With many staff returning from family vacations, now is a popular time for employees to make requests for flexible work arrangements in the hope that they can better manage family obligations.

An important question that employers may ask is; when is it OK to say no?

Per the Fair Work Act 2009, an employer can only refuse a request for flexible working arrangements on ‘reasonable business grounds’. The Fair Work Act does not define what constitutes reasonable business grounds however the Fair Work Ombudsman provides a non-exhaustive list of examples. In summary, a request can be denied if the suggested working arrangement would be too costly, too impractical, or if it would significantly impact on customer service or productivity. Employers must take care to ensure that a refusal does not fall within the purview of other workplace laws such as anti-discrimination laws and equal opportunity legislation. Additionally, employers must comply with formal requirements by responding to the request in writing within 21 days, and explaining the reason for the refusal.

For general information see the fair work ombudsman best practice guide

For tailored advice regarding your employer obligations, contact the employment lawyers at Rankin & Co.