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Rights for Flexible Working Hours

I have been employed by the same company for coming on five years now. I have just had my second child and live a relatively long distance from where I work. On occasion I have worked from home and found being able to work earlier in the morning and later in the evening during breaks from my family duties made me more productive. I want to discuss with my employers the ability of working more flexible hours that suit my busy lifestyle at the moment. What law is there relating to employee work hours?

Thanks in advance,


Hi Sarah

Flexible working arrangements are certainly becoming more common in the workplace and since we are now living in an age of laptops, iPhones and the Cloud it is almost surprising that the standard 9 to 5 workday is still so prevalent. As more and more employees strive to maintain a work/life balance the issue of flexible working arrangements will become an even more important issue in the workplace.

As you have worked for your company for a number of years, your company will probably consider you an employee worth keeping. There is legislation which encourages flexible work hours allowing employees to manage multiple responsibilities at home and at work. Often flexible working arrangements make good business sense as they help keep valuable staff and reduce recruitment costs as well as improving productivity and efficiency as people can work at their most productive hours. Flexible work hours can also stop employees from being caught in traffic and contributing to Auckland’s worsening gridlock issues.

Besides the obvious benefits of encouraging flexibility among employees, there are also statutory obligations under Part 6AA of the Employment Relations (Flexible Working Arrangements) Amendment Act 2007. This section provides certain employees with the “right to request” flexible working arrangements.

Employees and employers have always been able to raise the option of flexible working arrangements at any time and the general duty of good faith that exists in employment relationships means there is a requirement for employers to be responsive and communicative.

However, with the passing of the above act which came into force in 2008, employees now have the ability to submit a formal request for flexible working arrangements. Your employer then has an obligation to respond to this request within a reasonable amount of time, with a ‘duty to consider’ any request made under this right. A formal application process is prescribed in the Act which should be made available upon request.

Once your employer has received a request for flexible working arrangements, they must deal with the request as soon as possible (no later than 3 months), notify the employee whether the request was approved and explain their decision should they refuse the request. There are multiple reasons why a request for flexible hours may be refused such as; detrimental impact on quality/performance, burden of additional costs and inability to reorganise work among existing staff.

As the grounds for refusal are quite broad, an employer is never going to be forced into agreeing to flexible working arrangements. Therefore, you should think of the effect your proposed arrangements may have on the company.

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