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Policy and procedures

A workplace flexibility policy formally sets out the flexibility guidelines, principles and procedures established by your organisation’s strategy.

Kate McKenzie"In order to get a productive society where people can manage their lives and their families, you need to have flexible ways of working. Men need flexibility as well – we have many men on parental leave at Chorus."

Kate McKenzie, Champion and CEO, Chorus 

 


LLoyd Cavanagh"We are embracing the opportunities that technology brings to provide better services for clients and meet their changing needs. Technology also allows our people to work more efficiently and flexibly which is important for productivity and engagement,"

Lloyd Kavanagh, Champion and Chair, MinterEllisonRuddWatts 

 

Why develop a policy for your organisation?

A workplace flexibility policy helps your organisation clearly communicate its intentions around flexibility and helps you to meet your legal obligations as an employer.

It formalises your organisation’s intentions around flexibility which in turn helps to guide decision-making for employees and managers alike.

How to develop a policy

Your flexibility policy should be descended from your flexibility strategy.

During the development of this, your organisation’s strategic approach to flexibility will have been tested and evaluated against the day-to-day realities of the organisation.

Your policy should include:

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A statement that outlines the motivations behind your organisation’s vision for flexibility and its importance to the overall business strategy.

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A definition of the purpose of the policy, the types of flexible working available at your organisation and how they apply.

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Guidelines and procedures for establishing flexible working arrangements:

  • TickCreate an application form or checklist to ensure that you have all the relevant information to base a decision on and to keep it consistent.
  • TickKeep the policy and application form somewhere central so everyone has access, possibly your intranet.
  • TickWhat level of sign off do you require for a flexible work arrangement? Just the applicant’s immediate boss or does a divisional manager need to approve it?
  • TickIs this different for informal and formal flexible working?
  • TickYour HR team will need to action any changes to an employee’s role, work hours, employment status, leave entitlements or benefits if applicable from agreeing a flexible working arrangement.
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Guidelines and procedures for managing flexible working arrangements:

  • TickSee ‘Leading in a flexible workplace’.
  • TickHave a trial period to ensure that the flexible work arrangement is working for everyone.
  • TickEstablish regular reviews whether every 3, 6 or 12 months.
  • TickTreat each request individually.

There are occasions where a request might not fit with the business requirements and the legislation covers the recognised business grounds:

  • inability to reorganise work among
  • existing staff
  • inability to recruit additional staff
  • detrimental impact on quality
  • detrimental impact on performance
  • insufficiency of work during the periods the employee proposes to work
  • planned structural changes
  • burden of additional costs
  • detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand.

It is important to keep track of the reason that a request has been declined you can review any challenges to flexible working

Flexible working is flexible

 Flexibility sweet spot infographic

Image credit: Implementing flexibility at Westpac

Creating a flexible workplace involves a culture of trust and respect for others. There is always an element of ‘give and take’ when it comes to informal flexibility.

Putting flexibility into practice

Plan ahead

  • Look for opportunities in the team, especially when you have a vacant role
  • Take the time to read your flexibility policy and request your team does the same
  • Talk to people proactively about whether flexibility could improve their productivity and engagement and support their lifestyle

Making a request

  • Be open to possibilities
  • Treat every request as individual – even if flexibility hasn’t worked in your team before
    • Schedule a dedicated time to talk to your staff member and remind them to come prepared with what they are looking for and how flexibility can help.

Finding a solution

  • Where possible, involve the team in how flexibility would work for the group (except where privacy may be an issue)
  • Agree on the specific details on the arrangement (i.e. hours of work, physical location, communication processes, delegating responsibilities)
  • Consider if additional tenchology is required
  • Establish a trial period after which the arrangement will be reviewed

Manage expectations and outcomes

  • Ensure you continue with 1:1s and team meetings – check in with each other regularly
  • Look for ways to communicate and connect as group

Further resources

04 Developing a workplace flexibility policy thumb2

Developing a workplace flexibility policy

Download this fact sheet on developing a workplace flexibility policy.

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runner stretching

Example policy A

Download this example workplace flexibility policy.

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man and daughter on computer

Example policy B

Download this example workplace flexibility policy.

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