Flexible working arrangements – Government’s bargaining policy explained

Last updated: 30 Nov 2016

This page is: current

Bargaining policy Q&A

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What are flexible working arrangements?

Working in the Commonwealth public sector provides employees with flexibility to manage their personal commitments while ensuring agency operational requirements are met.

Flexible working arrangements allow employees to balance family, caring and other responsibilities and interests alongside their work commitments and career goals. Flexible working arrangements include initiatives such as flex time, time off in lieu, part time work, home based work, telework and job sharing.

What does the Policy require?

The bargaining policy does not require agencies to remove flexible working arrangements. In fact, it encourages greater workplace flexibility.

Some clauses in current agreements place restrictions around how flexible working arrangements work in practice. The policy requires restrictive practices to be removed from agreements. This ensures that agencies and their employees can operate efficiently with maximum flexibility.

What is meant by a restrictive work practice?

Agencies must be able to effectively manage their workforces to meet operational needs. Having access to workplace flexibility cannot mean that employees have a veto power over their work arrangements.

While managers make every attempt to accommodate employee's preferences, ultimately, employees are employed to deliver outcomes for their agencies. For example, if an employer and an employee cannot agree on the individual's hours of work, the employer needs to be able to determine reasonable and appropriate hours for that employee to ensure operational needs are met.

What flexible working arrangements do I have access to?

Most agencies have an enterprise agreement which outlines the flexible working arrangements available to employees. Many employees generally have access to arrangements such as flex time or time off in lieu, part time work, home based work and job sharing.

What is an individual flexibility arrangement?

The Fair Work Act 2009 requires enterprise agreements to include an individual flexibility clause. These clauses allow some terms and conditions in an enterprise agreement to be varied for an individual employee where the employer and employee agree to this.

These arrangements must meet the genuine needs of the agency and the individual while ensuring that the employee is better off overall on the individual arrangement. Many agencies use these provisions to help employees balance their work and family commitments. The arrangements provide a capacity to introduce flexibilities that benefit both an employee and an agency. Their use is encouraged and welcomed.