1. Introduction

1.1 This non contractual policy details the procedure for requesting flexible working arrangements. The University supports the principle of flexible working and undertakes that all requests will be considered seriously. While a flexible approach to considering applications is encouraged the University also acknowledges that there will be occasions where it is not possible to agree to requests due to the impact this may have.

1.2 A successful flexible working application will result in a permanent change to the employee’s terms and conditions of employment (unless agreed otherwise). Where a permanent contractual change is agreed the employee does not have an automatic right to revert back to the previous working pattern.

1.3 There may be occasions where a temporary arrangement for flexible working is desired. Where this is the case it should be stated clearly on the application form. Where flexible working is requested for short periods of time informal agreements between an employee and their line manager may be more appropriate following discussion with Human Resources. If short term informal arrangements are extended over longer periods this would normally be subject to formal agreement.

1.4 This policy reflects the University’s commitment to promote equality in all its activities in line with the University’s Equality and Diversity Policy.

2. Scope

2.1 The flexible working arrangements covered by this policy include requests by employees to change the hours they work, to change the times when they are required to work and to change their place of work. These arrangements include part time working, staggered hours, compressed hours, home working, job sharing, term time working, annualised hours and flexible retirement. Definitions of these different flexible working arrangements are detailed in Appendix B.

2.2 This policy does not cover arrangements for flexi time, career breaks and other types of leave.

3. Eligibility

3.1 This policy applies to all employees of the University. In order to make a request staff must have been employed at the University continuously for 26 weeks at the date the application is made.

3.2 A maximum of one application may normally be made within any 12 month period.

4. Application procedure

4.1 Members of staff who meet the eligibility criteria outlined above should apply in writing to their line manager by completing the flexible working request form at Appendix A. A copy of the form should also be forwarded to the relevant College / University Services HR team. Prior to applying members of staff may wish to discuss proposals for flexible working informally with their line manager. Line managers should take care when informally discussing potential flexible working requests not to reject them before they have had the opportunity to consider them fully through a formal request. Before making a request that will result in working fewer hours employees should carefully consider the impact that this will have on their pay, holiday entitlement and other benefits which will be reduced on a pro rata basis. Pension Scheme members may wish to take independent financial advice on the impact of reducing hours on their pension benefits.

4.2 The line manager will arrange to meet with the member of staff within 28 days of receipt of the written application. If the manager intends to approve the request a meeting may not be required, though this may still be helpful to clarify arrangements. The meeting will provide an opportunity to consider the request and explore the desired work pattern in depth, and to discuss how and when it might best be accommodated. It will also provide an opportunity to consider other alternative working patterns should there be operational challenges / issues in accommodating the desired work pattern outlined in the employee’s application. Wherever possible, the discussion should take place in a private place. At the meeting the member of staff may, if they wish, be accompanied by either a Trade Union representative or a work colleague. A Human Resources representative may be present at the meeting.

4.3 Decisions on whether or not a request can be granted will be based on organisational grounds. The line manager should discuss the request with the relevant Head of School / Service / Director of Research Institute / College Secretary who will approve any final decisions. Where a request is agreed a timescale for implementation should be confirmed.

4.4 The line manager should notify Human Resources of the outcome of the meeting within 5 working days so they can formally notify the outcome to the member of staff. Where the request has been successful the line manager / administrator should also complete a manager request for authorisation of the change through the HR / payroll system. Where an application has been refused the line manager should provide a reason for this. The valid reasons are outlined in section 5 below.

4.5 Within 14 days of the meeting Human Resources will write to the member of staff to either advise of the agreement to a new work pattern, the start date and, where appropriate, change to salary; or to provide a clear business reason(s) as to why the application cannot be accepted. Any changes to working pattern represent a permanent change to terms and conditions of employment unless otherwise agreed.

4.6 The above timescales may be extended by mutual agreement, for example to enable further investigation before notifying the member of staff of the final decision, however a decision should not be unduly delayed.

5. Refusal of requests

5.1 All requests should be given careful consideration and applications can only be refused for valid and objective business / operational reasons where it is considered that a change to the employee’s work pattern would impact on the following areas. The following reasons are specified in the Employment Rights Act 1996.

5.2 These are:

  • the burden of additional costs; 
  • a detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand; 
  • an inability to reorganise work among existing staff or recruit additional staff; 
  • a detrimental impact on quality or performance; 
  • insufficiency of work during the periods the employee proposes to work; 
  • planned structural changes.

5.3 Care should be taken when considering an application to ensure that the decision does not discriminate. The reasons outlined above are broad and line managers can obtain advice and guidance with regard to decision making for specific cases from their respective HR team.

6. Withdrawal of applications

6.1 The University will treat an application as withdrawn if the employee has:

  • notified their manager in writing that their application is being withdrawn;
  • failed, without reasonable cause, to attend a meeting or appeal meeting convened under the procedure on more than one occasion; or
  • refused, without reasonable cause, to provide information which the University considers necessary to assess whether the employee’s request to work flexibly should be granted.

6.2 Where an application is withdrawn a new application will not normally be permitted for a period of 12 months.

7. Appeal

7.1 The procedure provides an employee with the right to appeal the decision within 14 days of it being notified to them. The grounds for the appeal should be put in writing to the appropriate HR Manager.

7.2 The appeal will be heard by a senior member of staff nominated by the appropriate VP Head of College / Chief Operating Officer within 14 days of receipt of the appeal. Advice and guidance on the process will be provided by Human Resources. The member of staff may, if they wish, be accompanied by either their Trade Union representative or a work colleague.

7.3 Human Resources will notify the member of staff of the outcome of the appeal in writing within 14 days of the meeting. There is no further right of appeal. This exhausts the University’s procedure.

Flexible Working Appeal Form

8. Timescales

8.1 The procedure above specifies the normal timescale anticipated for the application of the procedure. All requests, including any appeals, should be considered within a period of three months from first receipt, unless agreed otherwise with the employee making the request.