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Your questions answered: Can we retract or revise a flexible work arrangement if it doesn’t work out?

By Portner Press on May 13th, 2019
  1. Industrial Relations
  2. Flexible Work Arrangements

Q
An employee on maternity leave who is due to return has requested flexible/part-time work arrangements on her return, which we are currently considering. I understand the employee is entitled to ask for flexible conditions and that we must give it reasonable consideration.

If we agree to the flexible arrangements, are we able to retract or revise them if it is not working out down the track? Can we make an agreement with the employee that the flexible work arrangements are on a probationary basis?

A
You are only able to refuse a flexible work arrangement if you are unable to accommodate the request on reasonable business grounds. You will need to confirm with your employee whether she wants to enter into a flexible work arrangement with the company where she will work part-time, or if she Is seeking a permanent variation to her contract. This may have an effect on whether it will be reasonable for the company to refuse to accommodate the request. Regardless of whether the change is intended to be permanent or temporary, the arrangement should be set out in writing and signed by both you and the employee.

Entering into, and continuing, a flexible work arrangement is subject to the business needs of the company. It is also subject to the employee having ongoing carer responsibilities. There is no set time as to how long a flexible work arrangement can continue, but you could agree with the employee to specify a time by which she will return to her pre-maternity leave role. You may want to include review dates in the agreement where both you and the employee can give feedback on whether it is a suitable arrangement.

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