Written by: Brett Lyndon – The Pro Forum Community of Practice

The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) provides the following information regarding Flexible working arrangements.


Flexible working arrangements

Employers and employees can agree to change standard working arrangements to help employees balance work with other aspects of their lives.

Flexibility comes in many forms, and different arrangements will suit different workplaces, jobs and workers. Common examples of flexible working arrangements include:

  • flexible start and finish times
  • compressed hours (working more hours over fewer days)
  • part-time work
  • casual work
  • job sharing
  • flexible rostering
  • working from home or another location
  • ‘purchasing’ extra paid leave
  • unpaid leave
  • taking rostered days off as 2 half days
  • time off in lieu
  • flexitime (allowing employees to ‘bank’ extra hours which are then exchanged for time off)
  • gradual increase or decrease in work hours (for example, after parental leave, or as an employee transitions to retirement).


Legal requirements

Anyone can request flexibility – but certain employees have a legal entitlement to request flexible working arrangements under the Fair Work Act. Employees who have this legal entitlement include permanent employees who have worked with the employer for at least 12 months and regular casual employees who have worked with the employer for at least 12 months and have a reasonable expectation of continuing employment on a regular and systematic basis. Also, the request must be because the employee is:

  • a parent of, or have responsibility for the care of, a child who is school age or younger
  • a carer (within the meaning of the Carer Recognition Act 2010)
  • a person with disability
  • aged 55 or older
  • experiencing family violence, or
  • providing care or support to a family member, or someone they live with, who is experiencing family violence.

If a state or territory law gives an employee a better entitlement to flexible working arrangements, then that state or territory law still applies.


Refusing a request

Employers can only refuse a request for a flexible working arrangement from an employee who is entitled to make the request under the Fair Work Act on reasonable business grounds. Reasonable business grounds for refusing a request could include:

  • cost – the requested arrangements would be too costly for the employer
  • capacity – there’s no capacity to change the working arrangements of other employees to accommodate the request
  • practicality – it would be impractical to change the working arrangements of other employees, or take on new employees, to accommodate the request
  • inefficiency or impact – the requested arrangement is likely to result in significant loss of efficiency or productivity. The request may also have a significant negative impact on customer service.

The information in above is a summary of information provided by the FWO and can be found here.

Resources provided by the FWO to help manage flexible working arrangements include:

Online training on workplace flexibility

Other tools, resources and templates

Federal legislation on flexible working arrangements can be found in the Fair Work Act 2009, Chapter 2—Terms and conditions of employment, Part 2 2—The National Employment Standards, Division 4—Requests for flexible working arrangements here.


NOTE: The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter, and specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances. The content must not be relied upon as legal, technical, financial or other professional advice.