‘Work Life’ Balance – Employers Are Forced To Justify Reasons For Rejecting Workplace Flexibility

Here at Press, we are noticing a significant rise in the number of candidates across the real estate sector opting to leave full-time positions and seek more flexible employment opportunities.

Last month, the Fair Work commission passed down a new clause which will force employers to justify their decisions (in writing) to reject flexible work arrangement requests from employees.

The current view of ‘work-life balance’ is outdated and needs a re-think according to researchers from Australia and overseas. Discussions about the concepts of ‘life’ and ‘work’ in relation to work-life balance are gaining momentum, Curtin Business School associate professor Julia Richardson says ‘life’ usually refers to childcare responsibilities. But it may well be that people have other responsibilities and activities outside of work”.

“People may want to balance work with pursuing education, or religious responsibilities and requirements. It may also pertain to elder care or simply other activities or hobbies that do not involve taking care of children.”

“Work, on the other hand, is usually based on the notion of full-time, permanent employment, which is becoming less common, as part-time, zero-hour, contract and gig work increases”. Richardson says if employers want a more diverse and inclusive workforce, they should consider the different needs of individual employees.

“I think oftentimes in organisations, when they think about work-life policy, they start off with parents with young children. That’s okay for a starter, but that’s the beginning of the conversation,” she says.

Workers under all awards will now be entitled to a legal challenge if an employer fails to properly consider their request and make a genuine effort to reach an arrangement that will reasonably accommodate the employee’s circumstances. According to recent data collected by the commission, approximately a quarter of Australian workers are “not happy with their working arrangements”.

The drive for balanced work-life arrangements under the new model will arguably have a significant impact on small businesses and their ability to hire staff in a more competitive arena. Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all approach and organisations will have to take a critical view of their current policies and internal culture as the industry evolves to meet the needs of 21st-century employees.

Press Recruitment Managing Director Melissa Freeman says “I’m finding there is a large pool of underutilized part-time talent. Within that talent pool, the salary expectations are very competitive in comparison to what people are asking for in the full-time space”.

“A small number of organisations are capitalizing on the part-time talent pool and offering working from home arrangements, with weekly team meetings to maintain traction and collaboration. I’m also finding organisations undergoing internal restructures and moving towards a more ‘task-based roles’ approach, allowing them to take advantage of high caliber and available talent whilst still ensuring employees are able to deliver the right outcomes and meet business needs”.

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