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WFH, Flexible Arrangements & Your Employer’s Legal Obligations

Flexible working arrangements may seem like a natural progression in the business world amidst the changed norms of office and remote work, but knowing when you have the right to request flexible working arrangements can be tricky.

What Are Flexible Working Arrangements? 

Simply put, flexible work arrangements are alternate arrangements or schedules from the traditional working day and week. Employees may choose a different work schedule to meet personal or family needs. Alternatively, employers may initiate various schedules to meet their customer’s needs.

Some employees who have worked for the same employer for at least 12 months can request flexible working arrangements, such as changes to hours, patterns or locations of work.

Employees covered by an award also have some extra rights when asking for flexible working arrangements.

Examples of flexible working arrangements include changes to:

  • hours of work (for example, changes to start and finish times)
  • patterns of work (for example, split shifts or job sharing)
  • locations of work (for example, 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.

Casual employees can make a request if:

  • they’ve been working for the same employer regularly and systematically for at least 12 months
  • there’s a reasonable expectation of continuing work with the employer regularly and systematically.

How Do Employees Request Flexible Working Arrangements?

Requests for flexible working arrangements have to:

  • be in writing
  • explain what changes are being asked for
  • explain the reasons for the requested change.

Employers covered by an award must first discuss the request with their employee to try to reach an agreement about changes to the employee’s working conditions, taking into consideration:

  • the needs of the employee
  • consequences for the employee if changes in working arrangements aren’t made
  • any reasonable business grounds for refusing the employee’s request.

All employers receiving a request must provide a written response within 21 days, outlining whether the request is approved or refused.

Employers can only refuse a request on reasonable business grounds. If a request is refused the written response must include the reasons for the refusal.

Reasonable business grounds can include:

  • the requested arrangements are too costly
  • other employees’ working arrangements can’t be changed to accommodate the request
  • it’s impractical to change other employees’ working arrangements or hire new employees to accommodate the request
  • the request would result in a significant loss of productivity or negatively impact customer service.

If you’re someone who often finds it difficult to make large lump sum payments for goods or services, you may want to consider looking into “Buy Now Pay Later” services.

Buy now pay later essentially means that, rather than paying in a full lump sum payment for a product or services rendered, there may be an option to pay through instalments of a certain amount over a set period to make the sum of the full amount in total. This method should allow you to pay in full for the product or service without overly straining your finances – you pay back what you can, as agreed upon when you begin the buy now pay later service.

Some popular buy now pay later services include Afterpay, Zip Pay, Brightepay, and some credit card networks such as  Mastercard and Visa, can offer buy now pay later arrangements.

Though it can be a convenient, immediate solution, it may be challenging to juggle the necessary repayments with other financial commitments. It’s not always the most appropriate method for people, and you should bear in mind your situation and ability in paying back the amounts. 

Before you sign up, keep in mind: 

  • It becomes easier to overspend with buy now pay later services, so know your limits on what you can and can’t afford.
  • You will be charged fees and costs to use the service, which can add up to a princely sum in and of itself.
  • Keeping track of your payments can be tricky if you’ve signed up for multiple services.
  • It could affect your loan applications for a car or mortgage as lenders consider buy now pay later spending just as much as your credit score.
  • Late repayments can appear on your credit report, which affects your ability to borrow money in the future.
  • Layby can be a cheaper alternative to buy now pay later, with no account-keeping or late fees to consider

If you are someone who could make use of BNPL services, you may wish to:

  • Ensure that when using the BNPL service, you stick to a set limit on what you spend so that you can comfortably pay it back later. 
  • Aim only to have one BNPL account at a time to manage payments through, rather than confuse yourself with multiple payments across different providers.
  • Always budget for bills, loan payments and BNPL payments, and 
  • Rather than use your credit card for payments to your BNPL account, consider linking to your debit account instead.

If you would like assistance in planning your financial future, help in managing your budget or some friendly advice, see us for a chat about what we can do for you.

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John Briggs

Jane Noller has been my accountant for the last 15 plus years. I can testify to Jane’s professionalism and expeditious manner in dealing with the day to day issues that surrounds our business accounting.

John Briggs

Registered Building Certifier