Flexible-by-default request and response process

Agencies will already have flexible working policies to ensure that they comply with flexible working requirements in the ERA.

Shifting to flexible-by-default, however, means taking a proactive and enabling approach to flexible working. Agencies can update their existing flexible working policies and processes, by working with employees and unions to:

  • use the principles of flexible-by-default as a touchstone for their thinking (page 3). They set out the balance that needs to be achieved between what works for employees, what works for teams and what works for the agency. They also establish expectations of fairness for all – employees, team members and managers – and of openness and flexibility on all sides
  • establish clear guidelines about the range of flexible working options likely to work for different types of roles (see Identify constraints and opportunities around flexible working in different role types, page 11)
  • revise flexible working policy and/or flexible working clauses in any employment agreements to promote and enable a sustainable flexible-by-default work culture
  • encourage managers to have proactive discussions with their teams about flexible working in the context of their team’s deliverables and responsibilities, rather than waiting for individual requests
  • ensure a consistent process is applied for establishing informal and formal flexible working arrangements, for example:
    • managers and employees discussing the request and considering solutions and alternatives before any final decisions are made
    • managers considering the impact of flexible working on team deliverables (including deliverables involving work with other teams) and the working arrangements of other team members
    • teams discussing how the flexible working arrangement can work
    • human resources advisors providing advice if an agreement between managers and employees is not reached
    • having a ‘one-up’ or higher-level approval process for proposals to decline formal requests
  • ensuring policies and processes are readily accessible and understandable to employees.

Resource 4 has suggested processes for establishing informal flexible working and for requesting formal arrangements and considering and responding to these requests.

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