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 related to the hours you work, places you work and work arrangements you use.
Download the Flexible work possibilities resource for more information.
Check out Megan Barry, Executive Director, Queensland Public Service Commission in her 30-seconds of fame, where she lists all the types of flexible work she has tried during her career.
Table of contents
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 a number of weeks or months unpaid leave per year, or extra leave for proportionate salary. An example might be that 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.
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.
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 a 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.
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.
There should be a dedicated work area where employees are undisturbed. All the equipment and resources needed to do the job safely should be accessible. A formal workplace health and safety assessment may be required.
Telecommuting 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.
Temporarily using another workplace or work station. 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.
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.
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 receive 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. Mobility involves the movement of employees to new jobs, switching industries, transferring to other sectors or between agencies. Mobility 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. Phased retirement provides an incentive for employees to delay retirement and continue to contribute to the workforce. Phased retirement 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.
Transition to retirement
Transition to retirement is a way of managing superannuation contributions once a person has reached a certain age. For more information, contact your superannuation provider or financial advisor.
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.
Queensland Government employees can request flexible work arrangements under the Industrial Relations Act 2016. This is not an automatic right to the arrangement requested. The request must be made in writing and the employer has 21 days to response from receipt of request.
Find out how you can request flexible work arrangements or contact your Human Resources team for more information.
Changes to SmartJobs
Advertising vacant positions on the government’s dedicated job board, SmartJobs, has changed and now provides hiring managers with the opportunity to clearly promote the broad range of flexibility available across the sector. Conversely, applicants are provided with an opportunity to search a broader range of flexible work options.
When advertising or applying for a role, the position type will now include the following:
|Option||Description||Online (e.g. SEEK) advertising category|
|Flexible||Multiple flexible work options are up for discussion||Full-time and part-time|
|Flexible full-time||Full-time hours and some flexible work options are up for discussion||Full-time|
|Flexible part-time||Less than full-time hours and other flexible work options are up for discussion||Part-time|
|Full-time||Full-time hours only and no flexible work options are available||Full-time|
|Part-time||Less than full-time hours and no other flexible work options are available||Part-time|
|Non Standard Hours||Work that is paid for on an hourly basis, and is generally less than the ordinary weekly working hours of a full-time employee.||Casual|
Using flexible work options to broaden talent pool
Offering flexible work options gives an organisation access to broader pools of talent. It expands the range of potential employees from older and younger workers, as well as workers with family responsibilities, personal commitments and those that live at a distance. Flexible work also enhances the capacity to attract and retain the most talented and highly desirable candidates, who can afford to be selective about where they work.
Full-time not the default
Traditionally, the default for advertising roles has been full-time. Movement away from this means a greater opportunity to engage with talent who can operate across a variety of work hours, arrangements and locations.
Queensland Government already has a high proportion of flexible work underway and the introduction of the new ‘flexible’ options in SmartJobs is an opportunity to further promote this workplace benefit.
All roles flexible
All employees can request flexible work arrangements under the Industrial Relations Act 2016, and while not all types of flexible work suit all roles, there are very few instances where no flexible work options exist. Particularly when the flexible work possibilities are endless. Some hard to imagine roles include:
- Casual – flexible work options do not start and end with working hours or working from home. Talk to casual employees about what flexibility looks like for them. This may include preferred roster days or start and finish times.
- Senior Executives – are encouraged to lead by example and have the opportunity to negotiate flexible work options. Not only are these discussions a great opportunity to develop suitable personal arrangements but also introduce the flexible by design principles for application within the business.