Important Amendments – Flexible Work Requests and Parental Leave
Significant changes to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) came into effect on 6 June 2023 and 1 July 2023. It is important to be across these changes and ensure that your workplace policies and procedures are up to date.
- Requests for Flexible Working Arrangements
From 6 June 2023, the Fair Work Commission has greater powers to hear disputes and make orders about requests for Flexible Working Arrangements in circumstances where an employer has refused a request.
Additionally, the categories of employees who can now request a Flexible Working Arrangement has been expanded. Employees who are pregnant may now make a request.
When employers respond in writing to a Flexible Working Arrangement they must consider additional matters prescribed by the Fair Work Act. Employer’s cannot now refuse a request without first discussing the request with the employee and genuinely trying to accommodate the employee’s circumstances with alternative arrangements.
Additionally, the employer response must address matters currently prescribed by the Fair Work Act and what alternatives the employer can make to accommodate the employee’s circumstances. The employer must also inform employees about how they can refer a dispute to the Fair Work Commission.
- Changes to Parental leave
From 6 June 2023 the Fair Work Commission has expanded powers to hear and determine disputes about parental leave and employers have additional obligations to consider and respond to requests for extending unpaid parental leave.
Additionally, for children born on or after 1 July 2023:
- partnered couples can claim up to 20 weeks’ paid parental leave between them (single parents can access the full 20 weeks);
- an employee’s flexible unpaid parental leave entitlement increases from 30 days to 100 days;
- flexible unpaid parental leave can be accessed up to 6 weeks before the expected due date of their child (as well as in the 24 months after the day a child is born, or an adopted child is placed);
- fathers or partners have increased parental leave rights, including removing the previous 8 week restriction on taking concurrent leave.
If you require assistance from our Employment and Workplace Relations team, do not hesitate to contact us.