Flexible Work Arrangements – Myths & Misconceptions

Friday 16 Mar 2018

HSUWA Public Sector organisers have been talking to members recently regarding Flexible Work Arrangements and wanted to share some information and bust some of the many myths and misconceptions!

So what are Flexible Work Arrangements?

Flexible Work Arrangements is an arrangement between you and your employer to work non-standard hours or non-standard days. Arrangements can include a 9-day fortnight; 19-day month; flexitime; modified standard hours; shifts of up to 12 hours or an appropriate mix of arrangements and they should generally be documented. Part-time work (whether temporary or permanent) is a type of employment covered by your contract and, while it might enable flexibilities, is separate to the flexible arrangements covered by this article. 

Your Enterprise Agreement formalises your employer’s support for the adoption of flexible working hours’ arrangements ‘with a view … to making the health service a better and more attractive employer’ and clearly states that your employer is required to take in to account both the operational requirements of the service and your family, community and personal responsibilities in considering requests to work flexibly. Your employer should not respond to requests to work flexibly with a blanket ‘operational requirements’ statement if they are refusing your request.

Here are some of the more common myths and misconceptions our organising team heard:

‘No-one in this Department / Site / Service is allowed to access Flexible Work Arrangements’

If no-one in your team is able to access flexible work arrangements and there is not a very obvious reason why, its generally a sign that your manager may not be giving appropriate consideration to your requests. Ask your manager to re-consider their position, give us a call if you need some help in preparing for that discussion or you have ongoing difficulties.

‘That part of the Agreement doesn’t apply to me/my job’

It appears that some line managers have the misconceptions!  We found some areas where members had been told by their line managers that the flexible work arrangements in the EBA do not apply to them. This is not correct and the Union is addressing this issue directly but if you’ve heard this response from your line manager, let us know and feel free to give them a copy of this article!

‘My Manager said ‘no’ so there is nothing I can do’

If your manager said no to your request, the first thing to do is ask why. Sometimes there is a good and sensible reason to refuse your request and, if there is, your manager should be able to explain that to you. If the explanation doesn’t sound reasonable to you, ask as many questions as you can so you fully understand their reasoning and give the union office a call. The union can help you to get the decision re-considered.

‘The Union Agreed to Give Away 19-day Months so we can’t have them anymore’

Rubbish!  The union did not and will not ‘give away’ a right or entitlement. You can take a look at your current Agreement here to see that access to flexible work arrangements, including 19 day months, are still in your Agreement. In fact, members told us that flexible work arrangements were very important to them as part of the Enterprise Agreement survey so we’ll be looking at ways to make your ability to access this type of leave easier as part of the new Enterprise Agreement. We’ll be using some of the information you gave us to help in negotiations.

If you have questions or need help with flexible work arrangements (or anything else!), give the union office a call and ask.

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