I believe that Australia is facing a time bomb if the lack of balance between work and care is not addressed.
I know changes are being considered to the Fair Work Act, and I urge you to support them, particularly for a stronger right to request flexible work, for those with who have dependants to care for.
I support more carers (including care for children, people with illness or disability or the elderly) being able to make formal requests to change their start and finish times, hours of work or their location of work to assist them with their caring responsibilities, and employers should only refuse them on reasonable business grounds.
Improving workplace rights for carers means they can make these requests without having to trade off their terms of employment or conditions.
Individual Flexibility Agreements (IFAs), are not the solution because it is not fair to ask employees to work weekends without being paid penalty rates or give up casual loadings or holidays in order to access the flexibility they desperately need.
Forcing employees with caring responsibilities to accept second class pay and conditions is not the way to deal with modern families and modern employees.
I strongly encourage you to support these laws to improve the national employment standard right to request, but an additional change needs to be made to ensure we can appeal to someone if an employer unreasonably refuses an employee’s request.
I understand it’s not possible for an employer to say ‘yes’ to every request, but it is a problem that if they just say ‘no’ without giving requests serious consideration, then there is nowhere to go to have the employer’s decision reviewed. I think this is unfair.
I’m sure that many employers are already supporting their employees, but I fear that without strong laws to encourage better workplace cultures, many will continue to be treated unfairly.
From my experience, these changes are very important for employees who are carers and do incredibly valuable unpaid work.
So I seek your support for better laws to help them stay employed.