Flexi-time: The pros and cons

Kapi-Mana News - - OPINION -

H asks what flexi-time is and whether he has to agree to an em­ployee’s re­quest for flex­i­ble work hours.

The in­ten­tion be­hind the flex­i­hours leg­is­la­tion is to change em­ploy­ers’ at­ti­tudes to­wards more flex­i­ble work­ing ar­range­ments and to pro­mote im­proved work-life bal­ance for em­ploy­ees.

Un­der the leg­is­la­tion, em­ploy­ees have the right to ap­ply for flex­i­ble or part-time hours where they have, among other things, full-time care of chil­dren un­der 5, or dis­abled chil­dren up to the age of 18.

Be­fore the leg­is­la­tion, many em­ploy­ers would have con­sid­ered pro­pos­als for flex­i­ble work­ing ar­range­ments from val­ued em­ploy­ees, so what has changed?

The leg­is­la­tion im­poses a duty on all em­ploy­ers to con­sider ev­ery pro­posal. It also re­quires em­ploy­ers to demon­strate a clear busi­ness case for turn­ing down a re­quest if the de­ci­sion is chal­lenged.

Such rea­sons might be an in­abil­ity to re- or­gan­ise work among ex­ist­ing staff or an in­abil­ity to re­cruit ad­di­tional staff to ac­com­mo­date changes.

As an em­ployer, if you re­ceive a re­quest for flexi-hours there are sev­eral steps to be taken:

Check whether the em­ployee qual­i­fies.

Have they worked for you for six months? If not, they don’t qual­ify.

Have they made a pre­vi­ous re­quest within 12 months of the cur­rent one? If they have, they don’t qual­ify.

Have they the care of any per­son? The per­son does not have to be re­lated to them and there is no min­i­mum level of care nec­es­sary.

If they do qual­ify, or you de­cide to con­sider their re­quest any­way, you should con­sider whether there are grounds to refuse their re­quest. Grounds for re­fusal are:

In­abil­ity to re-or­gan­ise work among ex­ist­ing staff.

In­abil­ity to re­cruit ad­di­tional staff.

Detri­men­tal per­for­mance.

In­suf­fi­cient work dur­ing the pe­ri­ods the em­ployee pro­poses to work. Planned struc­tural changes. Bur­den of ad­di­tional costs. Detri­men­tal ef­fect on abil­ity to meet cus­tomer de­mand.

If they do not qual­ify, you can refuse their re­quest and must no­tify them of the re­fusal and rea­sons for it.

Re­gard­less of out­come, you must an­swer the re­quest within


on three months.

If you de­cide to refuse the re­quest, you must pro­vide your em­ployee with details of the ground for re­fusal and an ex­pla­na­tion of the rea­sons for ap­ply­ing that ground.

You should be aware that fail­ure to fol­low the pre­scribed pro­ce­dures can re­sult in a penalty of up to $2000, which is payable to the em­ployee.

For some em­ploy­ees it will also be rel­e­vant to note that mem­bers on a col­lec­tive em­ploy­ment agree­ment can­not have a flex­i­ble ar­range­ment con­trary to the col­lec­tive agree­ment.

It may feel like just an­other process to make life hard for em­ploy­ers. It is hoped, how­ever, that em­ploy­ers can also ben­e­fit from en­cour­ag­ing a work- life bal­ance for staff.

Re­search has shown that em­ploy­ees who are sup­ported by their boss in a flex­i­ble work­ing en­vi­ron­ment are more com­mit­ted and pro­duc­tive. Busi­nesses have also re­ported drops in ab­sen­teeism and im­prove­ments in staff re­ten­tion.

Fol­low­ing the ar­ti­cle on wills we are run­ning a com­pe­ti­tion to find the best ex­cuse for not hav­ing a will. Reg­is­ter your ex­cuse at rain­ey­collins.co.nz.

The ‘‘dog ate it’’ ex­cuse has al­ready been used.

Col­umn cour­tesy of Rainey Collins Lawyers. Phone 0800 733 484. If you have a le­gal in­quiry you would like dis­cussed, email Alan on aknowsley@rain­ey­collins.co.nz.

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