Flexible working arrangements are agreements made between employers and employees to allow variations from the standard working conditions of the business. Flexible work might take any of several possible forms, such as different work times, non-traditional paid leave requests, job-sharing, or work location, among others.
Flexible working arrangements are often negotiated to accommodate employees working under unique circumstances, thus allowing them to better meet the demands of their jobs and provide greater value to the company. In New Zealand, employees have a legal right to request these arrangements, and Employment New Zealand offers policies and guidance to make these requests formal and accessible.
In today’s competitive business landscape, businesses need to take every step they can to secure the top talent and give themselves a leg up on their competitors. Flexible working arrangements are a formal, legally sanctioned way for businesses to meet their employees half-way. Talented employees are a major asset, which is why a growing number of companies feel that flexible work is worth the administrative headache and inconsistency it sometimes causes. Many New Zealand businesses have found that the availability of flexible working arrangements improved employee retention, which resulted in more efficient workflow and higher workplace morale.
Flexible working arrangements are often permanent changes to a worker’s employment. For this reason, requests need to be treated seriously. For example, an employee could make a formal request for flexible work in writing including their name, reference to Part 6AA of the Employment Relations Act 2000, the nature, date, and justification for the proposed arrangement, and an explanation of the changes the business will have to make. In this case, the business must afford that request a fair consideration and formal response within 30 days.
While you can refuse the request if it is incompatible with the business’ existing structure or plans for future growth, it pays to work with your employees whenever possible. Your staff is your business’ biggest asset and you should do what you can to earn a reputation as an attractive destination for your industry’s top talent.