We have an opportunity to add an appeal process to our right to request family friendly working arrangements.
The ACTU has been in touch to seek the support of mums, whether union members or not, for their campaign to strengthen our family friendly working rights. The Fair Work Act is being updated and now is the time to pressure the government to make changes.
The current National Employment Standards allows eligible employees the ‘right to request’ family friendly work arrangements to assist their caring responsibilities but an employer can refuse any of these requests on reasonable business grounds. The Federal Government has recently announced that it will extend the right to carers of school-aged children, elderly relatives, persons with disabilities, victims of domestic violence and workers over 55 years of age.
While the ACTU has welcomed this extension of the right, they are disappointed that the government has not addressed the fact that once a request is refused, the law still does not provide an avenue for an appeal against an unreasonable refusal.
An opportunity exists now to fix this problem. The Fair Work Act is being updated and the ACTU is seeking a commitment from the Government that where requests are not seriously considered, or are unreasonably refused, an avenue to appeal be included.
Specifically, the ACTU wants:
1. All employees with caring responsibilities, older workers and workers experiencing domestic violence to have the right to request a change in work arrangements;
2. An obligation on employers to genuinely consider the request (which can be refused on reasonable business grounds); and
3. The right for an employee to appeal an unreasonable refusal of their request.
To succeed, the ACTU needs our help. They are asking working parents to come forward and share their experiences. They have published an online questionnaire here. As you would expect, the ACTU is also suggesting that parents join their appropriate union, which of course is your choice.
If you are happy to help, but would prefer to share your experiences here on the United Mothers blog, add a comment. Here are the ACTU’s questions:
1. Can you explain your current work situation.
2. Next, tell us a bit about your situation at home – do you have a family, a mortgage?
3. What pressures do you have balancing your work and family life? Do you have someone who needs your care that makes it difficult for you to work ‘normal’ hours. For example, have you recently had a child, or do you care for someone with special needs? Tell us about them and how you take care of them.
4. Have you ever asked for a change to your hours at work, to fit work alongside your caring responsibilities? What did you ask for? For example, to change your start and finish times, go part-time or work more hours on fewer days, or to do some work from home.
5. And how did your employer respond? If they said no, did they give you a reason? Did you think it was fair? Why/why not?
6. Now, to make sure our politicians understand that a right to appeal an unreasonable refusal of family-friendly work arrangements could help a lot of people. ”I think we need a right to appeal when an employer unreasonably refuses a request for family-friendly work arrangements because…”
Note: United Mothers is politically independent and unashamedly progressive. We support those that support our vision and manifesto for a genuinely family-friendly Australia. I believe that this ACTU campaign, if successful, will help all working families manage the challenges of family life in Australia and as such I support it. What do you think?