Australia – New employer obligations when considering flexible work arrangements

What’s new?

From 6 June 2023 employers will have new obligations before they can refuse a request from an employee who is eligible for a flexible working arrangement. Eligible employees include, amongst others, those with school-aged children, those facing domestic violence and those with a disability.

For an employer to refuse such a request, they must demonstrate that they have: (i) discussed the request with the employee; (ii) made a genuine attempt to reach an agreement with the employee; and (iii) considered the consequences of refusing the employee’s request.

The employer will also be obliged to inform the employee in writing of:

  • The reasonable business ground(s) on which the refusal was based and how the business ground(s) applies;
  • Changes that the employer would accommodate or that there are no such changes; and
  • Information surrounding other options available to the employee, including referring the matter to the Fair Work Commission.

The Fair Work Commission will have the power to mediate or require employers to grant such a request. They may also require the employer to find an alternative arrangement to accommodate the employee’s circumstances.

What should employers do now?

Employers should take preparatory steps to ensure that they are ready for implementation of the new rules including reviewing flexible work policies and practices to ensure that they are compliant.

Please get in touch with a member of the MDR ONE team if you have any questions about this or require any support with updating documentation to reflect the new rules.

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