Flexible working arrangements and workplace adjustments
Staff can choose to arrange flexible working arrangements through any of the following:
For people with disability, a flexible work arrangement may be a type of workplace adjustment. In this case, the request must be managed through the workplace adjustment process.
Although the range of flexible work arrangement options may differ based on particular roles and areas of working, the major flexible work arrangements available to teaching staff are part-time, job share and some flexible start and finish arrangements. For non-teaching staff in schools, the range of flexible work options may include part-time, job share, flexible start and finish times, compressed work week, working from home and purchased leave.
The department is obligated under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) to consider and respond to written requests for flexible work arrangements made by certain staff, including employees with a disability and carers (within the meaning of the Carer’s Recognition Act 2010 (Cth)).
While a request for flexible work as a workplace adjustment must be managed through the workplace adjustment process, there are requirements under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) that must still be met when a relevant person requests flexible work. This includes:
- responding in writing within 21 days of receiving a request
- that a principal can only refuse a request on reasonable business grounds and if they have:
- discussed the request with the staff member and genuinely tried to reach an agreement on alternative arrangements to accommodate the staff member’s circumstances
- considered the consequences for refusing the staff member’s request.
Reasonable business grounds for refusal include, but are not limited to:
- the new arrangements would be too costly
- there is no capacity to change the working arrangements of other staff members to accommodate the new arrangement
- it would be impractical to change the working arrangements of other staff members or recruit new staff members to accommodate the new arrangement
- the new arrangement requested would result in a significant loss in efficiency or productivity
- the new working arrangements requested would likely have a negative impact on customer service.
Principals must consider the consequences of refusal on the staff member and propose other changes (in writing) that the department (as employer) can make to accommodate the staff members workplace adjustment needs.
If the principal determines that there are reasonable business grounds to refuse the request, this decision must be communicated in writing and include detailed information about the reasonable business grounds (for example, the cost of implementing flexible work arrangement).
Under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) flexible work disputes can be referred to the Fair Work Commission – this is in addition to the power of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission to hear complaints under Victorian legislation. All staff can also make complaints about flexible work decisions through the department’s internal complaints process.
Reviewed 18 August 2023