Alternative work arrangements

Published 27 March 2020 | Updated 8 April 2021

Many employees' work arrangements have changed because of the impacts of coronavirus. These changes include more people working from home as well as changes to rosters, hours of work or duties.

We encourage employees and employers to work together to find the best solution for both their workplaces and staff.

Temporary changes to awards and agreements

A number of unions and employer associations have applied to the Fair Work Commission to increase award flexibility and to vary enterprise agreements, to help manage the impacts of coronavirus.

This may affect how and when employers and employees can make alternative working arrangements.

For a list of determinations and to see if your award is affected go to Changes to workplace laws during coronavirus.

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Working from home

How to make working from home arrangements

Working from home arrangements are usually agreed between an employer and employee to meet both their needs. Employers and employees should work together to find the best solution for both the workplace and staff when managing the impacts of coronavirus.

Employees have the right to request flexible work arrangements in certain circumstances. A flexible work arrangement can include the employee working from home. For more information see Flexible working arrangements.

Employers who want their employees to work from home should check if there are any rules about employees working from home in their:

  • enterprise agreement
  • award
  • employment contracts
  • workplace policies.

Employers and employees should also check any current enforceable government directions that affect whether employees can work at the workplace or other locations. For more information see List of enforceable government directions during coronavirus.

Workplace health and safety at home

Employers should consider whether an employee’s home is suitable for the type of work they’ll be doing. Workplace health and safety laws still apply when an employee is working from home.

For more information see Safe Work Australia  Working from home external-icon.png.

Recording hours of work at home

Employers need to make and keep certain records, including an employee’s hours of work in some circumstances. This continues to apply when employees work from home. Employers should consider how employees will record their hours in a way that meets the employer's record-keeping obligations.

Employees need to record their hours of work in some circumstances, for example, annual wage arrangements under some awards. This continues to apply when they work from home. Employers and employees are encouraged to discuss how this should happen.

More information:

When working from home isn't possible

For some workplaces, working from home arrangements aren’t possible. When employees need to attend the workplace to work, it’s important that employers consider their workplace health and safety obligations during coronavirus.

For more information see Health and safety in the workplace.

Employees who may be experiencing family and domestic violence

For some employees, working from home may not be a safe option because they may be experiencing family and domestic violence. In this situation, there may be other arrangements the employer and employee can make.

Under the Fair Work Act, employees dealing with the impact of family and domestic violence can:

  • take unpaid family and domestic violence leave
  • request flexible working arrangements
  • take paid or unpaid sick or carer’s leave, in certain circumstances.

For more information see Family and domestic violence leave.

Resources and support services

Employers can find information about supporting employees experiencing family and domestic violence, including a list of support services, in our Employer Guide to Family and Domestic Violence.

If you or someone you know is impacted by family or domestic violence, contact 1800 RESPECT external-icon.png - the national counselling service for family and domestic violence.

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Resources for flexible working arrangements

As long as employees still receive their entitlements, employers and employees can negotiate ways to make their work arrangements more flexible.

Flexibility in the workplace allows employers and employees to make arrangements about working conditions that suit them. This can help both employers and employees manage the impacts of coronavirus. It can also help employers improve their business’s productivity.

We have information and resources to help you:

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