As Canada’s flexible work expert, we like to keep our eye on what is happening globally. For example, Australia’s Fair Work Commission issued a decision in September regarding an employer’s role when faced with a flexible work request. Basically, the employer must give the request fair thought and provide an explanation if the request is refused. In this blog, we share the details and explore what it could mean for flexible work in Canada.
Details of the Flexible Work Decision
“Under the new clause, employers will be obliged to ‘discuss the request with the employee and genuinely try to reach agreement on a change in working arrangements that will reasonably accommodate the employee’s circumstances’, before responding. They must have regard to ‘the needs of the employee arising from their circumstances’; ‘the consequences for the employee if changes in working arrangements are not made’; and ‘any reasonable business grounds for refusing the request’.” (Source)
The Context for the Decision
Under Australian National Employment Standards, employees have the right to request flexible working arrangements for a number of different reasons, including if they are a parent, have a disability, are over age 55 or care for another person. The Fair Work Commission is an “independent body with the power and authority to regulate and enforce provisions relating to minimum wages and employment conditions, enterprise bargaining, industrial action, dispute resolution, and termination of employment.” (Source)
“The new clause was crafted in response to ‘significant unmet employee need for flexible working arrangements’ in Australia, where about a quarter of workers were ‘not happy with their working arrangements’. (Source)
What Does This Mean for Canada?
Simply put, this doesn’t mean anything in Canada or for Canadian employers who are covered by federal and provincial labour and employment laws.
We wouldn’t be doing justice to the topic if we left it at that.
Employees’ desire for flexible work has been well-studied. For example, we know that 42% of employees would consider leaving their employer for more flexibility and 64% of employees prefer to work from home from time to time. We also know that flexible work can benefit both employees and the organizations who hire them. We also know that many managers (and organizations more generally) still decline employees’ requests for more flexibility.
In our view, there are two things that would help advance flexible work in Canada:
- A stronger commitment by leaders of organizations to identify and remove the barriers for flexible working; and
- Support from the federal and provincial governments, similar to Australia’s Fair Work Commission and National Employment Standards described above.
How Work Evolution Can Help
Work Evolution is Canada’s flexible work expert and we know that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Organizations are complex. Humans are complicated. Values, attitudes and beliefs are intertwined. Culture can be hard to change. We are evolving the way that work gets done through our consulting services. Specifically, we work with our clients to:
- Learn about the organization’s culture
- Define opportunities for flexible work
- Develop and implement a customized flexible work program
- Educate, teach and coach the professionals and managers
- Evaluate the program’s success
Connect with us today to learn more.