The Fair Work Amendment (Better Work/Life Balance) Bill 2012:
- Gives people who have been in their job 12 months enforceable rights to request flexible working arrangements, including the number of hours they work, the scheduling of those hours and the location of work;
- For carers who are looking after another person, employers may refuse flexible arrangements only where there are serious countervailing business reasons. For all other employees, employers can refuse on operational grounds.
- Gives Fair Work Australia the ability to hear and determine any disputes if an employer refuses a request.
The average full-time working week in Australia is 44 hours, the longest in the western world. We perform $72 billion in unpaid overtime each year.
Just over half of all Australians want to change their hours of work, even if it might impact on their income. On average, full time employees would like to work about 5.6 hours less per week, while part-time workers would like to work on average 4 hours per week.
Research shows that working hours are impacting on well-being, with poorer health and greater use of prescription medications. It is also affecting our personal and family lives. Sixty percent of women feel consistently time pressured and nearly half of men also feel this way.
In this country need to better match the hours people want to work with the hours they actually work.
If people want to work different hours or work from home so that their life is better, then the law should allow it, provided it doesn't unduly impact on their employer.
In fact, allowing workers more flexible hours will be a productivity bonus for the economy.
Business will benefit from this reform and good employers are already promoting work/life balance. Satisfied employees are likely to remain in a workplace longer, be healthier and more productive.
Why we're making it easier for carers
Caring for those close to us must be a central concern for our society and is important to the economy.
If we are serious about supporting women returning to work after having kids, we need to not only expand childcare centres but also deliver a legally enforceable right to flexible working arrangements.
There are more women working more hours in paid employment, but there is still the unpaid caring to do. With caring still done predominantly by women, there is a growing double burden on women and their families. A third of women working full-time would like to do less paid work.
Almost half of all fathers in couple households work more than they'd prefer. It should be easier for fathers to adjust their hours at work to care for their children.
People need greater control over their time not just to look after their kids, but increasingly also their parents and grandchildren.
You can download a copy of the bill below. Please tell us what you think about the Bill in the comment section below.