On 12 January 2018, the Commission issued a Statement attaching three Background Papers and inviting interested parties to comment. The ACTU’s comments on the Background Papers are set out in Submission.
Background Papers 2 and 3 consider a number of different frameworks aimed at assisting employees to manage their work and caring responsibilities. In the ACTU’s submission, the establishment of a right to reduced hours for parents and carers (as opposed to a mere right to request reduced hours) is an essential aspect of a meaningful minimum standard in relation to flexible working arrangements in Australia. The starting point should be that an employee who meets minimum eligibility and notice requirements is entitled to reduced hours. Discussion can then occur around the detail of an employee’s proposal, including matters such as the days and hours of work and the duration of the arrangement. If a right of refusal is permitted at all, it should be permitted only at this later stage, with the bar for refusal appropriately high; consistent with the examples listed above at . In addition, a right to revert to former hours, access to dispute settlement and a qualifying period which is not unduly onerous are also key aspects of an effective framework.