Flexibility in the workplace
In Australia, the right to request flexible working arrangements are provided for in legislation under in the National Employment Standards (NES). These standards provide that certain categories of employees are able to make requests of their employer to work in a flexible manner. Employers are only able to refuse a request on reasonable business grounds.
For more information on Flexible Work Requests under the National Employment Standards, please see our Guideline: Flexible work requests under the National Employment Standards and Checklist: Considering and responding to flexible work requests below.
Strategic Workforce Flexibility
Beyond legal compliance under the NES, many organisations are embracing flexibility and work / life balance initiatives as strategic imperatives to unlock employee potential and improve engagement, retention, productivity and quality of output. These organisations have moved away from the "reactive" approach to flexibility whereby an employer attempts to accommodate flexible work requests by their employees (because they have to consider it under the NES) without any formal planning, strategy or policies and procedures to support these practices. It is recognised that for flexibility to work, there needs to be a cultural shift which starts from the top. In order to reap the rewards that flexibility can provide, managers will need to be retrained in managing a workforce (or parts of their workforce) that may not be in the physical office 100% of the time, be skilled in identify the jobs that are suitable for flexible work and ensure traditional workers also remain engaged and connected to their team that work flexibly. Manage outputs, meetings etc.
The following resources provide an overview of both the NES entitlement to flexibility and strategic flexibility:
Policies and Procedures