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Flexible working policy

  1. Introduction
  2. What is flexible working?
  3. Eligibility
  4. Applications
  5. Appeal process
  6. Appendices

Introduction

The University is committed to providing equality of opportunity and developing work practices and policies that support work-life balance.  The Flexible Working policy has been developed to support flexible working arrangements to help employees achieve, if possible, more balance between their working and non-working lives.  

What is flexible working?

Flexible Working allows employees to vary their working arrangements to a more flexible arrangement.  Employees may request a change in the hours they work, a change in the times they work or request temporarily to work from home.  It is not an automatic right as there may be circumstances when the University is unable to accommodate a desired work pattern.  

It is important that employees understand that an accepted application for flexible working is a permanent change to their contract, except in the case of temporary home working or the need to accommodate a short-term difficulty.  The agreed terms will become part of their contract of employment and cannot be changed until both parties agree otherwise.  Before making such an application, individuals should, therefore, ensure that they have carefully considered which working pattern will best suit all of their needs. These considerations should include: 

  • what the financial implications might be if their working pattern is changed;
  • how the new pattern will effect their individual service performance or the service performance of their School/Unit.

Eligibility

In order to make a request to work flexibly, individuals must satisfy the following criteria in that they must:

  • have been employed by the University for 26 continuous weeks before the date the application is made;
  • have not made another application to work flexibly in the past 12 months (exceptional circumstances may be considered);
  • agree, if they are to work at home, to be contacted at home during defined working hours by telephone and/or email.

Applications

Flexible working requests should be discussed informally with the appropriate Head of School/Unit prior to making a formal application.  

The application process will take no longer than 3 months from the submission of the application, including any Appeal outcome, unless an extension to this is agreed by all parties. 

Formal applications should be made to the Head of School/Unit on the Flexible Working Application Form.  The member of staff will be invited to attend a meeting with the Head of School/Unit and Human Resources to discuss their application within 28 days of receipt of the application, unless the application is approved in writing prior to this date.  This meeting must take place even if the employee is on leave. 

The aim of the meeting is to explore the suggested work pattern in depth, and to discuss whether and, if appropriate, how best it might be accommodated since it may be possible to consider alternative working patterns should there be a problem accommodating the work pattern proposed in the application.

If the employee cannot attend the meeting at the date and time suggested by the Head of School/Unit, the meeting will be postponed to a date and time convenient for both parties within 7 days of the original meeting date.

If an employee, without good reason, fails to attend the rescheduled meeting, a further meeting will be arranged.  If the employee fails to attend this second meeting, without good reason, the request will be treated as withdrawn.

Notification of the outcome of the meeting will be sent by Human Resources within 14 days of the meeting taking place.  If the application is accepted, Human Resources will detail, in writing, the appropriate changes to the terms and conditions of employment and the date they will become effective.  The employee will need to sign one copy of the document to confirm their acceptance of the permanent changes to their contract of employment unless a trial period is agreed. 

The Head of School/Unit may approve the application subject to a trial period of 3 months.  The commencement of the trial period should not coincide with any quieter periods in the School/Unit, as this may not provide an accurate reflection of the potential effect of the new pattern of working.  If at the end of this period, it is deemed that the new pattern is not suitable by either party, the employee will revert to their original working pattern. 

If the application is unsuccessful, the employee will be notified in writing by Human Resources detailing the reasons for the rejection including a sufficient explanation and the details of the appeals procedure should they wish to appeal against the decision taken.

No application will be approved or rejected without consultation with Human Resources.

Flexible working is not an automatic right as there may be circumstances when the University is unable to accommodate a desired work pattern.  A request for Flexible Working may be refused for the following reasons.

  • The burden of additional costs
  • Detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand
  • Inability to recruit additional staff
  • Inability to reorganise work among existing staff
  • Detrimental impact on quality;
  • Detrimental impact on performance
  • Insufficiency of work during the periods the employee proposes to work
  • Planned structural changes

Appeal process

An employee has the right of appeal against a refusal to grant flexible working.  The appeal should be made in writing to the Director of Human Resources within 14 days of being notified of the decision.

The employee will be invited to attend an appeal hearing which will be convened by an appropriate deputy of the Principal.  The panel will also include another Head of School/Unit with no prior involvement.  A member of Human Resources will be in attendance.  The employee’s Head of School/Unit will present to the panel the reasons for refusal to grant flexible working.  If the employee cannot attend the meeting, it will be postponed to a date and time convenient for all parties within 7 days of the original date set.

If an employee, without good reason, fails to attend the rescheduled meeting, a further meeting will be arranged.  If the employee fails to attend this second meeting, without good reason, the appeal will be treated as withdrawn.

The employee has the right to be accompanied by a work colleague or a Trade Union representative during the meeting.

The employee will be notified of the outcome of the appeal meeting within 14 days of the meeting.  This notification will be in writing and will either outline the new terms and conditions with the date they become effective or will sufficiently explain the grounds for the decision to reject the appeal.

Appendices