A FULL Bench of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) has invited comments in relation to the draft model term concerning family friendly work arrangements.

This follows a decision from the Full Bench in which it rejected the ACTU’s claim seeking a variation of all modern awards to include an entitlement to part-time work or reduced hours for employees with parenting or caring responsibilities (see related article).

The Full Bench instead reached a provisional view that modern awards should be varied to incorporate a model term to facilitate flexible working arrangements.

A mention was held on 1 May 2018 to provide interested parties with an opportunity to make submissions about directions for the filing of further submissions and the further hearing of this matter.

Interested parties have until 1 June 2018 to comment on the provisional model term, as well as other issues such as whether it is permitted under s.136 of the Fair Work Act (permissible terms).

A further mention or conference will be held before the FWC on 21 June 2018.

Implications for employers

Given that it is likely that changes will be made in the flexible work space in the near future, we recommend that all employers with employees covered by Modern Awards should:

  • start thinking about and assessing how you manage flexible work in your workplace, including reviewing policies and procedures,
  • consider how the model term may affect the structure of your workplace and start planning on the assumption that the entitlement to flexible work will expand to more employees, and
  • consider whether to get ahead of the game by extending the eligibility to flexible work to more employees in your workplace now.

More broadly, we recommend that members continue to think about how they intend to manage their workforce into the future, paying particular attention to flexible working arrangements given research shows this is a key driver of employment decisions and job performance for both women and men.

Flexibility in where, when and how work is performed is a particular priority for employers to attract and retain talented and quality staff from a more diverse demographic base.

Best practice employers have processes in place that ensure their flexible work options meet all legislative requirements, are non-discriminatory and address the objectives and requirements of both the business and its employees.

AMMA and the Australian Women in Resources Alliance (AWRA) has published a Guide to Flexible Work which outlines 13 work options ranging from more traditional arrangements, such as part-time and casual employment, to more modern arrangements, such as job sharing, a results-only work environment, teleworking, compressed working hours and expanded leave. The guide can be downloaded here.

Family and Domestic Violence Leave

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has now released a draft model term in relation to family and domestic violence leave.

The term has been drafted to give effect to the Full Bench decision of 26 March 2018 in which it decided to provide five days’ unpaid leave per year to all award-dependent employees (including casuals) experiencing family and domestic violence (see related article).

Interested parties are invited to comment on the draft model term by 1 June 2018. A further mention or conference will be held before the FWC on 21 June 2018.

Implications for employers

While the Full Bench decision will give more than 2.3 million workers covered by modern awards access to five days of unpaid family and domestic violence leave, the Federal Government announced shortly after that this would be extended to all federal system employees. Legislation is yet to be introduced into Parliament.

There are obvious benefits to the employer, the employee, the employee’s children and to the broader community if those who are experiencing domestic violence can maintain their employment.

AMMA is aware of greater interests from resource sector employers seeking advice about recognising domestic violence in their workplace arrangements (whether through contracts of employment, policies or enterprise agreements).

Family friendly work arrangements and Family and Domestic Violence Leave are just two of many workplace updates to be provide to Western Australian members in Perth tomorrow. Secure your place at AMMA’s Industry Briefing here – free-of-charge for members.