Flexible Working Policy

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1 Flexible Working Policy Originator Katie Davis Personnel Adviser Lead Director Janet King, Director and Personnel and Facilities Version number 3 Implementation date 2004 Ratified by USC October 2013 Review date July 2013 Date of next review July

2 POLICY AND PROCEDURE ON FLEXIBLE WORKING SECTION A- POLICY ON FLEXIBLE WORKING 1.0 INTRODUCTION AND PURPOSE The Trust recognises the difficulties that may be faced by individual employees in terms of balancing both domestic and work responsibilities. The Trust is committed to improve the recruitment, retention and motivation of its employees and in this respect it aims to assist them in balancing their work and home responsibilities. 2.0 SCOPE This document is intended to encourage flexibility by building on existing arrangements and extending those principles to other possible methods of working, which managers and employees might consider. This policy should be read in conjunction with the Trust s Personnel Policies. The specific policies that should be referred to are as follows: Recruitment and Selection Policy Equality and Diversity Policy Job Sharing Policy Career Break Scheme Maternity and Adoption Leave Policy Special Leave for Domestic, Personal and Family Reasons Policy Working Time Regulations Policy Retirement Policy These policies are available on the Trust Intranet under Personnel Policies. 3.0 GENERAL PRINCIPLES 3.1 This policy may be applied to all employees who have 26 weeks or more service with the Trust. This extends the provisions of the Work and Families Act 2006 (see 3.2). However an employee who meets the statutory requirement in 3.2 will be given priority in their request for flexible working over other employees. 3.2 The Work and Families Act 2006 extended previous arrangements to give employees who have been employed by the Trust for 26 weeks or more (and have not made an application to work flexibly during the past 12 months) the right to request flexible working in 2 circumstances: Or In order to care for a child who, at the time of application, is under 17 (under 18 if disabled) (the employee must have parental responsibility for this child) If the employee is a relative of a person who is in need of care. (a relative for this purpose covers parents, parents-in-law, adult child, adopted adult child, siblings (including those who are in-laws), uncles, aunts, grandparents or step relatives) 2

3 3.3 While flexibility is encouraged and will be supported no employee has an automatic entitlement to flexible working. This policy sets out a framework for introducing flexible working on a mutually agreed basis. (See section 5). 3.4 Flexible working arrangements must be reciprocal and beneficial to both the individual and the Trust and ensure that service delivery and quality standards including health and safety and legislative requirements are not compromised. 3.5 In line with the Trust s Policy on Equality and Diversity any flexible working arrangement must be fair and equitable to all employees across the Trust and within the relevant workgroup. In some instances it may not be possible operationally for all employees in a workgroup to work flexibly if the number of employees seeking flexible working exceeds that which is acceptable on service delivery grounds. If this situation arises, the manager concerned must consider a fair method of selection to decide which employees will be allowed to work flexibly. In doing so they will need to take account of the requirements of the Work and Families Act 2006 (see 3.2). 3.6 In making any decision on whether flexible working should be applied the needs of the service should be fully considered. In addition there may be a genuine operational reason for excluding a flexible arrangement. This could include training and educational requirements e.g. for some medical posts. 3.7 Any request for flexible working, which is approved, may be subject to a trial period of six weeks, following which the revised working arrangement will be reviewed. This would particularly apply to working arrangements that have not existed previously. If it is agreed that the flexible arrangement can remain in place this should continue to be discussed on an annual basis during appraisal. (See section 8) 4.0 DUTIES 4.1Managers Managers have a number of responsibilities concerning flexible working. These include: Raising awareness of all polices and procedures that relate to flexible working and ensuring that these are considered in the recruitment process and are covered as part of the Induction process. Managers should obtain further advice from the Personnel department if they are unsure on the application of these policies. If requests for flexible working fall outside those detailed in existing Personnel Policies managers must seek further advice from the Personnel Department on whether they can be approved. Ensure that employees know how to request flexible working. Ensure that all requests for flexible working are dealt with in line with the procedure for requesting and processing flexible working. (See section 8) Review effectiveness of the flexible working arrangements approved in their area (see Section 8). 3

4 4.2 HR The HR department will ensure that the policy is applied in a fair and consistent manner. They will: provide advice to managers and staff on the application and interpretation of this policy. support managers processing applications and dealing with appeals. review this policy. SECTION B TYPES OF FLEXIBLE WORKING ARRANGEMENTS 5.0 What is Flexible Working Flexible working may involve several aspects that separately, or in combination, facilitate employees balancing the needs of the service with their life and responsibilities outside the workplace whilst maintaining or improving service provision and fulfilling their contractual obligations. Detailed below are the current arrangements that the Trust has for flexible working which managers are able to offer to staff. 5.1 Part-time working This is working less than the full time hours for the post. This could either be working reduced daily hours or working full time hours covering less than 5 days per week e.g. 3 days of 7.5.hours. The hours would therefore range from being very minimal to being virtually full time. The Part-time Workers (Prevention of less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000 ensure that part timers are not treated less favourably in their contractual terms and conditions than comparable full timers unless different treatment is justified on objective grounds. Employees approaching retirement may also wish to work part time (see 5.8 below). 5.2 Job Sharing This usually applies where two employees share the duties and responsibilities of one full time post and share the pay, holiday and other benefits accordingly. Further details are set out in the Trust s Policy on Job Sharing. 5.3 Term-time working This is an arrangement where an employee is employed on either a full time, part time or job share basis while retaining a permanent contract. Payment is proportioned equally throughout the year. The maximum number of weeks that the employee can have off is 12 weeks. Employees would normally be expected to take all their annual leave during school holidays. This arrangement will be most appropriate in any areas of the Trust where activity reduces in the school holiday periods or where there is permanent availability of other staff to cover the school holiday periods. In considering a request for term-time working managers must consider the effect that this will have on the team. Also they should ensure that they have tangible evidence that they can cover the absent post. Term-time Contracts Guidelines for Managers are available from the HR Department. 5.4 Voluntary Reduced Working Hours This is where the employee works reduced or variable hours for an agreed and defined period at a pro-rata reduced salary and with a guarantee to return to full time working when that period ends. The reason for taking this leave is normally to enable employees to manage personal or caring commitments on a short-term basis e.g. up to 3-9 months. 4

5 5.5.Bank working This is where an employee works on a bank arrangement and works ad hoc hours/ shifts that suit their personal circumstances and the needs of the service. This would normally apply when other options for flexible working cannot be utilised. The Trust runs a Trust wide bank for Nurses, Care Assistants and Housekeepers, which is centrally managed. Other areas within the Trust use bank staff e.g. Physiotherapists, Radiographers, Admin and Clerical staff and manage these on a departmental basis. 5.6.Working from Home This is where it is agreed that an employee may work some of their hours from home on an occasional basis. From a contractual position the Trust would remain the employee s base. This type of arrangement is more likely to apply to administrative and management posts. The IG document Home working/remote access framework should be read, and if managers agree that an employee can work at home they need to ensure the following: - That the work that the employee will be undertaking is agreed That the employee has facilities/equipment at home to be able to work e.g. computer, telephone That the employee, with the prior agreement of their manager, determines the days/hours that they will be working from home That the employee provides details of how they can be contacted at home That the employee is able to come into work, on the days they are working from home, should service needs require this. That the employee complies with all Trust Policies and Procedures whilst working from home, including Health and Safety and IG requirements. The Trust would re-imburse the cost of business telephone calls that are made whilst the employee is working from home on receipt of an itemised telephone bill. Note: Working from Home is different to Home Based Working where the employee s base is their place of residence Compressed Working Week This means that an employee works longer hours each day and therefore may work less days per week or fortnight e.g. 3 days of 12 hours or 9 days over 2 weeks This system of work may be suitable in limited circumstances where constant presence is not required on a regular basis and where it could improve service delivery e.g. improved access times/extended opening times. The Trust may refuse to introduce a compressed working week where it considers the needs of the service will not benefit by this arrangement or that there may be additional costs to the service. Managers will need to ensure that any arrangement considered complies with the Trust s Working Time Regulations Policy. Managers will also need to ensure that staff are fit to undertake the proposed hours this may mean that an occupational health assessment may be required e.g. for staff operating machinery. 5.8 Flexible Retirement The NHS Pension Scheme offers employees approaching retirement alternatives to consider, which may help employees adjust to retirement. This should be discussed with the Trust s Pensions Officer in the first instance. 5

6 In addition, employees may wish to utilise the Temporary Retire and Return Policy (1 st January 2013 to 31 st March 2014) to claim their pension and return to work. 5.9 Staggered Hours This arrangement is a variation on flexi-time and allows employees to determine work patterns on a planned basis. Employees within a team can work slightly different start, finish and break times with the agreement of their manager. This can be on a permanent or temporary basis Flexibility in agreeing rosters/exchanging shifts This is where employees agree rotas and/or shift changes among themselves and with the agreement of managers. The aim of this is to give employees more flexibility to plan their work around other commitments and responsibilities while fulfilling the needs of the service. There must be a clear set of rules in place, detailing a core number of shifts, to be covered before any arrangement is agreed. Managers will need to ensure that all shifts are covered Flexi-time scheme This arrangement is most suitable for a department whose work pattern would normally be 9am-5pm. Flexi-time allows employees to vary their hours outside certain core times. The Procedure for the operation of a flexitime scheme is available from the HR department Annualised Hours At present the Trust does not have an arrangement in place for an annualised hours scheme, this is a scheme where employees are contracted to work a certain number of hours per annum to coincide with actual levels of work. 6.0 LEAVE ARRANGEMENTS In addition to annual leave the Trust has other policies that provide for flexibility through leave arrangements. This leave will be either paid, unpaid or a mix of both depending on the employees length of service. The polices referred to are: 6.1 Maternity, Adoption and Paternity Leave Further details can be found in the Trust s Policies on Maternity and Paternity Leave. 6.2 Special Leave for Domestic, Personal and Family Reasons compassionate leave carer leave parental leave leave for urgent domestic problems leave to care for a terminally ill dependent special leave to attend medical appointments jury service or attendance as a witness at court leave for public duties leave for training with the reserve forces Further details can be found in the Trust s Policy on Special Leave for Domestic, Personal and Family reasons. 6.3 Career Break Scheme This allows an employee with over 2 years service the opportunity to have a career break of up to 2 years. The break would be unpaid. This could be to fulfil domestic 6

7 commitments e.g. bringing up children or caring for relatives, or for other reasons, including travel. Those participating in the scheme are expected to return to work at the end of the agreed break and to keep up to date in the interim period. At the end of the Career Break they would be offered a position of the grade and responsibility to that held before the break. For further details see the Trust policy on the Career Break Scheme. 7.0 FURTHER SUPPORT THAT THE TRUST PROVIDES TO HELP STAFF WORK ON A FLEXIBLE BASIS. In addition to the Policies detailed above the Trust has a number of measures to help support employees in their home /work interface. These include: Pension Information: When considering any part time arrangement employees are advised to consider the effect this may have on their pension. Contact the Pension Officer on extension 6262 On Site Nursery offering childcare up to school age from Monday to Friday. Contact Nursery Manager on ext Playscheme: the Nursery runs this during all school holidays for children aged 4 to 12 years (inclusive). Contact Nursery Manager on ext Nurse Bank: This co-ordinates bank work for Nurses, Midwives and Care Assistants. Contact Personnel Assistant Nurse Bank on ext Housekeeping Bank: This co-ordinates bank work for Housekeepers. Contact Administrator on ext SECTION C - PROCEDURE FOR REQUESTING AND PROCESSING FLEXIBLE WORKING 8.0 This section details how employees can request flexible working and how their requests will be processed. 8.1 Requesting Flexible Working Who can request flexible working? This policy may be applied to all employees who have 26 weeks or more service with the Trust. This is in order to help them balance both domestic and work responsibilities. This extends the provisions of the Work and Families Act 2006 (see Section 3.2). However an employee who meets the requirements of the Work and Families Act 2006 will be given priority in their request for flexible working over other employees. The Trust will not approve requests for flexible working if the reason is to enable an employee to work elsewhere as well as the Trust What sort of flexible working can be requested? An employee may make a request for flexible working as detailed in Section How should a request be made Any request for flexible working, which will change an employee s terms and conditions, must be made in writing using the flexible working application form. This should clearly detail the changes requested and the reason for the change. It should also indicate the date proposed for the change to come into effect. The application should be forwarded to the employee s manager see chart below. The employee must submit their application at least 6 weeks prior to the proposed changed. 7

8 For the purposes of receiving requests and approving requests the employee s manager will be one of the following: Level of employee making request Employees below Ward Manager/Department Manager (of the level who reports into an Associate Director /Head of Service) Ward Manager/Department Manager Head of Service Associate Director /Executive Director/Medical Director Doctors below Consultant grade Consultants Manager who will approve request Ward Manager/ Department Manager Associate Director /Head of Service Executive Director Chief Executive Consultant Clinical Director The application must also state what effect the employee thinks the change will have on the trust/department/team and indicate how this change may be accommodated. The employee may hold an informal discussion with their manager before making a written application. If this discussion takes places the manager should not make any decision at this stage Processing requests for flexible working How is an application processed? The employee s manager as detailed above will arrange to meet the employee within 28 calendar days of receiving the written application. If appropriate the employee s immediate manager may also be present at the meeting. A Trade Union representative or a work colleague may accompany the employee. The manager may request advice or support from their Personnel Advisor. Each request will be considered on its merits and the current circumstances. The manager will notify the employee the outcome of their decision in writing within 14 calendar days of the meeting If the request is agreed The manager must ensure that a record of the application and outcome is given to the employee. The manager should re-calculate the annual leave, if applicable. A copy of the application form should be forwarded to the Personnel Advisor for the employee s personal file and to ensure that any appropriate changes to the terms and conditions of employment are actioned. If the agreed request is subject to a trial period, the manager must review the revised arrangements 6 weeks after these have been implemented. The outcome of the review may be that the request may be modified. If this is the case the modification should be recorded in writing by the manager and a copy given to the employee and the Personnel Department. Flexible working arrangements should continue to be reviewed as part of the annual appraisal process If the request is refused The reasons for the refusal must be detailed in writing. A copy of the application form should be forwarded to the Personnel Advisor for the employee s personal file. In some circumstances it could be agreed to defer a decision until a later date. In such cases managers should give the employee an explanation for the deferment. The 8

9 employee must be advised that they may appeal against the decision within 14 calendar days of the day of the decision Appeal Process If the employee wishes to appeal they should write to the Director of Personnel and Facilities setting out the grounds on which they wish to appeal. The appeal should be heard within 14 calendar days of receipt of the appeal. The appeal should be heard as follows: Level of employee who wishes to appeal. Employees below Ward Manager/Department Manager (of the level who reports into an Associate Director /Head of Service) Ward Manager/Department Manager Head of Service Associate Director /Executive Director/Medical Director Doctors below Consultant grade Consultants Manager who will hear appeal Associate Director /Head of Service Executive Director Chief Executive Non-Executive Director Clinical Director Chief Executive The employee may be accompanied by a Trade Union representative or work colleague. If the employee is being accompanied the manager may be accompanied by a member of the Personnel Department. The appeal hearing will follow the same format as the Trust s Grievance Hearing. The employee should be notified of the outcome of the appeal decision within 14 calendar days of the appeal meeting. There will be no further right of appeal. The Manager will forward a copy of the flexible working application form to the Personnel department where it will be held on the employee s personal file. The Personnel department will monitor applications received requesting flexible working Reasons why an application may be turned down The manager may reject the application for flexible working if it is considered that one or more of the following apply: burden of additional costs detrimental effect on ability to meet service demand inability to re-organise work among existing staff inability to recruit additional staff detrimental impact on performance insufficiency of work during periods employee proposes to work planned structural changes. If an application is turned down the employee may not make another further application for 12 months Reasons why an application may not be processed. An application for flexible working will be considered to have been withdrawn if the following applies: 9

10 the employee withdraws the application orally or in writing, or the employee has failed to attend arranged meetings to discuss their application more than once the employee has unreasonably refused to provide the employer with information required to assess whether the contract variation should be agreed to. In these circumstances the manager must notify the employee, in writing, that the application is now regarded as withdrawn. 9.0 REVIEW OF THE POLICY Promotion of flexible working arrangements as a means of recruiting, retaining and motivating staff continues to develop as new working arrangements are identified. This policy is therefore likely to be the subject of review, as new flexible working arrangements become available EQUALITY IMPACT ASSESSMENT This policy has been subject to an Equality Impact Assessment and is not anticipated to have an adverse impact on any group MONITORING OF THE POLICY This policy will be monitored by the HR Department who will maintain a record of appeals and grievances. This information is reported to the Trust Board each quarter in the Human Capital Report REFERENCES AND RELATED GUIDANCE NHS Terms and Conditions of Service Equality Act 2010 CIPD (August 2012) Flexible Working Factsheet ACAS (April 2011) The right to apply for flexible working, a short guide for employers, working parents and carers 10

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