Trudy, an accountant with a family run business in Melbourne had long been asking her employer for more flexibility in her working arrangements. A single mother with school aged children, she wanted a later start to drop the kids at school, and the ability to work her remaining two hours from home after school pick up.
Trudy argued that COVID had shown that her work could be done remotely, and that the changes would make a huge difference to how she would be able to balance her work and her parenting responsibilities.
Her employer rejected Trudy’s proposal, saying the company had never offered flexibility before and that allowing the changes would be the ‘thin edge of the wedge’ that would lead to ‘total chaos’.
We know that flexible work arrangements greatly impact a single mother’s ability to participate in paid employment. We also know that the benefits of offering flexible work options to employers can be measured in real terms.
So what are the rights and responsibilities of employees and employers when it comes to flexible work arrangements? We take a deep dive.
Who can request flexible working arrangements?
According to Fair Work Australia, full-time and part-time employees can request flexible work arrangements if they’ve worked with the same employer for at least 12 months and they:
- are the parent, or have responsibility for the care, of a child who is school aged or younger
- are a carer
- have a disability
- are 55 or older
- are pregnant
- are experiencing family and domestic violence, or
- provide care or support to an immediate family or household member who is experiencing family and domestic violence.
Casual employees can request flexible work arrangements if they meet the same critera, they’ve been working for the same employer regularly for at least 12 months, and there’s a reasonable expectation of continuing this work.
How to request flexible working arrangements
Fair Work Australia says that it’s best to apply for flexible work arrangements in writing, end even provides a free templates and sample letters to prepare.
Once they receive the request, employers need to respond in writing within 21 days saying whether the request is approved or refused, and if it is refused, stating the reasons why – and there are rules around that.
Refusal can only be made if the requested arrangements will be too costly, or that other employees’ working arrangements can’t be changed to accommodate the request.
Careers & employment guidance for single mothers
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Bloom is CSMC’s FREE career, study and wellbeing program, designed especially for single mothers, by single mothers. Bloom has now launched in Shepparton. Join alone or with another single mum. It‘s free and it’s flexible. Starts Third Term – July 10 2023.