From 1 July 2008 the Employment Relations (Flexible Working Arrangements) Amendment Act 2007 gives employees with caring responsibilities a statutory right to request flexible work. The Act will change the way some employees make and how employers respond to requests for flexible working arrangements. It is not just about part-time arrangements.
In terms of the education sector, there are a number of employees already operating on flexible arrangements to suit both school and personal circumstances. It is expected that such arrangements will continue. The difference now is that there is a formal procedure which will operate under the Act should an employee request in writing consideration by the employer to have flexible working arrangements to provide care.
What do you need to do?
If you receive a request under the Act (and that must be in writing) then you have a “duty to consider” such requests, check with an employment adviser about the steps to follow or look at the resources below. You do have the right to refuse on business grounds.
What resources are there?
A number of resources are already available on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's website and we will also develop resources specific to the sector located on the NZSTA website (under Board as Employer) as more experience is gained. Not all requests will be made under the Act, we expect that informal arrangements will continue to be made. It is important that you make sure which is which as the Act make arrangements permanent unless specified otherwise. Whatever the arrangement is though it should be set out in writing.