Australian employers have little knowledge of new flexible work laws: Survey

HR better prepared to help guide employers through new legislation
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 10/30/2009

Australian employers are unprepared for new workplace laws that will allow employees to negotiate flexible workplace arrangements, according to a survey.

More than 80 per cent of 529 organizations surveyed said managers and employees had "non-existent" or "low" knowledge of the Right to Request Flexibility legislation, which comes into effect on Jan. 1, 2010.

But the survey by consulting firm Aequus Partners found 74 per cent of respondents expected the legislation to increase requests for flexibility.

The new flexibility legislation under the National Employment Standards allows employees to request flexible working arrangements, such as varied starting hours or part-time work, or arrangements that allow them to care for a child up to school age or a disabled child up to age 18.

An employer may refuse such a request only on "reasonable business grounds," which must be provided in writing to the employee.

HR managers scored higher than employers, with 50 per cent of respondents stating these professionals have "high" or "medium" knowledge of the topic.

The survey also found 95 per cent of HR managers intend to introduce Right to Request Flexibility guidelines, 91 per cent will run training for managers and 89 per cent will update policies over the next three months.

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