I want to start this one by saying, I don’t pretend to be any kind of employment law expert and I can’t provide specific employment law advice.
In the interests of full disclosure, I didn’t even do a subject on HR/IR/Employment law at university – from what I can remember.
Yes, I’m a family lawyer. However funnily enough there are many different areas of law that are relevant to my work as a family lawyer and while I don’t know all the areas intimately, I like to keep up to date with as much as I can so I can provide useful information.
Besides – as you’ll see, this is very useful information that may really assist you navigate your separation and decisions regarding parenting arrangements for your children.
So – now that we all know, and understand I’m not an employment law expert of any kind, and you all agree and acknowledge that I’m not providing any formal legal advice in this post, I can tell you this:
On 1 December 2018, some very important and valuable rules were introduced about making requests for flexible work arrangements.
For the purpose of this article, I’m talking very briefly about how it applies to parents, but if you follow the link below, you’ll see it also applies to a variety of other employees.
The important thing is that to be eligible to make a request, you need to have worked with the same employer for over 12 months.
If you are a parent of children who are school aged, or younger, and you have parenting responsibilities and need some flexibility with your work arrangements, keep reading.
Maybe you are a parent who has recently separated.
Perhaps you are trying to work out how you are going to juggle your single-parent life and work responsibilities in your new shared care arrangement (because you know, you haven’t always needed to be the one to do drop off or pick up or extra-curricular stuff, but now you do, at least some of the time).
You may like to know there have been some recent changes to the law about flexible work arrangements: https://www.fairwork.gov.au/employee-entitlements/flexibility-in-the-workplace/flexible-working-arrangements
The changes are new.
And they don’t only apply to parents.
And they aren’t gender specific.
The changes are not gender specific (yes, I said that twice. Deliberately).
This is what the Fair Work website says:
What are flexible working arrangements?
Examples of flexible working arrangements include changes to:
- hours of work (eg. changes to start and finish times)
- patterns of work (eg. split shifts or job sharing)
- locations of work (eg. working from home).
Who can request flexible working arrangements?
Employees (other than a casual employee) who have worked with the same employer for at least 12 months can request flexible working arrangements if they:
- 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
The website also sets out how to find out if these arrangements apply to you, how to request flexible work arrangements and what employers should do once they receive a request.
Not everyone has had a chance to catch up to the changes yet, but they are really valuable to many families and really important.
If you’re not sure whether the changes apply to you, or if you’re eligible to make a request for a flexible work arrangement – read as much as you can in the link, and take advice from someone who is an expert in the field – there are quite a few around.
If this is something you will find beneficial, read as much as you can and speak to someone who is an actual expert in employment law – whether that’s a lawyer or someone at the Office of the Fair Work Ombudsman, or Fair Work Commission.
Don’t be afraid to start a conversation with your employer requesting flexible work arrangements (obviously first you’re going to make sure these changes apply to you!).