Check in: The hybrid model one month on - Public Service Association

Check in: The hybrid model one month on

It has now been a few weeks since the Department of Education moved into the hybrid working model phase of the reopening of corporate offices. This follows what was a lengthy period of working mostly from home for many employees. Staff may now have been advised by their managers of a requirement to be in the office, and the amount of time required will vary based on their role and the operational needs of the team. Employees should have requested flexible work by lodging a Flexible Working request to have the pattern of working that applies to them formalised.

Work-life balance, service delivery and team culture

Hybrid working sees a combination of staff who predominantly work remotely, those who predominantly work in the office and those who split their time between both. Guided by the Flexible Working Arrangements for Corporate Employees Policy there is no maximum amount of time employees can work from home. Managers, in consultation with their teams, are responsible for determining an appropriate ratio of office-based and work-from-home time. The mix should consider service delivery levels, the team’s culture and work-life balance needs, and ensure everyone has regular connection and communication. Managers must always consult with their team, give reasonable notice and take into consideration the ‘flexible work principles’.

The Department has assured the PSA of a commitment to supporting a hybrid workplace and when applied correctly the arrangements should empower teams to adapt flexible work practices to fit with operational requirements, and allow staff to balance their professional and personal lives. Managers have been advised of the need to have read the department’s flexible work principles before approving a flexible work request.

Consultation: a fair balance between the office and home

If your manager cannot accommodate your request for flexible work, they should first discuss with you and attempt to come to a solution that works for them, the team and you. If you cannot arrive at a solution together and your request is rejected, you must be provided with a reasonable and specific operational reason why and this should be provided in writing.

It is not unreasonable to be expected to work in the office for a few days each week. However, arbitrary decisions that don’t take into account members’ needs, or are made without consultation and a fair assessment of each person’s individual circumstances are not OK.

Reasons for declining a request for a flexible work arrangement must be based on business needs, and be objectively justifiable. Managers must be able to answer the question, “if not, why not?” It is not sufficient for a manager to say the proposed flexible work arrangement does not meet operational requirements without providing reasons why. If you are not satisfied with your manager’s reasons for denying your request, you can ask the decision be reviewed by their manager.

What to do if you have followed these steps and there is still no resolution

PSA members who have experienced issues with the approval of their flexible work request can seek further support from their union. We can provide advice on your request as well as raise the issue further on a collective basis. Members should first ensure you are familiar with the multitude of resources on the intranet around flexible working and that you have followed the Department’s processes for applying for flexible work.

Once you have followed the steps above and there are remaining issues that have not been addressed, make sure obtain the reason for the decline in writing from them and then contact the PSA for further advice by calling 1300 772 679 or emailing your concerns and any reasons for declined request to .

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