A Information to the 2023 Versatile Work Reforms

The Safe Jobs, Higher Pay Act 2022 (Act) has up to date the legal guidelines governing requests for versatile working preparations and introduces new provisions that allow the Honest Work Fee to settle disputes associated to such requests.

The modifications might be carried out on 6 June 2023, and employers should comply from that date onwards. In abstract, the modifications require that employers, earlier than refusing a request, should meet with staff to debate the requested versatile work preparations and contemplate different working preparations with them. 

What’s altering underneath the Safe Jobs, Higher Pay Act 2022? 

The Act enhances the prevailing rights to request versatile work preparations as outlined in part 65(1A) of the Honest Work Act 2009 (Cth) by broadening the conditions through which an worker can search versatile preparations. This now contains circumstances the place an worker, or somebody from their speedy household or family, encounters “household and home violence”, as outlined in part 106B(2) of the Act.

Moreover, the Act incorporates a brand new part, 65A, mandating that an employer who receives a request for versatile work preparations should:

  • meet with the worker to debate their request for versatile work; and
  • if the employer plans to say no the versatile work request, both attain a mutual settlement on different modifications to the worker’s working preparations and file the agreed-upon modifications within the employer’s written response; or
  • ought to the employer nonetheless intend to refuse the request, specify the affordable enterprise grounds for the refusal and tackle the next:
    • doable changes to the worker’s working situations that might accommodate (to a sure extent) the worker’s state of affairs and that the employer is prepared to make; or
    • that the employer is unable to implement such changes to accommodate the worker’s circumstances.

The Act introduces a dispute decision mechanism for conditions the place an employer has:

  • denied a versatile work request; or
  • failed to supply a written response to a versatile request inside 21 days; and
  • the events can’t resolve the dispute by discussions on the office degree.

Conciliation ought to be the primary level of name to resolve a dispute in circumstances involving versatile working association disputes, until there are “distinctive circumstances”. Conciliation is a course of led by a conciliator appoint by the Honest Work Fee, the place the events negotiate informally with a view to discovering frequent floor. In any occasion, significantly following a failed conciliation, the Fee has the authority to “tackle a dispute because it deems appropriate” or refer it to arbitration the place conciliation is unsuccessful or “urgency is required”.

Implications for Employers and Subsequent Steps 

Employers ought to make it possible for they’re able to comply by the date when these modifications will turn into efficient, on 6 June 2023. As a primary step, employers ought to replace their insurance policies. For a versatile working coverage that’s up-to-date with these modifications, see Lawpath’s Versatile Working Coverage doc.

Nevertheless, it’s not sufficient for employers to conform on paper. They have to additionally virtually implement the office modifications. Particularly, employers ought to guarantee they comply by:

  • updating their strategy to assessing and responding to staff’ versatile work requests to include the necessities to:
    • meet with the worker and focus on their request; and
    • inform the worker of any modifications to working preparations the employer is prepared to think about to accommodate their state of affairs.
  • assessing any obstacles to their means to supply versatile working preparations to staff (contemplating the character of the enterprise) and the potential proof wanted to exhibit these obstacles.