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National Carers Week 2016: How to capture the benefits of workplace flexibility

October 18, 2016

National Carers Week

Around 1 in 8 Australian employees are also performing a caring role outside of their employment. To coincide with National Carers Week 2016, HR Assured is encouraging its clients to not only think about what they can do to support these individuals in the workplace, but also consider how they can drive productivity through offering flexibility.

Think about your office assistant, Sally. Sally is in her late 50’s. She has been with your business for 11 years and has continued to deliver above and beyond your expectations. One day, Sally approaches you and tells you that her husband has Parkinson’s disease. She says that the disease has recently progressed at an alarming rate and he now requires her care and support. Sally asks if she can have the last Friday in each month off so that she can take him to his various specialist appointments. How would you respond?

Your legal obligations

The Fair Work Act provides that employee’s with caring responsibilities have the right to request flexible work arrangements. This might include things like flexible start and finish times, part time work arrangements or time off to attend medical appointments.

You are legally obliged to consider the request and provide a response in writing within 21 days. You can refuse the request, but only on reasonable business grounds.

A commercial solution

Aside from complying with your legal obligations, offering flexibility can be a great way to improve staff retention and boost productivity.

High staff turnover can cost your business dearly. This comprises of the direct cost associated with recruitment, but also the indirect cost of training new staff. Offering flexibility can be a great way to retain your valuable staff members and reduce these costs.

It can also be a great way to boost productivity. Research has consistently shown that workers are more engaged, and therefore more productive when they are able to determine when and how they perform their work. Staff tend to be healthier, less stressed and more loyal when you offer flexibility. This has a flow on effect of reduced absenteeism and improved employee engagement.

For more information on the recommendations and what this means for you, clients should contact the HR Assured team. If you’d like more information about the benefits of becoming an HR Assured client contact us today for an informal chat.