Flexible working is far more than part-time work or working from home. While many agencies will have developed a lot of experience of working from home in the COVID-19 environment, there are many other types of flexible working within agencies and many of these have been standard practice for a long time. Resource 2 provides an overview of some of the more common types of flexible working.
Arrangements can be formal or informal, ad hoc or regular, temporary or permanent.
Informal flexible working (on a regular or ad hoc basis) usually occurs when managers agree that employees have flexibility over when and where they carry out their work, subject to meeting position responsibilities and deliverables. This can mean that the exact arrangements (times or place of work) vary and are agreed between managers and employees as and when needed. It can also involve agreements to more regular arrangements, such as regular changes to start and finish times, as long as arrangements don’t require changes to pay or employment contracts. This is likely to be the most common approach to flexible working in most agencies.
Formal flexible working occurs when a recurring work arrangement impacts on pay or involves changes to employment terms and conditions such as working hours, patterns and location. It may take place for an agreed period or on an ongoing basis with regular review. Examples could include regular part-time hours, job sharing, or working remotely on a regular basis.
Both formal and informal arrangements require cooperation, communication and flexibility by all parties. Resource 4 outlines recommended processes for establishing both informal and formal arrangements.
Flexible working arrangements may involve more than one type, for instance a person working part time may agree flexible start and/or finish times and also that s/he works from home one day a week.
This guidance and the attached resources recommend practices that go beyond the minimum flexible working requirements in the Employment Relations Act 2000 (ERA). Having said this, agencies need to ensure continued compliance with the minimum requirements as set out in the ERA. Information, tools and guidance on rights and responsibilities under the ERA, including a checklist for requesting flexible working can also be found at www.employment.govt.nz/workplace-policies/flexible work.