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New law offers help to balance professional and family life

By Andrew Steele - 2 Mar 2009

Many people who care for young children are in paid employment. Now legislation has been created to try to help working parents achieve better work-life balance.

The Employment Relations (Flexible Working Arrangements) Amendment Act 2007 came into force on 1 July 2008.

What the new law offers parents

This Act allows an eligible employee to request a variation to their working arrangements so they can better provide for the care of their children. Usually, the request for a variation will relate to changing hours, days or place of work. But the request may include other things as well.

What the new law means for employers

Once an employee has asked for a variation, the employer must consider their request. The employer must provide their decision to the employee as soon as possible and within 3 months from the date of the request.

An employer is only allowed to refuse a request for variation on the following specific grounds:

  • Ineligibility of the employee to make the request
  • Inability to reorganise work among existing staff
  • Inability to recruit additional staff
  • Detrimental impact on quality
  • Insufficiency of work during the periods the employee proposes to work
  • Planned structural changes
  • Burden of additional costs
  • Detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand
  • Conflict with a collective employment agreement.

Advice for your situation

As a working parent, you may want to know more about your legal rights.

As an employee, you might like advice about the types of flexible options you can make available to your employees.

For help with any employment matter, please contact our employment team.


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