Denial of flexible working arrangement request reversed after union assistance
With the help of our union’s Industrial Services Team, a member will soon return to work on a part-time basis following her maternity leave despite the initial request for such a flexible arrangement being denied by her principal.
The member, a primary school teacher in the Lutheran sector who is currently on maternity leave until the start of Term 4 this year, had written a letter to her principal (with the assistance of our union) requesting that her return to work be on a part-time basis as is her right under the National Employment Standards (NES).
In responding to the request, the principal stated that the member returning to work on a part-time basis would not work as it would be “too disruptive for the students”, especially towards the end of the school year.
The principal instead gave the member two options for her return to work: return to work full-time in Term 4 2016; or, return to work full-time in 2017. Each option clearly denied the member the ability to return to work on a part-time basis.
The principal’s response to the member came despite the fact there were other teachers at the school working part-time and/or in a job-share arrangement.
After receiving the response from her principal, the member contacted our union’s Industrial Services Team for further assistance.
Contact was then made with the principal on the member’s behalf pointing out that the provisions of the NES entitle the member to request part-time work following maternity leave, as well as the employer’s responsibility to give due consideration to such a request and to not dismiss it without sound business grounds.
The correspondence also noted that the principal’s reasoning for denying the member’s request did not appear to satisfy the case for “sound business grounds” and that our union was concerned that the member was being treated less favourably than other employees who had been granted permission to work part-time.
The principal was asked to reconsider her decision to deny the member’s request and informed that the member was happy to discuss options with her.
A subsequent meeting between the principal and the member resulted in the member determining a part-time return to work arrangement that would best suit her and her students, which was then agreed to by the principal.
The member is set to return to work in Term 4 under the part-time arrangement, and she and the principal have also come to an agreement to revisit options for the member to continue to work part-time in 2017.
For advice and assistance regarding your rights and entitlements in returning to work following maternity leave, please contact our Industrial Services team.