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Guidance on workplace flexibility obligations and rights

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Optometry Australia has launched three new flexible workplace practice notes – guides that members have been asking us to develop so that you understand your obligations and rights in today’s ever evolving workplace environment.

These complement the webinar on flexible working in optometry that Optometry Australia recently hosted.

Work flexibility is essentially about an employee and an employer making agreed changes to when, where and how a person will work to better meet the individual’s needs and the needs of the business.

Work flexibility is becoming an increasingly important requirement to attract and retain high-quality employees. Employees also have a legal obligation to consider flexibility if requested by staff members who meet specific criteria.

There are multiple forms of flexible work that can be considered, including:

  • Flexible patterns of work e.g. agreed days of work, start and finish times, job share
  • Flexible hours of work i.e. how many agreed hours to be worked, flexitime, compressed weeks, job share
  • Flexible location of work, e.g. working remotely
  • Flexible leave options i.e. parental leave, time-in-lieu, sabbaticals

And there is the option to pursue ‘formal’ or ‘informal’/ad hoc approaches to flexible working.

These opportunities and obligations as well as tips for negotiation and managing flexible work arrangements are explained in the three new practice notes.

  • Work flexibility for owners and managers – provides insights into creating a flexible workplace environment within an optometry practice as well as owners and managers rights and obligations as an employer. This practice note also provides employers with tips for making flexible work arrangements – recognising that business owners have an obligation to ensure that patient needs are being met and that the business remains viable. 
  • Work flexibility for employees – explores how employee optometrists can ask their employer to consider providing more flexible work conditions. Whilst this can be daunting, this practice note provides tips and insights into how to start this conversation and be prepared to respond to employer concerns.
  • Flexible working for optometrists – case studies – three actual case studies are provided that explore an optometrist working part-time, another who has a flexible work pattern and the third optometrist who works four days a week across three roles. These case studies highlight how the optometrist negotiated these outcomes and the benefits and challenges of these flexible working arrangements.

Members may contact Optometry Australia on 03 9696 8500 or their state organisation if they would like any further information. Members also have the option of contacting Industry Legal Group (ILG) on 1300 101 391. ILG is staffed by legal practitioners and workplace relations consultants with specific knowledge of the optometry profession and all members – both employers and employees – can access this service with the initial consultation provided free of charge.

Members are also welcome to view Optometry Australia’s Flexible Workplace webcast which was held in February. This is available from on the CPD Resources page.

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