COVID-19 response

If you are looking for the latest legal information relating current Coronavirus laws in New Zealand, check out our new section: Coronavirus and the Law.

Flexible working

Overview of the laws on flexible working

All employees can ask for work flexibility

Employment Relations Act 2000, Part 6AA

All employees have the right to ask their employer for permanent or long-term changes to their working arrangements. This can be about when they do their work (which days or hours) or where they do their work (for example, working from home), or both.

Your employer has to follow a set process when they respond to your request, including replying in writing within a set time. If they don’t follow this process, you can get help from a government labour inspector and, if necessary, go to the Employment Relations Authority.

The law also says your employer can refuse your request only if they can’t “accommodate” the changes you’re asking for – in other words, that they can’t make the changes fit with the business’s operations. However, you can’t legally challenge their decision if you disagree with them about this.

Victims of family violence: Stronger rights for short-term flexibility

Employment Relations Act 2000, Part 6AB

If you’re a victim of family violence you have a special right to ask for short-term flexibility in your work arrangements. Your employer has to follow a set process in responding to your request.

Compared with other employees, you also have stronger rights to make sure your employer makes a fair decision. If your employer refuses your request saying they can’t accommodate the short-term changes you want, and you think their refusal is unreasonable, you can take legal action against them. You can go to a government labour inspector and, if necessary, to the Employment Relations Authority to enforce your rights.

Note: If you’re treated unfairly by your boss because you’re a victim of family violence, you may be able to take legal action against them in the form of a “personal grievance”: see the chapter “Resolving employment problems”.

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