Australian employers must justify flexible work refusals
Employers in Australia will now be required to justify their refusals of flexible working requests by employees.
A clause has been added to the country’s Fair Work Commission, entailing that employers discuss any requests for flexible working arrangements with employees.
Consideration must be given to the employee’s needs and circumstances, and there must be “reasonable business grounds” in order to refuse the request.
Even if a flexible work agreement is not agreed upon, the employer is obliged to work with the employee to explore potential alternatives.
The new clause will apply to employees who have been with a company for more than 12 months.
Under the countries National Employment Standards, employees who are parents or caregivers, have disabilities, or are older than 55, are eligible to make requests for flexible working arrangements.
“People should be able to advance their careers and care for their families, and if employers are unwilling to consider reasonable requests for altered hours to accommodate a caring responsibility then workers should be able to challenge that decision,” said Sally McManus, secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions.
“Every day thousands of employees would successfully agree their working time with their employers, without any mandatory right to request coming into play,” said James Pearson, CEO of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, criticising the decision.