Flexible Working Arrangements

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Flexible Working Arrangements

The National Employment Standards (NES) which came into force on 1 January 2010 allows an employee to request flexible working arrangements which are more suitable to their circumstances.

Who can request a flexible working arrangement?

Every fulltime or part-time employee and every employer may request the other to enter into a flexible working arrangement. A casual employee is entitled to make a request if they have been employed (regularly and systematically) for at least 12 months, and they expect to continue regular and systematic employment.

What are flexible working arrangements?

Examples of flexible working arrangements can include:

  • Changes in hours worked (for example, starting and finishing early or working more hours on Monday and less on Tuesday);
  • Changes in days worked (for example, Wednesday to Sunday rather than Monday to Friday);
  • Changes in the work patterns (for example, split shifts)
  • Changes in workplace location (for example, working from home or at a closer branch).


Pre-existing entitlements

The Fair Work Act 2009 provides that existing State and Territory laws can continue to apply to employees if their flexible working provisions are more beneficial to the employee than the NES provisions.

The request process

The NES sets out the process for making this request.

  • The request must be made by the employee in writing to the employer;
  • The request must set out details of the requested change and reasons for it;
  • The employer has 21 days after receiving the request to respond to the employee in writing;

Not responding to a request is a contravention of the Fair Work Act 2009.

Can I refuse a request?

The NES provides that an employer may refuse a request for flexible working arrangements, but only on ‘reasonable business grounds’. The refusal must state the grounds on which the request has been refused.

The NES contains the following examples of what would constitute a reasonable business ground:

  • The effect on the workplace and the employer‘s business of approving the request, including the financial impact of doing so and the impact on efficiency, productivity and customer service;
  • The inability to organise work among existing staff;
  • The inability to recruit a replacement employee or the practicality or otherwise of the arrangements that may need to be put in place to accommodate the employee‘s request.

Instead of refusing a request in full, an employer may wish to negotiate a flexible working arrangement that meets both parties needs.

Dispute resolution

If an employee disagrees with an employer’s written refusal for flexible working arrangements, Fair Work Australia may provide a dispute resolution service.


The flexible working arrangements provision is designed to promote workplace harmony, rather than hinder business productivity. It is therefore suggested that employers consider these requests seriously and have procedures in place to deal with such requests.

If you have any queries or require any advice in relation to flexible working arrangements, or any other employment law matter please contact Tony Pattinson at Ferguson Cannon Lawyers.

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Category: Employment Law, Fact Finders, General

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