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Adopt flexible work arrangements

Flexibility in the workplace helps employees balance the changing demands of professional and personal life, and is a key to creating inclusive and diverse workplaces.

There are 3 main areas:

From 1 March 2017, all employees can request flexible work arrangements under the Industrial Relations Act 2016.

Learn more about the right to request flexible work arrangements. (DOCX, 127 KB)

How to implement

Approaches to flexible working can be formal or informal. Some people will prefer structure and routine, while others work best when they have options to balance competing work and life responsibilities. 

Although each agency decides how flexibility can be embedded, we should be challenging traditional approaches to the way we work and ask ‘if not, why not?’ when considering the options for working flexibly. Approvals are usually in accordance with the agency’s HR policies, and depend on the requirements of the role and agency needs. Not all positions lend themselves to a high degree of flexibility.

High performing flexible workplaces:

  • focus on service delivery improvements  
  • are sustainable and adaptable to change
  • promote equality and equity
  • align technology and systems to support their work
  • recognise employees as key partners in working flexibly and involve them through communication, consultation and collaboration
  • manage by outcomes and results
  • have a culture and leadership that explores and trials new ways of working, innovation and continuous learning
  • promote the business and employee benefits of flexibility
  • actively demonstrate a commitment to inclusion and diversity.


Benefits of a flexible workplace:

  • attract and retain talent as an employer of choice
  • increase staff morale and job satisfaction through a positive work environment
  • improve productivity and customer outcomes
  • reduce absenteeism
  • increase workforce participation, agility, and improve diversity
  • reduced recruitment and turnover costs
  • reduce psychological and physiological stress
  • manage changing demands
  • retain corporate knowledge.

Examples of flexibility in the workplace

  • Mark has school aged children and works 5 hours a day between school hours.
  • Fred has ageing parents who rely on him to get to medical appointments. He works full-time over a 9-day fortnight — using 1 day a fortnight to help his parents.
  • Jane loves travel so is working 4 years on, 1 year off under the deferred salary scheme. 
  • Jack retired a few years ago, but became bored. His professional skills lend themselves to project work so he works on 2 discrete 3 month projects a year — effectively giving him 6 months work a year.
  • Alice is a single mum and finds it difficult to manage school holidays so she uses her recreation leave at half pay — thereby giving her 8 weeks leave a year.
  • Alex has decided to return to studies so is using leave without pay to attend to full-time studies. He will then return to the workplace afterwards with a broader level of skills and knowledge.
  • Isabel has always wanted to do volunteer work in another country so she has arranged a placement and is taking leave without pay so she can go overseas for 4 months.
  • John is planning to retire in a few years, but wants to phase into retirement so he is going to take an extra 6 weeks recreation leave each year to ease himself into his new life. He is also going to redeploy to a lower level so he has less responsibility.


Consider this legislation and industrial instruments when assessing a request.