FWC Update – What do Requests for Flexible Work changes mean for you?
This week, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) flagged their plans to make changes to minimum employment period for Casual employees requesting flexible work arrangements, as well as the required documentation for employer responses to all flexible work arrangements. So what does this mean for your business? Find out more …
You might have read in the news this week that the Fair Work Commission (FWC) has been considering applications relating to flexible work for parents and carers. Whilst access to flexible work is available as part of the National Employment Standards (NES), the FWC has provisionally indicated it intends to publish a model award clause that will extend the right to request flexible work to casuals with a minimum of six months service. The model clause is also expected to indicate that employers must provide more explanation to employees if refusing requests for flexible work.
What do I need to know?
No changes have taken place as yet however the FWC has clearly stated their intention to extend the offer of flexible work options to long-term (6 months’ tenure or longer) casual employees in the case of carer’s responsibilities. Currently, casual employees need to be employed on a ‘regular and systematic basis’ for at least 12 months, and have the reasonable expectation of ongoing employment, to access to flexible work options.
Refusing a Request for Flexible Work
The FWC has also made clear it’s intention to provide more guidance regarding employer’s responses to requests for flexible working options. The FWC believes that refusals of flexible work requests should be explored through conference and negotiation and where agreement can’t be reached, those agreements and discussions should be explained in more detail to the employee. Whilst employers are currently required to respond in writing to such requests, there is little guidance as to how much information regarding the decision should be included in that response and the FWC seeks to provide this guidance through this proposed model clause.
The “provisional” model clause currently being discussed by the full bench proposes to:
- extend flexible work eligibility to “ongoing” and casual employees with six months’ of service and above;
- Advise employers to confer and negotiate with employees making a flexible working request to genuinely attempt an agreement between both parties, prior to considering refusing any such request;
- Ensure written responses from employers refusing requests include “a more comprehensive explanation of the reasons”.
How does this affect me?
- As an employer, you must continue to deal with requests for flexible working arrangements as per the NES, including responding formally in writing to any valid request within 21 days advising if the request is approved or refused.
- In anticipation of the changes indicated, consider including more detail in any future responses to flexible working requests to ensure that if refused, the decision is based on solid business grounds. This is best practice in any case so changing your approach ahead of any official changes can only be a positive thing!
- It’s also good practice to continue to review your rostering arrangements for your casual employees so that you can minimise casuals being considered ‘regular and systematic’ casual employees and ensure you engage employees on a truly casual, unpredictable nature. This might be different hours, days of work or start and finish times. As always, make sure that you are complying with the Award, in how much notice you need to give for your rosters!
What do I need to do?
The FWC are proposing 1st May 2018 to present their model clause. Watch this space for updates from your Seed People Consultants regarding any changes required! If you need to know more, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 02 4967 6695.