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Chapter 4: Increased take-up of flexible work arrangements by men and women

It is time to think beyond the traditional idea that flexible work is only for mothers of young children. In contemporary society, both individuals and workplaces benefit from flexible arrangements being accessible to everyone, regardless of gender, classification, or role.

Leaders, managers, and supervisors should be vigilant in making sure employees who work flexibly have opportunities for development and career progression.


  1. Agencies are to review current roles and adopt a 'flexible by default' approach. This includes managers challenging assumptions about how work should be done and how jobs are designed. Agencies are to put in place steps to ensure flexible work arrangements are not detrimental to employees' career progression.
  2. Leaders must put mechanisms in place to improve the take-up of flexible work arrangements by men.
  3. The APSC will deliver a best practice guide and training on how to manage flexible work arrangements.
  4. The APSC and agencies will develop and implement a return to work framework for working parents that also encourages more men to use parental leave provisions.
  5. The APSC will review the Maternity Leave (Commonwealth Employees) Act 1973 and propose amendments that improve its ease of administration, flexibility in access to provisions, and delivery.

The case for change

Flexible work arrangements can include options about when, where, and how work is performed, with a focus on outcomes rather than hours in the office. Examples include:

hours of work
e.g. changes to start and finish times, fewer hours

patterns of work
e.g. job sharing, compressed hours

locations of work
e.g. working from home for part of the work week

Dennis Richardson AO

Department of Defence

The Defence workforce gender balance compares poorly to other agencies.

I want to see more practical measures in place, which further gender equality in professional development and opportunities for progression. Increased female participation in the Defence APS workforce, and in senior leadership roles, must be a focus if we are to broaden our access to the considerable skills and capabilities within the Australian community.

Last reviewed: 
10 July 2019