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Employers more accountable for decisions about flexible work arrangements

A new model term dealing with how an employee’s request for flexible working arrangements must be dealt with will be inserted into all modern awards from 1 December 2018.

The model term applies to a request by an employee for a change in working arrangements under section 65 of the Fair Work Act 2009 (“the Act”). The Act provides that an employer can only refuse a request on ‘reasonable business grounds’.

The model term includes provision about how the request must be dealt with and includes:

  • A requirement to discuss the request with the employee and to genuinely try to reach agreement before the employer responds to the request having regard to:

    (a) the needs of the employee arising from their circumstances;

    (b) the consequences for the employee if changes in working arrangements are not made; and

    (c) any reasonable business grounds for refusing the request.

  • A requirement that, if no agreement is reached and the request is refused, the employer is to provide detailed reasons for the refusal,
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Modern Awards are an important part of the Australian employment law landscape. Modern Awards were introduced in 2010 and there are currently 122 Modern Awards covering a wide range of industries and occupations. An Award basically sets out minimum standards including base rates of pay, other entitlements and conditions of work.

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With the commencement of Modern Awards on 1 January 2010 there were a number of applications made by certain employer groups seeking amendment to the General Retail Award, 2010 which were subsequently determined by Fair Work Australia.

In a full bench decision of FWA last week, the applications were determined resulting in a number of changes to the Award which we briefly summarise in this document: Blandslaw retail changes.

In addition to the well-publicised anti-bullying measures introduced on 1 January 2014, there are several other changes to the Fair Work Act 2009 that also came into effect on 1 January and have implications for employers.

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On 1 January 2010 the modern award system provided for in the Fair Work Act 2009 will come into effect. It is possible that awards will cover employees who were previously regarded as ‘award free’, even though this was not the stated intention of the modern award process. Employers will need to determine which employees will be covered by which modern awards or face exposure to penalties of up to $33,000 per breach. Click here to read more

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