Understanding the difference between reasonable adjustments and flexible work
These two types of arrangements are protected by law in Victoria.
As an employer, you should understand your legal obligations and consider how to embed reasonable adjustments and flexibility as part of business as usual.
As an employee, you may have the right to these adjustments and arrangements.
Understanding the two types of work requests
Reasonable adjustments and flexible work arrangements allow all employees to work safely and productively.
The benefits of both are significant. They improve productivity, profitability, safety, and customer relations.
Watch Julia and Sam below as they provide a simple overview and examples of both types of work requests (two minutes).
What are reasonable adjustments?
These are changes to work environments or arrangements that allow people with disability to work safely and productively.
They can include:
- IT equipment and software
- adjustable lighting
- noise-cancelling headphones
- equipment or modifications for physical accessibility
- changes to instructions
- written resources
- flexible work schedules.
Who can request reasonable adjustments?
Under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, employers are required to make reasonable adjustments for a person with disability. Disability can include:
- physical, psychological, or neurological disease or disorder
- illness, whether temporary or permanent
- injury, including work-related injuries.
What are flexible work arrangements?
These can include changes to working hours, the way someone works or the place they work.
- working from home
- working part-time
- job sharing
- starting or finishing work earlier or later.
For people with disability, a flexible work arrangement may be a type of reasonable adjustment. In this case, your employer should manage your request through a reasonable adjustment process.
Who can request flexible work arrangements?
Under Victorian law, an employer must approve reasonable requests for flexible work arrangements from parents and carers (so long as the arrangements are to meet their responsibilities as a parent or carer).
Whether the arrangements are reasonable will depend on many things, including:
- the employee and the employer’s circumstances
- the nature of the role.
Under Australian law (the Fair Work Act), other types of employees are also protected and have a right to request flexible working arrangements.
How we can help
If your employer has refused to make a reasonable adjustment or a reasonable flexible work request, you can make a complaint to us. If you wish, someone else can make a complaint for you.
We can also give you information about your rights.
Find out how you can contact us.
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Employee and workplace rights
All employees deserve to be treated fairly and with respect. Employers’ responsibilities apply across all stages of employment.
Victoria has laws to protect people with disability from discrimination and to ensure that everyone can contribute meaningfully to society.