The nature of work and families has changed significantly in the last two decades. 

It is time for our workplace rules to change.


Recent decades have seen profound changes in the Australian workforce. The majority of Australian families rely on two incomes and many employees juggle unpaid caring work with paid work. The struggle to balance work and caring needs is an ongoing and serious challenge.


Both men and women should have access to secure, good quality flexible working arrangements.


However, our workplace rules haven’t kept up with the changing nature of work and family responsibilities and we see now more than ever a work life collision.


Workers currently only have a right to request flexible working arrangements. Employers can refuse and employees have no rights to appeal.


As a result, the right to request has not successfully provided flexibility for working carers and parents in Australian workplaces.


Millions of families have this work life collision: juggling the responsibility for parenting young children and/or caring for ill, disabled or ageing family members. Millions of families have need for better workplace rules.


Our workplaces and rules must recognise this and accommodate the reality faced by millions of workers. 

The Fight To Bring About Change 

The ACTU is running a test case, in the Fair Work Commission (FWC), for a new workplace right for working carers and working parents to temporarily reduce their hours to help them better manage their work and family commitments. 

The Family Friendly Work Arrangements Test Case, to be heard by the FWC in December 2017, is a claim for a new Modern Award right to part-time work/reduced hours to help working parents and working carers better balance their work and family commitments. The claim also includes a right to access personal leave for pre-natal appointments.  

Working carers are employees caring for a person with a disability, mental or physical illness or who is frail/aged, and working parents are employees caring for a child under school age.   

This test case will revisit significant issues related to gender equality, job quality and the intersection of work, care and family in Australia for the first time in more than a decade.   

This Is What Unions Do. 

This is a most important campaign for workers and their families and the IEU is making a significant contribution to the Test Case both in identifying and supporting witness statements and also providing an expert industrial officer to the ACTU to assist with the case. 

But as IEU members are too often aware, improvements to workers’ conditions are only ever won through the collective strength of Union members acting together. 

IEU members’ collective engagement in the upcoming test case for family friendly arrangements will be no exception.  


The ACTU Needs To Hear From IEU Members About Their Experiences As Working Carers And Parents. 

To win, the ACTU needs IEU and other union members to fill out the Modern Workplaces survey about the types of caring responsibilities they have in their life.  

The survey is located at 

It’s important that the ACTU get responses from all types of workers so the FWC understands all people have caring and parenting responsibilities that, from time to time, require flexible working arrangements.


Read More; Balancing Family and Work. Time to Change the Rules