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Flexible Working Arrangements New Provisions Apply

Published 20 Jan 2015

The Employment Relations Amendment Act 2013 comes into force on 5th April 2015 and it changes the flexible working requirements by:

  • Extending the right to request flexible working arrangements to all employees (not just those with caring responsibilities) from the beginning of their employment.
  • Removing the limit on the number of requests an employee may make over a 12-month period.
  • Reducing from three months to one month the response time for an employer to consider a flexible working arrangement. collective agreement or if there are recognised business grounds for refusal.

Approving a request

An employer must deal with a request as soon as possible, but not later than 1 month after receiving it, and must notify the employee in writing of whether his or her request has been approved or refused.

Employers who, after considering a request, agree with the new working arrangement, must notify the employee of their approval.

The agreed new working arrangement will be a permanent change to the employee’s terms and conditions of employment, unless agreed otherwise. Where the flexible arrangements are being trialled or a time-limit has been agreed this should also be detailed.

Declining a request

An employer may refuse a request only if the employer determines that the request cannot be accommodated on 1 or more of the following grounds specified.

  • inability to reorganise work among existing staff:
  • inability to recruit additional staff:
  • detrimental impact on quality:
  • detrimental impact on performance:
  • 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.

However, an employer must refuse a request if:

  • the request is from an employee who is bound by a collective agreement; and
  • the request relates to working arrangements to which the collective agreement applies; and
  • the employee's working arrangements would be inconsistent with the collective agreement if the employer were to approve the request

The employer, when refusing an application must also:

  • state the ground for refusal; and
  • explain the reasons for that ground.

There will be circumstances where, due to the needs of the business, the employer feels they are unable to accept a request.