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Set up flexible work arrangements

Meet legal requirements while increasing staff loyalty and productivity.

On this page

  • Understand flexible working arrangements
  • Set up your flexible working arrangement policies
  • Implement your policies so they work for your business


You should carefully consider flexible work requests. You may refuse a request, but only on reasonable business grounds.  All requests and subsequent responses must be in writing within 21 days and, if they are refusing the request, must set out the reasons why.  Visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website to see employer guidelines.

What are flexible working arrangements?

Ensure employees know what is expected of them if they want to ask for flexible working arrangements - outline your flexible working policy as part of your Human Resources Manual.

HR manual template (DOCX 234.96 KB)DOCX icon

As part of the National Employment Standards (NES) employees who have worked longer than 12 months (including regular casuals) are entitled to request flexible working arrangements to help them care for their child (who under school age) or who is under 18 and has a disability.

With a growing trend in work-life balance flexible working arrangements can benefit both you and your employees.  Consider one of the following options to increase loyalty and productivity in your business.

Permanent, part-time work

This can help to provide a part-time income for a family with a new child and works particularly well for two parent families.

Graduated return to work (after parental leave)

Where the employee returns part time and then builds up to full-time work by an agreed date.

Flexible start and finish times

Help staff to accommodate child care and school pick-up requirements.

Flexible rostering 

These include rostering such as split shifts.


Where two or more employees share one full-time position, each working on a part-time basis.

Work from home

Make sure that you have good systems and policies (including OHS) in place to allow for productivity to continue when staff work from home.

Purchased leave (48/52 leave)

Where employees take an additional four weeks leave per year by adjusting their salary to 48 weeks paid over the full 52 weeks.

Compressed hours

Where the employee works additional daily hours to provide for a shorter working week or fortnight.

What to consider after receiving a request for flexible work options?

Employers should consider the:

  • employee's work and parental or carer responsibilities
  • parenting costs for the employee
  • financial circumstances of the employer
  • effect of the flexible working arrangements on the workplace
  • consequences for the business
  • consequences for the employee of not having the arrangements.