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Consult An Employment Lawyer For Issues Regarding Flexible Work hours

By Author: Nicholas
Total Articles: 12

Two brothers worked as painters for a hospital. For eight years, they enjoyed a flexible work arrangement where they reported for work from 6:30 am until 2:30 pm. This work arrangement left them time to pick up their young children from school and bring them home.

The hospital is one of the busiest hospitals in its district and to boost their operational efficiency and to correct a $8.2 million deficit, the hospital administration gave the painters one year’s notice before ordering them to revert to the regular working hours of 7:00 am to 3:30 pm. The hospital administration urged the painters to make alternate arrangements for their children as after the twelve-month period as no further extensions would be granted.The scheme to revert to ordinary work hours was part of the “whole of hospital approach” to improving hospital services. The hospital had a long-standing policy of allowing flexible work arrangements that were mutually beneficial for both the hospital and the employees. Also, the brothers were classified as employed under the Public Health Service Employees Skilled Trades Award that provided that their ordinary hours of work be for eight hours daily, Monday to Friday between 6:00 am and 6:00 pm. Thus, the order to work from 7:00 am- 3:30 pm was allowed under the award.

Near the end of the twelve-month notice period, the brothers asked for a review of their flexible work arrangement. The brothers argued that the request for flexible work hours were a small accommodation which would not impose undue hardship on the hospital, but if their request for flexible working hours was not accommodated, it would impose hardship on their family as they could not afford after-school child care.

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The Union to which the painters belonged then wrote to the hospital on behalf of the painters, notifying them that they had lodged a dispute concerning the issue of the painters’ working hours with the Industrial Relations Commission of New South Wales. The Union asked the Commission for orders to allow the painters to continue working under the flexible work arrangement until their children finished primary school sometime at the end of the school year 2018–2019. The Union argued that forcing the painters to work until 3:30 pm instead of 2:30 pm amounted to discrimination against them as family carers and prevented them achieving and maintaining a work/life balance. Further, the painters had low income and the cost of childcare would put financial pressure on their families. Also, the painters had enjoyed flexible work hours for years without any negative impact on their productivity, efficiency, or work safety.

On the other hand, the hospital argued that it had the right to exercise prerogatives to manage its operations. The return to ordinary hours would improve supervision, communication, and coordination within the entire Engineering Department. Also, the hospital did not act unjustly or unfairly by giving the painters twelve months to make alternate arrangements before imposing the order for them to return to their ordinary work hours.

The Commission found that by requiring the painters to report during ordinary work hours, it was implementing a more efficient and accountable management of maintenance tasks. The hospital extensively consulted with the Union prior to implementing the return to ordinary working hours and there was no award impediment to the change in work hours. The Union was unable to show that the hospital’s requirement to return to ordinary working hours would be unfair, unjust, or unreasonable. The Union’s application was dismissed and the painters were ordered to report for work at 7 am until 3:30 pm beginning January 2017.

Nicholas Marouchak is a writer across several reputed industrial web posts. He writes for many online journals and portals that are related to Perth Employment Lawyers

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