Workplace flexibility back on the agenda

The federal government is looking to increase the number of people eligible to request flexible working arrangements.

The federal government is looking to increase the number of people eligible to request flexible working arrangements.

The Australian Financial Review reports that Labor is introducing legislation to Parliament that will increase the number of employees who can request more flexible arrangements with their employer.

Currently, those with disabled offspring under the age of 18 or a child enrolled in pre-school can request more flexible or part-time hours, though employers can refuse this.

The Gillard government said yesterday that this would be broadened to include other groups including carers and mature-aged workers.

“We understand that with the new Fair Work system, it’s important that we keep modernising because the needs of modern families change,” The Australian Financial Review reports her as saying.

The federal government is being pushed by the Greens to go further with flexibility provisions for parents. On the other hand, business leaders such as Dick Warburton of Manufacturing Australia believe that industrial relations laws need to be changed to increase productivity.

Innes Willox of the Australian Industry Group told AAP that more was needed before his group could give a detailed response.

"We look forward to consultations on the proposals and would expect the government to remain open to changes if necessary," he said.