Request for flexible working arrangements

What is a flexible work arrangement?

A flexible working arrangement involves a change in the way an employee works, such as a change to the employee’s ordinary hours of work or place of work.

The Industrial Relations Act 2016 (Qld) (the Act) provides for the way in which an employee’s working arrangement may be altered under a flexible working arrangement. Flexible working arrangements are not restricted to the matters identified in the Act.

Who can apply for a flexible working arrangement?

The right to request a flexible working arrangement applies to all employees and is not restricted to specific purposes or categories of employees.

How does an employee make a request for a flexible work arrangement?

An employee seeking a flexible working arrangement must make the request in writing. The written request must state the proposed change in sufficient detail to allow the employer to make a decision about the request, and state the reasons for the change.

What must the employer do when responding to a request for a flexible work arrangement?

An employer has 21 days from receipt of a request to respond in writing to it.

The employer may grant the request:

  • in full
  • in part
  • subject to certain conditions
  • the employer may refuse the request.

There is no requirement for an employer to agree to a request for flexible working arrangements. However, any refusal, partial refusal or imposition of conditions must be made on reasonable grounds. While the Act does not define reasonable grounds the employer must explain the particular circumstances and reasons for his or her decision.

If the employer refuses, partly refuses or imposes conditions on the requested flexible working arrangement, the employer must include in their written response the reasons for the decision, including identifying the reasonable grounds for refusal, partial refusal or imposition of conditions.

The employer’s response must also state that the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC) has jurisdiction to hear and decide a dispute over the request.

Workplaces may have established systems and processes in place to facilitate employee requests for flexible working arrangements and for managers/employers to respond to those requests, provided they comply with the requirements of the Act.

What happens if the employer does not respond to the employee’s request for a flexible work arrangement?

Failure of an employer to respond to a request within the 21 day time frame is considered a refusal and as such the QIRC has jurisdiction to hear and decide a dispute over the request in the same manner as it would hear a dispute over a refusal, partial refusal or imposition of conditions on a request for a flexible work arrangement.

Further information

For specific information, contact your employer’s Human Resources or Industrial Relations area or your union.

Queensland Industrial Relations Framework

A comprehensive review of Queensland’s industrial relations laws resulted in the government adopting all 68 of the review’s recommendations which will promote a fair and balanced industrial relations framework. A significant majority of the recommendations will be given effect though the Industrial Relations Act 2016 (the Act). The Act received assent on 9 December 2016 following its successful passage through the Queensland Parliament on 30 November 2016. Most provisions of the Act commenced on 1 March 2017.

The Act provides a framework for the conduct of industrial relations within the State’s industrial relations jurisdiction that is fair and balanced and supports the delivery of high-quality services, economic prosperity and social justice for Queenslanders. The defining features of the State industrial relations system are:

  1. a set of minimum employment conditions and standards
  2. collective bargaining as a cornerstone for setting wages and conditions including good faith bargaining and other consultation
  3. requirements to promote consultation between employers and employees
  4. a set of individual rights to fair treatment
  5. effective, transparent and accountable governance and reporting obligations for all registered industrial organisations and employer associations
  6. the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC) as a strong and effective independent umpire.

The Act covers employers and employees to whom the federal Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) does not apply. Generally this means employers and employees of the Queensland government and local governments are covered by the Queensland Act.

Last updated: 6 November 2017