How do I deal with requests for flexibility?

When an individual makes a request for flexible working arrangements:

  • discuss the proposed arrangement in detail as soon as possible - having a written outline of the request can help
  • consider the impact of the arrangement on the business in terms of staffing, technical operations, output, occupational health and safety and any other factors affected by a change to existing arrangements
  • look at the range of arrangements available and identify those that will suit the needs of the employee and the business
  • implement the best option for the person requesting flexibility and other staff
  • for minimum entitlements under the state industrial relations system refer to the SafeWork SA website. If you are covered by the new national industrial relations system please refer to the Fair Work Ombudsman or National Employment Standards
  • consider implementation on a trial basis
  • advise staff of new arrangements
  • review and refine with the employee and other staff if necessary.


Start small

If you're unable to implement a full range of flexible arrangements at your workplace immediately you can still make a difference by introducing some simple measures to make the workplace more flexible. Here are some ideas to consider:

  • ensure staff meetings are held between 10am and 3pm. This will allow workers with personal obligations to attend meetings
  • establish a policy for acceptable amount of time to attend to personal phone and email traffic. It is inevitable that sometimes family and social obligations need to be addressed during work hours. Being upfront about your expectations and outlining clear boundaries shows that you are a flexible employer and can avoid employee abuse of this privilege
  • allowing an employee to take their sick child or dependent to a doctor's appointment, then make up time later, may avoid the need to pay a whole day of carer's leave
  • set aside a room for private conversations. Some caring obligations require privacy e.g. discussions regarding aged care accommodation
  • consider attracting employees who live locally by advertising in the local press. Working locally makes it quicker to pick children up from school and promotes your business as a flexible workplace
  • be open to trialling different ways of working which potentially improves your profitability


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Last Modified Date: 22/DEC/2010