Action Area #4—Flexible ways of working
‘We are holding employees and our agencies back unless we embrace flexible work’APS Submission Respondent
4A Agencies will review flexible work policies and practices to ensure they provide for a variety of contexts and settings. This may include:
- drawing on a mix of working in the office and working in another location
- expanding the use of job sharing
- additional flexibility for parents with school aged children and those with other caring responsibilities
- supporting remote working requests for the purpose of accompanying a partner (nationally or internationally)
- supporting employees transitioning to retirement through flexible work options (such as, job share or flexibility in hours and patterns of work through existing provisions in enterprise agreements).
In implementing this action, agencies will have regard to the following:
- all decisions will consider the needs of the organisation, for example, productivity
- agencies with particular working restrictions (e.g. security) or workplace arrangements will maximise the flexible work options available to them
- all decisions will consider individual factors such as wellbeing, duration, location, and security
- working from home is not a substitute for accessing leave, where appropriate.
4B Agencies will provide new parents a flexible, supportive and enabling environment in line with the Australian National Breastfeeding Strategy: 2019 and Beyond, which could include seeking accreditation as a ‘Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace’. Accreditation is awarded to agencies that provide 3 criteria to support their breastfeeding employees—space, time and support.29 This support will be inclusive of all parents or caregivers regardless of gender or whether they are the birth parent.
4C Agencies will enhance manager capability, including people management, and equip middle managers to lead flexible teams. This will include:
- assisting with job design
- ensuring employees are not working longer hours than necessary and they are able to balance competing priorities
- taking responsibility for keeping in touch with employees on long periods of leave
- talking to part-time employees about options to potentially increase hours using a combination of flexible work arrangements, where employees are interested in increasing their hours. This is particularly important to increase women’s workforce participation by moving beyond part-time hours as the norm for flexible working.
4D Agencies will consider advertising all APS positions as full time, part-time and job share.
Tips for agencies
Review workforce management practices and promote flexibility to strengthen attraction and retention initiatives. Employees look to senior leaders and managers as role models for flexible work. Creating cultural change could be as simple as leaving loudly and making caring responsibilities known to employees.
Success for this action area
Success is enabling all employees to maximise their contributions at an appropriate time that suits both parties and in a location that delivers results. It is acknowledged that not all requests will be possible, however it is essential to have a culture where requests are given genuine consideration including the benefits to both employee and organisation.
Holding ourselves to account
Flexible work is embraced and is business as usual as a way to support work and caring responsibilities, increase employee wellbeing and career opportunities, and improve overall agency productivity. Agencies are able to report use and type of flexible working arrangements, including implementing informal tracking to help overcome any inconsistent application of managerial discretion.