The right to flexible working conditions is a step toward keeping family carers in employment
The Prime Minister’s announcement on the weekend that the Fair Work Act will be amended to extend the right to request flexible working arrangements to a wider range of carers and others, has been long awaited. This amendment is welcomed by the one million Australians in the workforce who assume caring responsibilities, as well as those hoping to return to employment in the future.
Carers Australia CEO, Ms Ara Cresswell said, “In Australia, only 23 percent of female primary carers are in full-time employment. This is in spite of the fact that many wish to work, need to work and would benefit greatly if given the opportunity to do so.
“Providing carers the opportunity to talk to their employers about their needs, to negotiate arrangements that would facilitate their ongoing employment and to balance their work and family commitments is essential and should be better facilitated through the amendment to the act.”
While few details are available about the amendments, the Prime Minister has made it clear that employers will be required to respond to requests for flexible working hours to enable their employees to combine work with their caring responsibilities.
‘’It is in the interests of carers, the people they care for, and government expenditure that carers retain an attachment to the workforce and remain in productive employment for as long as they feel it is possible,” said Ms Cresswell.
“There is a well-recognised business case for employers providing flexible working conditions. Flexible working conditions not only assist carers to remain attached to their workplace but often improve general workplace productivity, staff retention and staff satisfaction.”
“Carers Australia assumes that the new legislation will include the provision that employers must respond in writing to requests, as recommended by the Fair Work Ombudsman,” said Ms Cresswell.