Requesting flexible working arrangements

You have the right to ask your employer to change your work arrangements, place of work, hours or days. Your employer must consider your request but can turn it down if they have a valid reason.

Your rights

You have the right to request flexible working arrangements.

You can ask to change your working arrangements:

  • anytime from your first day of work
  • permanently or for a set time
  • for any purpose or reason — for example, caring for children or older parents, playing sport or working in the community.

Your employer must consider your request in good faith, but they do not have to approve it if there is a good business reason for declining.

Requesting flexible work arrangements

It's good to talk to your employer before you officially make a request.

Your request must be in writing.

Your employer must reply to you as soon as possible, but no later than 1 month after you make the request. This gives them time to work out what the change might mean for their business.

You should:

  • explain how the working arrangement you want could be made to work for both you and your employer
  • mention in your request if you only want to make the change for a short period. If you want to change your working arrangements permanently, it can be a good idea to have a trial period first to iron out any problems
  • keep a copy of the request and note when you sent it to your employer. 

Request for flexible working arrangements checklist

Your request must:

  • be in writing
  • have your name and the date on it
  • show reference to Part 6AA of the Employment Relations Act 2000
  • explain the working arrangement you are seeking and whether you want it to be permanent or for a set period of time
  • state the date that you want the new working arrangement to start — and the date you want the arrangement to end if it's for a set period of time
  • explain, in your opinion, what changes your employer may need to make to their current business arrangements if the request is approved — for example, possible changes to the way the team works together or to the physical set up of the workplace.

Resolving problems

If you are not happy with your employer's decision, try to resolve the problem with them — maybe there's an alternative arrangement that could meet everyone's needs.

You can only make a formal complaint if you think that your employer did not properly follow the process for notifying you of their decision. You cannot make a complaint because your employer declined your request or because you disagree with the reasons they gave.

The process your employer must follow when you have requested a flexible work arrangement is as follows. Your employer must:

  • consider each request fairly, in good faith
  • reply in writing as soon as possible — no later than 1 month after the request is made (this can be extended if you both agree to a trial period after you make the request)
  • only say 'no' for certain reasons — these reasons need to be stated if the application is declined.

If they say 'no' to your request, they must: 

  • state the ground for saying 'no'
  • explain the reasons for that ground.

If you think your employer did not properly notify you of their decision, you can contact us for help.

If we are unable to resolve the complaint, you can refer the matter to mediation.

Contact us


If mediation does not resolve the matter, you can apply to the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) for a decision about whether your employer has properly notified you of their decision.

You must apply to the ERA:

  • within 12 months of the employer’s refusal of the request, or
  • where the request is not responded to, 13 months from the date that the employer received your request.

If the ERA decides that your employer has not complied with the process as set out in the law, it can impose a penalty of up to $2,000 payable by the employer to you.

Employment Relations Authority(external link) 

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