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. Some employees prefer structure and routine, and others work best when they have options to balance competing work and life responsibilities.
Queensland Government employees have access to many flexible work possibilities, which relate to the hours you work, locations you work and work arrangements you use.
Table of contents
Flexible working hours
- Flexible working hours—work the usual number of hours, but vary start and finish times (within agreed spread of hours).
- Accrued time (also known as flexi-time or accumulated time)—work more than the standard daily or weekly hours. The time accrued can be taken later as full or part-day leave.
- Aggregated/averaging ordinary hours of work—work varied weekly hours, provided that at the end of a stated work cycle (e.g. 3 months or 1 year) the total required ordinary hours are worked.
Part-time employees have predictable hours of work each week, month or year, but fewer than full-time. They have the same entitlements as full-time employees (e.g. recreation and sick leave), but on a pro rata basis.
Part-year employment offers employees several weeks or months unpaid leave per year or extra leave for proportionate salary. For example, a person works 8 months a year with a 4-month break made up of recreation leave and leave without pay.
Sharing the duties of 1 job between 2 or more employees can be an ongoing or short-term arrangement. There are many ways to divide a job, but generally, there are 2 types of job share:
- twin model—jobs are split vertically where two employees share one position and all tasks, but work on different days
- islands model—jobs are split horizontally where employees share one position, but take on different aspects of the job. This can be a good arrangement if the job share partners have different skills.
Aggregated or compressed working hours
A formal arrangement where normal, full-time hours are worked (e.g. 36 hours, 15 minutes a week) over fewer than normal days. This arrangement is often used to work a 9-day fortnight.
Another example is in a 4-week work cycle an employee may work 45 hours in one week and 30 hours the next. Fatigue should be considered when implementing this arrangement.
An arrangement where a person contributes to the design of shift work schedules and may have some choice over which shifts they work. It can also include opting to work more or less shifts during a cycle. For example, a person may work 4 shifts the first week and 6 shifts in the next, provided at the end of a stated work cycle, the total required ordinary hours are worked.
An arrangement where the employee and employer agree on the number of hours to be worked on a yearly rather than weekly basis.
Becoming increasingly popular in the private sector, employees work 1 or more week on, followed by 1 or more weeks off. An example of this would be 2 weeks on, 2 weeks off.
Popular in the education industry, but also in other sectors, a person works during school terms and takes either paid or unpaid time off during school holidays.
Casual or on call
An arrangement where casual employees work the hours needed to meet the business needs. This is a great way to manage peaks and troughs in work volume and can often be delivered by staff working from home.
Career break or sabbatical schemes
Employees may be able to take significant periods of leave if operational requirements allow. In some cases, leave may be granted without pay or arrangements put in place to allow employees to receive proportionate salary for a period of time, with the remaining salary paid during the period of leave. This could be used for undertaking study, extended holidays or to help with grandchildren.
Remote work (or telecommuting) means working away from the central workplace—often at home. It can be for short periods or part of a long-term arrangement and can occur on set days or arranged as the work demands. Remote work may not be practical if the job requires:
- face-to-face contact with customers, clients or team members
- use of specialist, non-portable equipment
- direct supervision.
Distributed work centres
These are designated spaces established in an existing government office portfolio in a location that is remote from the primary office location. Staff who live in that area can work at the centre rather than commute to the primary office every day. These offices can be shared by more than 1 agency and support employees to work more flexibly and reduce commute time.
Temporarily using another workplace or workstation. This can be either in the usual workspace or in another building, and often the desk is shared by multiple employees on different days. In a ‘hot desk’ environment the employee doesn’t have their own personal desk. COVID-19 safe workplace directions must be adhered to when thinking about a hot desk approach.
Virtual teams and neighbourhoods
Advances in ICT have made it increasingly possible to work across time, space and organisational boundaries. Team members are usually dispersed geographically and come together to work on common projects or activities, or at a common place of work.
Leave at half pay
Subject to approval, long service and recreation leave can be taken at half pay to assist in balancing work and life commitments. It is often used as a way of covering school holidays, or to offer greater flexibility for career breaks, carer responsibilities, travel or study goals.
Special leave without pay
Subject to approval, leave without pay can be used throughout a career for both short and long-term absences or career breaks, while providing the security to return to a position at the same level. It is most often used to supplement other leave, such as maternity leave, recreation or long service leave.
- Purchased leave—extra leave funded by fortnightly deductions from the net salary that occur over a nominated period of time. For example, in a 46/52 arrangement, a person works 46 weeks a year and takes 4 weeks of normal annual leave, and 2 weeks of purchased leave. Pay is averaged over the full year so the person receives more leave than usual, but a lower annual pay.
- Extended leave arrangements—can be used to take longer periods of leave. For example, 6 months of leave to study.
- Deferred salary schemes—another variation of purchased leave. For example, a person works for 4 years at 80% of their salary and on completion of the fourth year, are entitled to 12 months of leave with fortnightly payments.
Mobility allows a more efficient allocation of resources and is a proven driver for increasing innovation. It involves the movement of employees to new jobs, switching industries, transferring to other sectors or between agencies. It also provides employees with the ability to hone skills, gain new skills and take promotions through transfers, secondments, workforce performance arrangements and interchanges. .
Phased retirement is a flexible work arrangement in which employees ease out of employment by reducing the number of hours worked, or by changing their responsibilities or employment arrangements. It provides an incentive for employees to delay retirement and continue to contribute to the workforce, and can be either a short or long-term arrangement. The key difference between a formal phased retirement situation and the adoption of flexible work arrangements is phased retirement is often for a pre-determined period prior to formal retirement. Sometimes phased retirement also involves a step-down process in which employees plan to gradually reduce the number of hours or days they work.
As part of phasing into retirement, you may wish to reduce your level of responsibility by voluntarily redeploying to a lower classification level (subject to operational requirements and work availability). Often this includes a period of mentoring from the soon-to-be retiree for the person taking over their role.