessary to fill the gap?
"Will significant change be required for the gap? If the gap needs to be filled, how much will it cost the business to fill such as advertising and training?".
Mr Wilkinson also said that after Ms O'Dwyer announced the Coalition's proposed policies offering parents flexibility in how they access their paid parental leave, the Commission's changes were consistent with evolving community expectations which demand greater flexibility to achieve work life balance and gender equality.