Research by the Diversity Council of Australia found there is significant evidence that flexible work optimises resources and productivity. Therefore flexible work arrangements have the potential to benefit employers, employees and their families.
Flexible work arrangements can offer employers greater potential for:
- attracting better employees;
- retaining current employees for longer;
- providing greater accessibility to customers by being open for more hours per day;
- better cooperation, efficiency and productivity from staff who feel supported.
National Employment Standards obligations
Although the implementation of flexible work arrangements in most cases will be determined through negotiation between an employer and employee, employers do have legal obligations to parents and carers under the National Employment Standards.
Under these standards, an employee who has worked with the same employer for at least 12 months can request flexible working arrangements if they:
- are the parent or carer of a child who is school aged or younger
- are a carer
- have a an impairment
- are 55 or older.
An employee can request flexible work arrangements to assist them with these circumstances.
Flexible work arrangements may not suit every business or every situation. If this is the case and flexible arrangements cannot be accommodated, employers should be clear about the reasons for this when advising employees.
When considering flexible work arrangements, employers should assess each request on its merits and in the context of operational and business requirements. Granting one individual a flexible work arrangement does not mean that all requests will be granted, but employers should be fair and equitable when managing such requests.
Flexible work requests may include arrangements around starting and finishing times, condensed work hours, organisation of work tasks, working from home or other changes to the work environment. Flexible work arrangements may be temporary or ongoing.
Injured and ill employees
In Queensland it is unlawful to treat a worker less favourably because of a physical or mental illness or condition, or to make a requirement that is more difficult for the person because of an illness or condition.
- For more information on managing injured or ill employees, refer to the Incapacity and work fact sheet.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 it is unlawful for employers to discriminate against a woman because she is:
- presumed to be pregnant or intending to become pregnant;
- breastfeeding or expressing milk.
Employers should consider making all reasonable adjustments to the workplace to accommodate the normal effects of pregnancy. Communication with employees throughout the period of their pregnancy and return to work is vital to ensure that the needs of both the employee and employer can be met.
If a woman is breastfeeding or expressing milk when she returns to work after giving birth, employers should consult with the employee about the possibility of making reasonable accommodations to the work environment. This may include altering break times or providing a designated area to breastfeed and express milk if this is viable.
When an employee returns to work following maternity leave, she is generally entitled to return to the position she held prior to commencing leave. If that position has ceased to exist in her absence, a comparable position should be offered to the employee.It is important for employers to keep employees on maternity leave up to date with any significant organisational changes that may occur in their absence.