The term ‘Flexible Work Arrangements’ has become a bit of a buzz phrase in the media, particularly since COVID-19 restrictions came into play. But, did you know that on many occasions, this term has actually been used incorrectly? Understandably, this has resulted in causing some confusion amongst organisations.
To clarify, Senior HR Consultant, Sharon Olsson says using the term “Flexible Work Policy” to refer to all employees who work from home, without taking Fair Work’s Flexible arrangement legislation into account, is incorrect. “This situation is actually a Changing Work Arrangement, not a Flexible Work Arrangement.”
It is important to understand the difference between the Flexible Work Arrangements and Working from Home policies. According to the Fair Work Commission, Flexible Work Arrangements mean in certain circumstances staff have the right to request a flexible arrangement after at least 12 months with the same employer. These situations include where employees:
- are the parent, or have responsibility for the care of a child who is school aged or younger
- are a carer (under the Carer Recognition Act 2010)
- have a disability
- are 55 or older
- are experiencing family or domestic violence, or
- provide care or support to a member of their household or immediate family who requires care and support because of family or domestic violence.
Sharon says it is important for companies to review and where necessary, update both their Flexible Working policy as well as their Working from Home policy to work together with each other. “Especially where there are specific legislative details to consider for Flexible Work Arrangements.”
How does this affect employment contracts?
These only have to change if there is a change in hours not environment, because organisations usually include a clause to allow for alternative locations.
“If hours change, or days change, such as five days to four days, the contract needs to be altered to reflect this.
“The exception to this are part-time employees, where contracts specify hours and days. Even if the hours remain the same, changes to the days worked must be reflected so they are accounted for. However, anyone working from home must complete a Working from Home checklist to ensure the company is satisfied the environment is fit for purpose.” Sharon says.
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