January 9, 2019

Requests for flexible working arrangements

Photo credit: Dai KE, Unsplash

Requests for flexible working arrangements

Updated: 8 December 2019

Section 65 of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) allows employees to request a change in their working conditions like hours and location or working part-time. 

Example circumstances 

Employee’s may request flexible working arrangements if they employee is:

  • the parent or has responsibility for a child of school age 
  • ​a carer 
  • has a disability
  • is 55 or older 
  • experiencing violence from a member of their family 
  • provides care or support to a member of the employee’s immediate family who needs support because they are experiencing violence.

The rules 

An employee can make a request for flexible working arrangements if:

  • they completed 12 months of continuous service with the employer before making the request 
  • if they are a casual - they are a long term casual employee and have a reasonable expectation of continuing employments.

How to make the request

Employees need to make their request in writing and set out details of the change sought and the reasons for the change.

The employer’s response 

The employer needs to respond in writing within 21 days. Also, the employer may only refuse a request on reasonable business grounds and must include the reason in their response.

What are reasonable business grounds?

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of reasonable business grounds: 

  • too costly for the employer 
  • no capacity to change working arrangements of other employees to accommodate the employee’s request 
  • impractical to change working arrangements of other employees 
  • the change would result in a significant loss in efficiency or productivity 
  • the change is likely to have a significant negative impact on customer services. 


Employees can make a written request for a flexible working arrangement. Employers must respond in writing within 21 days. And employers may only refuse a request on reasonable business grounds. 

Do you have any questions or comments about flexible working arrangements? Leave them below.

About the author 

Vivian Michael

As founder and lawyer at Michael Law Group, Vivian advises Australia's top entrepreneurs on business and employment matters. Clients benefit from Vivian's commercially focussed and pragmatic legal advice, business experience, and commitment to deliver the best quality business legal services to her clients.

  • I’m over 55 and my request (without referencing s67 of FWC) was refused because they said my reason was not justifiable. My reason was due travel time to work – 47km. Do I have to give a reason other than stating being over 55?

    • Hello Anne,

      The employer should only refuse your request on reasonable business grounds per section 65(5) of the Fair Work Act.

      Being 55 or older allows you to make the request so that reason alone is sufficient. There’s no harm in mentioning that the travel time causes you hardship as well.

      Call the mainline if you need help and I would be glad to link you up with some free legal help contacts if you need them.

      Vivian Michael

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