Organisations leading the way in workplace gender equality have in place a policy that specifically supports flexible working arrangements for all employees. This briefing note provides guidance on the key features of a flexible working arrangements policy.
What is a flexible working arrangements policy?
A formal policy on flexible working arrangements states the principles, guidelines and procedures related to flexible working arrangements and conditions that support employees’ personal choices. It provides an overall framework for complying with legal requirements as well as for the responsibility and accountability of both employer and employees.
Why have a flexible working arrangements policy?
A formal policy on flexible working arrangements clearly outlines the organisation’s stated intent and practices to provide a work environment that enables employees to optimise their contribution to the employer. It assists employers to meet basic legal obligations and supports people managers to make consistent and reliable decisions, which promotes a culture of fairness. It assists employees to manage their participation in paid work while providing clarity around entitlements and expectations. It benefits both the business and its employees.
It is recommended that organisations have a formal flexible working arrangements policy, which will assist organisation:
- meet legal requirements
- increase staff loyalty, satisfaction and commitment
- improve workplace productivity
- reduce absenteeism and staff turnover, resulting in lower recruitment and training costs
- attract, retain and develop talents
- be recognised as an employer of choice
Informal versus formal flexibility policy
Flexible working arrangements for individual employees can evolve in quite a casual way, particularly with a stable team with the same leader for a long period of time. Having informal arrangements in place around flexible working can be a very effective way of introducing flexibility to a team quickly and with the minimum amount of paperwork and administrative effort.
However, a change in leadership can create difficulties informal arrangements, particularly if a new leader has more traditional ideas around working and workplace structures. For this reason, it is worth considering how long a flexible work arrangement is expected to be in place when determining whether it should be formal or informal.
If it is a short-term arrangement for a few weeks or a couple of months, designed to meet a specific employee need, then an informal arrangement should be sufficient in most instances. If it is a long-term prospect, then a formal arrangement may be more beneficial to everyone. To encourage formal uptake of flexibility, it is important to streamline the process so that employees may easily apply for and record their flexible work arrangements.
Leading practice snapshot:
- Go beyond minimum legal obligations and strive to implement initiatives that benefit both business and employees.
- Consult to ensure the policy is tailored to the unique and specific needs of the employer and employees in a particular workplace.
- Communicate the policy to managers, particularly managers with responsibility for recruitment, performance reviews and training and development decisions.
- Communicate the policy to all employees, particularly during recruitment, performance reviews and training and development.
- Ensure that the flexible working arrangements policy is consistently applied across the organisation.
Key features of a flexible working arrangements policy
|Area||Key features that may be included|
|Guideline and procedures||
Eligibility and exclusions
An outline of the expectations imposed upon employees who have entered into a flexible working arrangement and their managers:
Performance and review
|References and resources||