Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Work and Life

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Flexible work practices provide employees with more flexible and different employment arrangements.

Flexible work practices aim for the best possible match between the interests of your organisation to deliver services to the community and your interests as an individual employee.

The benefits of flexibility

Cheap University Papers on Work and Life

For employees

· helps you meet responsibilities at both work and home,

· helps you keep your desired career and status,

· helps you maintain an income while meeting family responsibilities, and

· helps you enjoy the benefits of both work and personal life.

For agencies

· better meets client needs through offering services at times to suit clients,

· increases ability to attract and retain a better qualified, more diverse workforce including those who cannot work full time or within standard hours,

· reduces recruitment and training costs by retaining staff,

· allows greater variety in work organisation and job design,

· reduces absenteeism, and

· encourages more committed, motivated employees.

What are your options?

Part-time work

Working, on a continuing basis, for less than the full-time weekly hours of the job at mutually agreed times. For example

· full days per week,

· 5 x ½ days per week, or

· 8 days over four weeks.

See also the brochure Part-time work what you need to know.

Job sharing

Voluntarily sharing the duties and responsibilities of one job amongst part-time employees and/or full-time employees. This can be on a continuous basis or for a specified period.

Part-time leave

Leave taken by full-time employees to work part-time for a specified period. For example

· part-time leave without pay,

· part-time maternity leave, or

· part-time extended leave.

Working occasionally from home

A temporary or occasional arrangement which allows work commitments to be met.

Leave for family and community care responsibilities

Short-term leave of a number of hours or days to meet family or community needs. This can be available through paid family and community service leave, use of recreational leave or leave without pay.

Flexible working hours

The flexible working hours agreement in the award allows for flexibility in working hours beyond standard hours. For more flexibility in attendance patterns, enterprise agreements may provide for

· shortened core time,

· expanded band width, and/or

· increasing the number of hours which can be accrued and the number of flex days available.

Part year employment

An ongoing arrangement for leave without pay for a specific length of time for part of the year, such as school holidays.

For the convenience of staff, pay arrangements may be made over the full 1 months to allow a steady income throughout the year.

Career breaks

Leave without pay for an extended specified period with the right to return to a position at the same level.

For example

· full-time dependent care for an extended period,

· full-time studies, or

· overseas travel.

Variable year work

Planned unpaid leave taken for a year after a number of years of work.

Equal employment opportunity

Staff on flexible arrangements need to have equal opportunity with other staff for

· effective supervision,

· training and development opportunities,

· participation in project teams,

· acting in higher duties,

· access to all positions except those which have proved to be unsuitable to perform on a flexible basis,

· promotion to management positions,

· a good standard of accommodation and equipment,

· participation in office discussions and decision-making according to level of responsibility, and

· access to information, for example planned organisational changes, mediation and grievance procedures.


To achieve and maintain a competitive edge in business it is essential to attain the best results from employees. Flexible work practices can assist in this process by supporting employees with managing their work and family responsibilities. Flexible work practices which assist employees with family responsibilities can increase productivity and reduce costs as employers interests and employees responsibilities are matched.

Balancing work and caring responsibilities

Many Australian workers have caring responsibilities which they balance with their working lives.

The main focus of care and dependency has tended to revolve around child care issues. However, many workers have responsibilities which extend across generations or encompass caring for disabled persons. These carers provide a significant economic and social contribution to the health and community care systems and to society in general.

Declining birth rates and longer life expectancies have meant an upward shift in the overall age of the population. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has projected that by the year 01, there will be .7 million people in NSW in the 55 years and over age group, representing 1% of the population. People aged 65 years and over will account for a greater proportion of the dependent population (ABS Cat. No. 446.1).

A major repercussion of this continuing trend is that families will have even greater responsibilities for the care and support of older relatives. The care of aged and disabled relatives will therefore assume increasing importance in the work and family agenda.

Who are the carers and the cared for?

The diversity of Australian families is reflected in the range of workers caring responsibilities - for children, people with disabilities, older relatives, partners (including same sex partners) and members of extended family structures. Workers responses to the demands of caring also varies across the community as a result of cultural and other factors.

Women tend to assume the greater share of caring responsibilities, and are more likely than men to reduce or leave their paid employment in order to fulfill these responsibilities. The carers inability to participate in paid employment may add financial pressure to the other pressures associated with caring.

The ABS reported in 14 that in Australia

§ 1. million people provided unpaid home care assistance to relatives or friends. 70% of these people were also in paid employment

§ 58% of women who were parents and carers were in the labour force, compared with 8% of men

§ about 70,000 employed people provided personal care/home help to family members with a disability or long term illness.

(ABS Cat No. 44.0)

A 1 study by the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) found that among the study group

§ 14% of employees with parents or parents in law, had to take time off to look after them

§ 17% of employees had to take time off to look after a spouse or partner

§ 0% of employees missed work to look after someone other than a child.

A 1 ABS survey of families found that, of the 1.5 million Australians aged 15 years or older, 6% had received care because of a disability, long-term illness or old age in the preceding 6 months. In about 60% of these cases, family members were the main providers of care, and the carers were predominantly female. 7% of the care recipients lived in the same household as their carer. In only about 5% of cases the care was provided by someone other than a family member, such as a government or voluntary service.

(ABS Cat. No. 4418.0)

Caring and flexible work arrangements

Many employed carers opt to use flexible working arrangements to balance their work and caring responsibilities. A number of factors affect the usage of these arrangements, including gender, family structure and the type of care provided.

The ABS found in a 14 survey that the usage pattern of flexible work arrangements differed for fathers and mothers in couple families

§ mothers were three times more likely to use flexible working arrangements to care for sick children than fathers

§ about one quarter of both fathers and mothers worked at home to take care of sick children

§ 41% of mothers and % of fathers chose permanent part time work so they could care for children

§ 1% of fathers and 10% of mothers worked shift work so they could care for their children.

The survey also found that use of flexible working hours was the most popular choice among both women and men in couple families for attending to caring responsibilities. To a lesser extent, these carers used long service or recreation leave (1% of women and 7% of men) and sick leave (% of women and 7% of men).

(ABS Cat No. 44.0)

The 1 AIFS study found that 7% of the permanent employees and % of casual and contract employees used flexible work arrangements for caring purposes. Employees involved in the study identified workplace flexibilities which would assist them in meeting their work and caring responsibilities. 44% of employees nominated child care and others nominated a range of flexibilities around the organisation of work, including

§ flexible working hours (15%)

§ change to, or elimination of shifts (8%)

§ part time work or job sharing (6%)

§ shorter working hours (6%)

§ improved leave policies (17%).

Caring for children

In June 1, some type of flexible working arrangements were used by nearly 50% of couple families in NSW who had children under 1 years of age and at least one parent working, to balance work and caring for children.

(ABS Cat. No. 4107.1)

The needs of sick children can make it more difficult for working parents to balance their work and caring responsibilities. In June 1, there were 151,700 families in NSW who reported having sick children at some time in the preceding 6 months. Over 50% of these families used arrangements other than time off work to care for sick children. Of those families which used such alternative arrangements, almost 60% relied on care by relatives, 17% relied on some other carer, over 10% took the sick child to work. Other arrangements included working from home.

(ABS Cat. 4107.1)

The AIFS reported in its 1 survey that

§ 46% of parents with children have to take time off to look after sick children each year, with mothers being more likely to take time off work than fathers

§ the average time taken off work to care for sick children is about .8 days per year for mothers, and .5 days per year for fathers

§ 8% of sick children are at home alone.

Carers and work

Often when people think of caring responsibilities, they think of parents with young children. However, under new anti-discrimination legislation, caring responsibilities extend further to immediate family, guardians and those with parental responsibility for a child. For example it includes caring for a parent, a child, a foster child, spouse, defacto partner, same-sex partner, grandchild, grandparent, sibling or other family member in need of the particular persons care and support.

In many cases, family members need care and support because they are frail, or have a disability, chronic illness or mental illness. People who provide these supports are referred to here as carers.

In NSW, 1% of the population, or almost 800,000 people, are carers. In fact, most people will either need care or provide care at some stage in their lives.

Carers help family members with personal care, health care, communication, housework, meal preparation, mobility, paperwork, property maintenance, social needs and transport.

Most carers (5%) combine their caring role with paid work, and the majority of employed carers work full time (6%).

The proportion of employees with care responsibilities has grown, and will continue to do so, due to a number of factors. These include the ageing of the population, the growing preference of women to be in paid work and government policies that support people to live in the community.

Employers can respond to these trends by supporting employees with caring responsibilities. In addition, the NSW Government has introduced legislation that makes it unlawful to discriminate against such employees. Employers should reasonably accommodate the caring responsibilities of employees.

Juggling the competing demands of work and caring can be stressful for employees, but there is good evidence that the right supports in the workplace can make a real difference for the employee, and have benefits for the employer as well. For employers, apart from fulfilling their legal responsibilities, the benefits of supporting carers include

ï‚· Reduced costs through less employee turnover, lower absenteeism and sickness, and higher rates of return on investment in trained and experienced employees;

ï‚· Improved labour flexibility through the availability of a larger, more diverse labour pool, improved access to scarce skills, and a better ability to meet peaks in workload;

ï‚· Enhanced motivation of employees, including improved morale, greater staff loyalty and reduced levels of employee stress;

ï‚· Improved business performance; and

ï‚· Good corporate citizenship and enhanced corporate image.

Every caring situation is different. The kinds of assistance that carers provide to their family member will vary depending on factors such as the age of the person receiving care, the nature of their disability or illness, the length of time they have needed support, whether or not they live in the same household, cultural background, and the community supports that they receive.

Carers needs may be very simple, such as the ability to leave work on time, or access to a telephone so that they can check on the person they support. Some carers will benefit from ongoing flexible arrangements, while others will need them on a temporary or sporadic basis. Also, peoples circumstances and needs may change over time.

A full definition of who is covered by this legislation is available from the Anti-Discrimination Board.

Creating a carer-friendly workplace

It is vital that employers are aware of their obligations to carers and other people with family responsibilities under the Anti-Discrimination (Carers Responsibilities) Act 000 (NSW). This information is available from the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board (see key contact numbers below).

There is a wide range of practical strategies that employers can use to support their employees with caring responsibilities.

When planning how your workplace can better support these employees, start by asking them what they think would help them, and involve them in making decisions about what provisions would be most helpful.

Provisions work best when they are built into the organisations broader activities and goals.

The following strategies have been shown to be effective in helping employees balance their work and care responsibilities

ï‚· Build a supportive culture that recognises that employees have care responsibilities and seeks to accommodate them.

ï‚· Implement flexible work arrangements, such as flexitime, part time work, job-sharing, flexible rostering, and making time up later.

ï‚· Implement leave provisions such as paid family, personal or carers leave, allow flexible use of recreation leave and offer unpaid leave for single days or block periods.

ï‚· Allow working from home on a temporary or long-term basis.

ï‚· Inform employees of their entitlements and options.

ï‚· Inform supervisors of employees entitlements and options, and encourage them to promote flexibility.

ï‚· Provide information on community services that can assist carers and the person they support. This could be done though an identified contact person, a lunchtime seminar, staff newsletters and/or a bulletin board.

ï‚· Arrange access to free or subsidised counselling services.

ï‚· Assist employees with the cost of community services.

ï‚· Provide access to facilities such as a room where carers can leave the person they support in between attending an appointment and finishing work.

ï‚· Ensure that carers have access to a telephone so that they can check that all is well at home.

What some people say

My boss and the other staff are very supportive. I am able to arrive late or leave early when necessary with their full support. They know Ill make up the time later.

Ann, office assistant

I thought Id have to leave my job, but when I explained my situation to my supervisor he was great. Together we worked out the flexible arrangements I need. Its working really well. Trish, bank officer Balancing Work and Life is one of our corporate values. Helping our employees to meet their caring responsibilities fosters commitment to the organisation and helps us to retain and attract valued employees.

David Smith, General Manager

Human Resources, NRMA Insurance Group

Work and families


The labour market has changed significantly in recent times. The increasing number of women participating in the labour force, the rise in part time and casual employment and higher levels and longer durations of unemployment are some of the key trends to have a dramatic impact on Australian families.

The move away from the traditional `male breadwinner/female carer model of family life means that workers, and women workers in particular, are more likely than ever before to be balancing family responsibilities with paid work. Work and family issues have therefore become a priority on the industrial relations agenda.

The successful management of work and family responsibilities is a key issue for both employers and employees. There is evidence to suggest that businesses which ensure that their workplaces are family-friendly can reap the benefits of improved productivity and profitability. However, where employees experience conflict between work and family demands, this can translate into higher rates of absenteeism and staff turnover and low employee morale.

Just as conflict between work and family responsibilities can cause stress in families, unemployment in families imposes its own burdens. Unemployment has a direct impact not only on the unemployed person but also on the wellbeing of children and other dependents in the family.

This information aims to provide a `snap shot of Australian families in the labour market context.

Families and employment

In Australia in August 15

§ among couple families with dependants

- 5% (1,750,400 families) had one or both partners in the labour force

- 6% (1,17,000 families) had both partners in the labour force

- % had the male partner in the labour force

- 64% had the female partner in the labour force

§ among single parent families

- 85% (564,400 families) had a female parent

- 4% had a parent who was not in the labour force

- 44% (1,00) had an employed parent

- 7% had an unemployed parent

§ 46% of mothers with children aged 0 to 4 years were in the labour force, compared with 6% of fathers

§ almost 450,000 parents with children aged 4 years and under were not in the labour force, but wanted a job

§ there were 48,400 families with one or both partners unemployed.

(ABS Catalogue No. 60.0)

In Australia in 14, . million children aged 0 to 4 years lived in a family with both parents or the single parent employed.

(ABS Catalogue No. 44.0)

In NSW in October 14, approximately 0% of the work force had children under 1 years of age.

(ABS Cat. no. 4107.1)

Couple families

In NSW at June 1, couple families represented more than 80% of families. Just over half of these families had dependants.

The employment patterns of couple families with dependants in NSW differs significantly from those families without dependants. In couple families with dependents, 5% had both partners employed and 6% had one partner employed. In total, 88% percent of these families had one or both partners employed, while in couple families without dependants, only 56% had one or both partners employed. In couple families, either with or without dependants, where there was only one partner employed it was usually the male partner (88%) rather than the female partner (1%).

(ABS Cat no 446.1)

Single parent families

In New South Wales in 14

§ % of all families were single parent families

§ only 5% of single mothers were in the labour force, compared to 71% of single fathers

§ 6% of single mothers were employed full time, compared to 4% of single fathers

§ only 44% of single mothers with dependent children were employed, compared to 55% of married mothers with dependent children. However, full time employment levels for both groups were about the same (approximately 5%).

(ABS Cat. no. 446.1)

Families and unemployment

In NSW in the period June 18 - June 1

§ the number of couple families with one or both partners unemployed increased from 65,00 to 108,500

§ the number of single parent families with the parent unemployed more than doubled between 18 and 1, reaching 1,500 in June 1

§ the number of couple families with dependent children where both partners were unemployed nearly doubled between June 18 and June 1, when the figure reached 7,500. This increase was comparable to the increase in unemployment for single families

§ the number of families with no dependents where neither partner was employed increased from 4% to 6%, to 6,000.

(ABS Cat no 446.1)

Flexible Work Practices


To achieve and maintain a competitive edge in business it is essential to attain the best results from employees. Flexible work practices can assist in this process by supporting employees with managing their work and family responsibilities. Flexible work practices which assist employees with family responsibilities can increase productivity and reduce costs as employers interests and employees responsibilities are matched.

This section outlines the benefits of implementing flexible work practices and indicates the range of practices available. A list of steps is provided to assist in the process of implementing flexible work practices.

Benefits of Flexible Work Practices

Flexible work practices enable employees to work productively while meeting their family responsibilities. It allows employees choice and versatility in ordering their lives.

The results of a family-friendly workplace can include

§ a reduction in employee absenteeism, lateness and stress

§ greater availability in the workplace for overtime, travel, shift work and training

§ increased employee motivation and commitment to the workplace.

These improvements can translate into benefits for the business in the form of

§ increased employee productivity

§ reductions in recruitment and training costs as staff retention is increased

§ improvements in attendance rates and reduced sick leave costs

§ maintenance and enhancement of workplace skill levels

§ a motivated workplace with loyal, diligent and enthusiastic employees

§ ability to attract skilled, efficient labour encompassing a diverse range of workers

§ compliance with industrial and anti-discrimination legislation.

What are Flexible Work Practices?

Flexible work practices are patterns of work that allow organisations to operate more effectively. They can assist employees in effectively managing work and family care responsibilities.

The main examples of flexible work practices are

§ Flexible working hours

§ Part time work

§ Job sharing

§ Career break schemes

§ Working at home

§ Part year employment

§ Family leave

1 Flexible working hours

Flexible working hours allow employees to work an agreed number of hours spread over a set period of time. Some awards and enterprise agreements allow employees to accrue hours, take time off in lieu for overtime worked, and accumulate rostered days off as part of their flexible work arrangements. A personal/carers leave provision is now an entitlement for all NSW award-covered employees allowing current and accrued sick leave to be used to care for a sick dependant.

Part time work

Part time work provides the opportunity to work fewer than the full time ordinary hours. It provides employment opportunities to employees for whom full time work is not suitable, with the benefit of continuity of employment and pro rata accrual of benefits.

Job sharing

Job sharing is a voluntary arrangement in which one full time permanent job is shared between two employees, each working part time on a permanent basis.

4 Career break schemes

Career break schemes provide for longer periods of unpaid absence from work. Employers may allow an employee to take a career break for a fixed period of up to several years. Reasons that employees might take a career break include full time child rearing or dependant care, an extended overseas trip or for full time study.

5 Working at home

Home-based work arrangements, such as telecommuting, enable employees to spend part or all of their working time at home, on a temporary or permanent basis. Contact with the employer can be maintained via telephone, modem, facsimile or regular face-to-face meetings in the workplace.

6 Part year employment

Part year employment allows the employee to take a number of weeks of unpaid leave in addition to standard holiday or long service leave. It is most useful for employees who wish to spread their annual leave entitlements to match school holidays.

7 Family leave

Short-term leave to allow employees to meet family and community service responsibilities may be provided, for part of a day, a day, or for a number of days. Employers and employees can negotiate additional entitlements through enterprise agreements. Under the Industrial Relations Act 16 employees are already entitled to parental leave, including maternity, paternity or adoption leave. NSW award-covered employees can access sick leave entitlements to care for a sick dependant.


Southern Cross University is committed to developing a University culture which supports staff with diverse needs. In the rapidly changing world of work women now comprise slightly greater than 50% of the workforce, and this change to the structure of family life has brought with it the need for considerable flexibility in the organisation of working time.

In the 10s, fewer than 5 percent of Australian families fit the traditional image of a dual parent family with a male breadwinner and female responsible for domestic matters. Around 60 percent of all families with dependant children have both parents working. Diversity is now a permanent and dynamic feature of Australian families and workplaces.

Other factors apart from work and family matters have also led to the rise and rise of more flexible employment practices. Technological change has meant that regular periods of career development and upskilling are necessary for many workers, who may require reduced working weeks for a period of time in order to accommodate study. People with chronic health problems and disabilities are another group for whom flexibility of work practice has allowed many opportunities in employment.

I encourage all staff to consider how they can create a more flexible, family-friendly environment in our workplace. In this way we will continue to attract and retain top quality staff who are committed to our University.

January 18

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The Framework for Change

The University Plan

One of the major priorities listed in the University Plan is to develop strategies to improve the quality, depth and diversity of academic staff. The Plan also cites a number of pertinent values, ie including a caring attitude manifested in a well-developed nurturing response to others, and a sense of justice and fairness, involving a commitment to equity and access. The introduction of flexible working time arrangements will assist the University to achieve these staffing goals.

University Policy

In November 16 University Council approved a Family and Work policy to facilitate a more flexible working environment which supported the needs of workers with family responsibilities. The 17 enterprise agreements for general and academic staff introduced a deferred salary arrangement to enable staff to negotiate variable year employment.

ILO Convention

In March 10 the Australian Government ratified International Labor Organisation (ILO) Convention No 156 - Workers with Family Responsibilities. Article of the Convention provides that parties to it should make it an aim of national policy to enable workers with family responsibilities to engage in employment without being subject to discrimination and as far as possible without conflict between their employment and their family responsibilities.


The federal Workplace Relations Act 16 requires the Australian Industrial Relations Commission to take account of the principles embodied in the ILO Convention. This means that employers should consider the needs of workers with family responsibilities and develop work practices which provide mutual advantages to both parties.

In addition, the University is bound by the federal Sex Discrimination Act (184) and the Affirmative Action (Equal Opportunity for Women) Act (186) which have been amended to include family responsibilities as grounds under which discrimination is unlawful.

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What Are Flexible Work Practices?

Flexible work practices include various types of work arrangements that are different from the to 5, 5-day week model of working hours. The Vice Chancellors introduction to this booklet explains that the world of work has altered significantly, and as a result the ways that we work are also changing.

The types of flexible work practices now existing in many public and private sector organisations include

permanent fractional work

temporary variation to level of appointment


career break schemes

part-year employment with or without deferred salary

short absences from work.

In considering requests from employees to change to a more flexible work schedule, the University will take account of the requirements of the workplace, and will approve such requests if it is determined that the workplace will not be adversely affected.

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Training for Managers and Supervisors

The Equity Office will conduct workshops for managers and supervisors entitled Managing Flexible Work Practices. These workshops will provide opportunities for the identification of problems and the exploration of solutions to maintaining service delivery while meeting employee requirements for flexible working hours and arrangements.

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Principles of Flexible Work Practices

These principles apply to various types of fractional work offered by the University (ie fractional work, job sharing), part-year employment, variable-year employment and career breaks.

Status and Support Fractional employees are entitled to the same status, managerial commitment and University support as full-time employees.

Job Design The principles of good job design should be adhered to for all jobs, whether fractional or full-time. Fractional work should be designed so that the workload is commensurate with the number of hours worked, offers varied tasks and involves skill development.

Developmental Opportunities Fractional employees are eligible for the same developmental opportunities which are available to full-time employees eg. study time, job rotation, programs, special projects and training, with appropriate consideration as to location, duration and timing.

Relieving Allowance Employees who work fractional hours should be regarded as available to perform higher duties; the employee may decline if a change of work pattern is involved, but it should not be assumed that the employee will not be available.

Good Management Practice The duration of work periods and total hours worked should be sufficient to incorporate sound management practices which promote participation, development, training and promotional opportunities.

Agreement Fractional work may be initiated by employees or employers. Participation is by agreement.

Pro-rata Entitlements Fractional work attracts similar entitlements to full-time work, on a pro rata basis. Staff are advised to carefully consider the impact on Superannuation benefits if they are seeking to reduce their workhours.

Participation Opportunity to participate in activities such as employee meetings and other employee networking activities is important if fractional employees are to make their full contribution to the University. Fractional employees need to be consulted along with full-time employees on any proposed changes in the workplace.

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