4 Steps to flexible working for mums

This week’s guest posting is from the Australian Fair Work Ombudsmen. In Australia tens of thousands of pregnant women and working mums report discrimination in the workplace each year. Make sure you know your rights.

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It is not surprising that parents sometimes struggle to handle their work responsibilities and be with their child the way that that want to be; especially in the early years.

Managing the needs of your toddler is a demanding task. A day at work might be more structured and predictable than a day with your family. Or it could be the other way around. Every family and workplace is different and it is good to think creatively about how you might balance the two.

The Fair Work Ombudsman’s working parents campaign is all about making sure parents and their employers understand their rights and responsibilities. If you’re unsure of where to start, visit fairwork.gov.au/workingparents to access information and resources including helpful checklists and templates.

Working parents in Australia have entitlements such as the right to safe work during pregnancy and parental leave to be with their new baby. They can also request flexible working arrangements that will help them accommodate work and family life.

The National Employment Standards provide the right to ask for flexible working arrangements. Flexible working arrangements can include things like changing your hours or patterns of work or working from home. These requests can only be refused for certain reasons.

Follow these steps when negotiating an arrangement to suit you and your workplace

1.     Discuss

Think about a solution that suits the business as well as your own needs. You might find it helpful to discuss your ideas with your employer before making a request. A conversation can give you both enough lead time to make suitable arrangements for you and your workplace.

2.     Request

Write to your employer (via email is a good idea). Outline the arrangement you think can work and offer reasons for the change. There are request templates available at fairwork.gov.au/workingparents to help you get started.

3.     Respond

Once you have sent the request, your employer must respond in writing within 21 days saying whether they accept or refuse the request. If they refuse, they need to explain why.

4.     Negotiate

Whether your employer agrees or disagrees with your request, flexibility arrangements will require ongoing negotiation. If the initial arrangement is not suitable, follow the process again and see if you can find something that works for everyone.

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Information about your rights as a parent from pregnancy, to your child’s first year and beyond is available at fairwork.gov.au/workingparents.

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