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New flexible work ruling comes into force

From Saturday, 1 December 2018, new rules governing flexible working arrangements come into force, with employers no longer able to deny reasonable requests without just cause. The change was made by the Fair Work Commission as part of its four-yearly review of modern awards.  Under the amendment, “An employer may only refuse a s.65 request for a change in working arrangements on ‘reasonable business grounds”.  In its judgement, the commission stated that: “Before responding to a request made under s.65 [of the Fair Work Act], the employer must discuss the request with the employee and genuinely try to reach agreement on a change in working arrangements that will reasonably accommodate the employee’s circumstances having regard to:
  • the needs of the employee arising from their circumstances;
  • the consequences for the employee if changes in working arrangements are not made; and
  • any reasonable business grounds for refusing the request.
“The employer must give the employee a written response to an employee’s s.65 request within 21 days, stating whether the employer grants or refuses the request. “If the employer refuses the request, the written response must include details of the reasons for the refusal.”

Flexibility not guaranteed

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