Requests for Flexible Work Arrangements and Parental Leave are two of the eleven defined National Employment Standards (NES) that make up the minimum entitlements for employees in Australia.
These entitlements are also outlined in the Fair Work Information Statement that is issued to every new employee when they commence employment.
Other workplace instruments can’t provide for conditions that are less than the NES so it is important that businesses understand their duties and the requirements, particularly as and when changes are introduced.
Requests for Flexible Working Arrangements
There are several changes that will come into effect from 06 May 2023. These include:
Expansion of the circumstances in which an employee may request a flexible arrangement. Will include where an employee or a member of their immediate family or household, experiences family or domestic violence.
increase in an employer’s obligations when considering an employee’s request, with the aim of supporting or improving an employee’s access to flexible working arrangements, and
introduction of dispute resolution provisions that empower the FWC to make orders where an employer refuses an employee’s request, including:
whether the employer has reasonable business grounds to refuse the request, or
where the employer has not responded to the request within the required 21 days
There are changes to unpaid parental leave that come into effect from 06 June 2023. These include:
New rules apply to employers who intend to reject an application from an employee to extend their unpaid 01 July 2023. parental leave beyond 12 months. Employees will also be able to appeal to the Fair Work Commission if they are unhappy with the outcome of their request.
There are changes to paid parental leave that come into effect from 01 July 2023. These include:
The existing maximum 18 weeks’ parental leave pay will be combined with the two weeks’ father and partner pay to provide a single 20-week scheme, which can be shared between parents.
The maximum parental leave one parent could receive is 18 weeks. For example, one parent could receive 18 weeks pay, and one parent 2 weeks’ pay, or both parents could receive 10 weeks pay each, etc.
Employees who are single at the time they claim will be able to receive the full 20 weeks’ parental leave pay.
Claimants will now be able to receive parental leave pay in multiple blocks, of at least a day at a time, up to two years from the birth or adoption of their child.
The means test for eligibility will be amended by introducing a $350,000 per annum family income test. This will mean that there is no requirement for the claimant to meet the individual income test.
It is really important that if you have policies already in place that you update these to ensure they reflects the appropriate requirements and that they clearly outline both the employee and employer obligations.
If you need any assistance drafting policies or adjusting existing policies to conform to the new requirements, do not hesitate to get in touch on 1300 1 OUR HR (68 747)
A HR publication, HR Daily, released an article this month on the rise in burnout causing serious health issues in the workplace. In the first quarter of 2022 we have helped multiple businesses navigate this minefield.
The reality is that individuals and businesses have had to navigate very challenging times – from a pandemic that has resulted in ongoing changes within businesses and resourcing constraints as a result of a number of things from loss of work to dealing with staff impacted by the virus, to more recently – the floods which has devasted many homes and businesses.
The stress of dealing with how a business is impacted can sometimes mean our attention is elsewhere. These events alone are enough to test the most resilient of us however there is a need to make sure we are continually checking in on team members to understand how they are doing and what support they may need. When stress and emotions are heightened work that was perhaps manageable can become unmanageable and more difficult to navigate.
In some organisations more than 50% of employees will experience symptoms of burnout referring to emotional and intellectual exhaustion. Some typical factors that contribute to burnout in a work setting are lack of workplace culture, feeling undervalued, lack of community amongst colleagues, feeling disconnected from their work.
Burnout may lead to some very real health concerns such as diabetes, high blood pressure, anxiety and insomnia. This may stem from a sense of feeling demotivated, not wanting to exercise, eat nutritious meals or take care of your own wellbeing. It can become just a fight to cope.
In May 2019 the World Health Organisation recognised burnout as a serious health problem and finally classified it as a mental condition. From an organisational perspective burnout can cost you dearly. Employees are more likely to take sick leave, or even look for another job increasing your turnover, recruitment costs, and reducing your revenue.
Burnout is simply a condition that no one is immune to.
So, what can a company do to help combat escalating cases of burnout?
Create a caring and supportive environment
Encourage staff to take regular breaks from their desk, to not take work home in the evenings and to approach their manager if they are feeling overwhelmed. Promote a healthy work schedule, if as a manager you tend to work long days make sure your staff know that it’s ok for them to leave, burning the midnight oil on a regular basis is not productive for anyone.
Follow an open-door policy and schedule regular catch ups with your team members. Be honest and transparent and encourage communication about life rather than just work. Diving straight into task orientated conversations can leave an employee feeling more like a number and less like a person, which can overall instil heightened levels of pressure and disconnectedness.
Consider your resources
Often dedicated employees work harder and harder, unwilling to turn down requests for help. Take time to review whether you are staffed correctly, would you benefit from an additional resource? Neglecting to resource correctly will leave employees picking up the slack and productivity taking a hit.
4. Consider EAP
If you do not have an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), consider researching these. Many EAP providers offer monthly wellbeing initiatives focussed on different factors such as nutrition, exercise, and sleep. They provide multiple tools including webinars, fact sheets and videos that can help employees refocus on wellbeing.
If an EAP isn’t for you, or if you want to heighten your wellbeing initiatives consider a dedicated Health Ambassador. This person would be a volunteer within your organisation responsible for review wellbeing initiatives that could be incorporated each month, such as a lunch time walk club, yoga sessions, or a fruit box delivery. Small gestures that give wellbeing a place in your company culture.
Burnout will always exist but by following some of these simple guidelines it may help to prevent burnout within your team. The more you care for your employees, the more your employees will care for the company. After all an organisation is only as healthy as the people who work for it……
Even with all the opportunities for virtual face-to-face meetings, it is easy to miss visual cues in body language and facial expressions that could be telling you an employee is not coping well. Although some people may have thought working from home was their dream job, the reality is it can feel isolating and can prove more challenging than working from an office.
A human resources magazine, Human Resources Director (HRD), recently released an article on the most effective COVID-19 communications, reporting that interactive messages via messaging apps such as Slack, Teams or WhatsApp have a 72 – 88% effective response rate over e-mails. It was found that e-mails have only a 15% open rate and less than 2% response rate.