Public servants to gain 'groundbreaking' flexible work rights

All APS staff can request WFH without cap on number of days a week

Public servants to gain 'groundbreaking' flexible work rights

Public servants across Australia will be receiving expanded flexible work and work-from-home (WFH) rights following an agreement between the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) and the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC).

"Groundbreaking flexible work and working from home rights have been secured in negotiations between the union and the APSC," said CPSU national secretary Melissa Donnelly in a media release.

Under the agreement, all APS employees will be able to request for flexible work arrangement, including WFH, to agencies that will be required to lean towards approving such requests.

No cap on WFH days

There won't be a cap imposed on the number of days APS employees can work from home in a week, added the CPSU in its announcement. The agreement also mandates agencies to consider connection to country and cultural obligations for First Nation employees' request for remote work.

Agencies will only be able to refuse a request after trying to reach an agreement and following the required steps for considering requests, according to the union, which also gets to support members trying to resolve the matter with their agency.

Refusals to work flexibly can also be challenged in the Fair Work Commission, according to the union.

Peter Riordan, chief negotiator at the APSC, said the development would "create a consistent approach to flexible work arrangements for all APS employees," the Australian Financial Review (AFR) reported.

The expanded flexible work rights are expected to cover 174,000 bureaucrats across 103 agencies, according to the AFR report.

Flexible working to boost diversity

Flexible work policies have long been pushed across organisations to encourage more women to work full time. In Australia, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency revealed that women aged 35 onwards are predominantly working part time or casually.

With expanded flexible working, the CPSU said APS employees will become more diverse.

"These significantly improved and enforceable flexible work rights will open doors for individuals who were previously unable to consider APS employment, or had to leave because of a change in circumstances," Donnelly said.

"Flexibility in how, when and where public sector work is done will see the APS become increasingly diverse, adaptable, and accessible."

The CPSU also lauded the APSC for agreeing to the deal and expanding flexible work rights for its employees.

"By embracing this opportunity and becoming a leader in workplace flexibility, the APSC and the government have taken meaningful steps towards establishing the APS as a model employer," Donnelly said.

"We will be continuing to push the APSC for significantly improved pay and pay equity proposals, after initial proposals failed to meet expectations."

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