Greens introduce amendment to widen flexible working hours provisions
Thursday, February 9, 2012/
Small business has expressed reservations about an amendment introduced by Greens MP Adam Bandt that would allow employees to appeal to Fair Work if their employers deny them access to flexible working hours.
The amendment, which is being sent to Parliament on Monday, would enable all permanent workers with more than 12 months’ service to appeal to the tribunal if their request for flexible working hours were denied.
Council of Small Business of Australia chief executive Peter Strong told SmartCompany this morning the amendment is “simply not workable”.
“You’ve got a situation here where a person makes a decision they think is correct for their own business. If someone takes time off, it often means the business owner has to work more.”
“You could have a decision made by Fair Work Australia, where a person is allowed to work different hours that could affect another person’s work, that could affect a person after that, and so on and so on.”
Currently, employees with children are allowed to ask for flexible working hours. However, employers can refuse these claims “on reasonable business grounds”.
Bandt told Fairfax the bill is designed to help employees who may be caring for other family members to ask for flexible hours, and employers will only be able to refuse if they have “serious countervailing business reasons”.
”The Greens want people to have more control over their time and working arrangements, balancing this against their employers’ legitimate operational needs,” Bandt told Fairfax, noting the Greens believe it has enough support to actually pass the amendment.
”We need to better match the hours people want to work with the hours they actually work.”
Bandt was contacted this morning by SmartCompany, but was unavailable.
Strong says small businesses have spent too much time dealing with Fair Work, and shouldn’t have to answer to an authority to judge how best their businesses should be run.
“We have no faith in Fair Work considering the needs of small business. The appeal process just takes too much time, and for a person running their own business, it’s a huge problem.”