Flexible Working Policy and Procedure

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1 Flexible Working Policy and Procedure 1. Policy Statement Teesside University is committed to attracting, retaining, developing and rewarding a high calibre of staff and believes that individuals should be enabled to achieve their full potential in their role and career progression. The University therefore seeks to remove any barriers to enabling the achievement of optimum performance and a healthy work-life balance by offering a flexible and supportive approach to working arrangements. 2. Scope 2.1 This Policy and Procedure applies to all contracted staff of Teesside University who have worked for the University continuously for at least 26 weeks at the date of the application. An employee may only make one statutory request in any 12 month period. 2.2 The term Flexible Working covers flexibility in terms of working time (e.g. parttime, shifts, term time, phased retirement), location (e.g. secondment, volunteering) and time out (e.g. career break, sabbatical). For more detailed examples please see Appendix It is not intended that this Policy be used to cover local ad-hoc arrangements to work from home on occasion in agreement with line managers, nor Recording and Monitoring your Workload and Availability within the document Working as an Academic at Teesside University, or to deal with Flexi-Time for which a separate scheme is in operation. 2.4 Mandatory training will be carried out for all UET members and cascaded to other appropriate managers and supervisors to ensure a common understanding and application of the Policy and Procedure. 3. Aims This Policy, together with the supporting documents, has been designed to provide advice and guidance about the right to request flexible working and the duty on the University to consider such requests in the context of the impact upon the business and business need, whilst being sympathetic to the employee s wishes. The Policy has the following aims and objectives: 1

2 to identify core business needs to support the implementation of flexible working; to detail the rights and responsibilities of all parties; to encourage the consideration of flexible working patterns that will provide a solution for both the employer and the employee; to offer guidance to managers; to provide a process of monitoring and review. 4. Procedure 4.1 Application by the Employee Initial Discussions In line with good management practice, the University actively encourages open communication between employees and Line Managers over employment issues. Wherever possible the employee should have initial discussions with their Line Manager regarding flexible working requests. The intention of such a discussion is to provide an opportunity for the employee to explain their request and to allow the Line Manager to explore this and possible options whilst considering the business needs Formal Action The employee must apply for formal consideration of a change to their working arrangements, even if the informal discussions are positive, in order that requests can be processed and recorded consistently The Application The application must: Be in writing by completion of the Application for Flexible Working Form and addressed to their Dean/Director and copied to their HR Manager and Line Manager (see appendix 2 for definition of Line Manager). Ensure that it is signed and dated. Specify the working pattern or change the employee is seeking. State the date on which it is proposed the change would become effective (and end date if the application is for a temporary period). State what effect the employee thinks the requested change would have on the University and how, in their opinion, such effect may be dealt with. 2

3 Give the University reasonable time (normally no longer than 28 days) to consider the proposal and to implement it. In cases of Phased Retirement, confirm that the employee has considered both the personal financial and pension implications of the application and allowed the University to explore any financial implications of granting such a request. Employees should be aware that, should the University approve their application, unless the change in working pattern has been agreed as a temporary one, the resulting variation to contract and their terms and conditions, will be a permanent one. The employee will not have an automatic right to change back to their previous working pattern. However, the University will give due consideration to such requests, made via a new application under this Policy or as a result of voluntary arrangements made Consideration of an Application The Line Manager Manager will arrange the meeting with the employee and their Human Resources Manager to discuss the request, normally within 28 days of receipt of the request. The meeting, however, does not commit the University to accepting the request The Meeting The meeting will be led by the Line Manager with a Human Resources Manager in attendance, and will be held at a time and place convenient to both parties, normally within the University. If either party cannot make the initial date then another date and time will be arranged. The meeting will provide both parties with the opportunity to discuss the proposed working change in depth and to consider how it might be accommodated. (Both parties should be prepared to be flexible). If the proposed working change cannot be accommodated, the meeting will provide an opportunity to explore alternatives. It may also be agreed that, in the interests of both parties, the new working arrangement is trialled for a specified period The Right to be Accompanied The employee, if they wish, may be accompanied to any meeting by a Trade Union Representative or a friend from within the University not acting in a professional capacity. The employee should notify their chosen Trade Union Representative or friend of the timing of the meeting and confirm their attendance, ensuring that they are appraised of the details of the employee s application. The role of the Trade Union Representative or friend is to support the employee. The Trade Union Representative or friend is able to address the meeting, and to confer with the employee during it, but normally they may not answer questions for the employee. 3

4 4.1.7 Failure to Attend the Meeting If the employee fails to attend the meeting without notification, they must contact their Line Manager as soon as possible to explain their absence and to allow the meeting to be re-arranged at a mutually convenient time. If the employee fails to attend both the primary and subsequent meeting without providing reasonable and acceptable explanation, the University will consider that the application has been withdrawn. The Human Resources Manager will provide written confirmation to the employee that the application is now withdrawn Decision and Outcome The Line Manager will normally notify the employee, in writing, of the outcome of the meeting within 14 days of the initial meeting date. If backfill is required as part of any agreement to a request, the decision will normally be extended by up to a further 14 days to allow consideration of this request. The decision will be either: to accept the request and establish a start date and any other actions; to confirm a compromise agreed at the meeting; reject the request, setting out clear business reasons (in accordance with paragraph 4.3 Grounds for Refusal), how these apply to the application and the appeals process. The University will aim to complete the entire process in a timely manner, recognising that the law prescribes that consideration of the process, including any Appeal, must be completed within three months of first receiving the request Back-filling of Posts The University recognises that in many cases, an application which is based upon a reduction in hours or weeks, may result in a request from the Dean/Director to backfill the vacant hours or weeks. In such cases a Staffing Request should be submitted to Human Resources for approval. 4.2 Handling Requests to Work Flexibly in a Fair Way There may be occasions where the University receives, in a short time period, more than one request to work flexibly in the same work area. Where this happens it may not be possible to grant all of the requests received. However, the University will look closely at the impact doing so would have on the business before coming to a decision. Such requests will be dealt with in the order they are received. Having considered and approved the first request, the Line Manager will consider that the business context has now changed and this can be taken into account when considering the second or subsequent requests against the eight business reasons (see 4.3 below). 4

5 If the University is unable to approve a request because a number of other employees, in that area, are already working flexibly and any other flexible working arrangements would impact adversely on the business, the University will ask for volunteers from the existing flexible working employees to change their working patterns thereby allowing capacity to grant new requests. There is however no obligation on any other staff to change their working arrangements to facilitate flexible working for a colleague. 4.3 Grounds for Refusal Applications for flexible working arrangements can be refused for the following eight reasons only: the burden of additional costs is unacceptable to the organisation; the employer considers the change would have a detrimental effect on the business ability to meet customer demand; an inability to re-organise work amongst existing staff; inability to recruit additional staff; the employer considers the change will have a detrimental impact on quality; there is insufficient work during the period that the employee proposes to work; planned structural changes, for example where the employer intends to reorganise or change the business and considers the flexible working changes may not fit with these plans; detrimental impact on performance. 4.4 Phased Retirement Applications for Phased or Flexible Retirement will normally only be considered where the employee agrees, as part of the application, to retire on a specific agreed future date. Such applications can have significant cost implications on the University and will normally only be supported where there is zero cost. In addition Phased or Flexible Retirement will impact on the employee s pension benefits. Employees considering such an application are required to seek information from the University s Pensions Administrator and the relevant pension scheme before making an application. In addition, the employee must allow the University to confirm any direct cost implications of any request before the application can be considered. 4.5 The Appeal Process It may not always be possible for the University to agree to a request for a flexible working pattern for an employee. Where the employee subsequently has new information that was not available to the employer at the time they made their decision, or if the employee believes the application was not handled reasonably in line with the Policy, the employee can appeal. In such a case the employee may challenge the University s decision on one of the following grounds: that the application was rejected on the basis of incorrect facts; that the application was not handled in line with the Policy and Procedure. 5

6 Employees who wish to appeal must apply in writing to the Executive Director of Human Resources within 10 working days of receiving the written notice of the decision from the University, stating the grounds of their appeal. The University will arrange to hear the employee s appeal as soon as is reasonably practicable, but within a maximum of three months of first receiving the original request, unless an extension is agreed with the employee. The appeal meeting will be led by a member of the Vice-Chancellor s Executive accompanied by the Executive Director of Human Resources. The employee may be accompanied by a Trade Union Representative or a friend from within the University not acting in a professional capacity. The University will notify the employee, in writing, of their decision. The notification will either: uphold the appeal and specify the agreed variation, start date (and end date if applicable); dismiss the appeal and state the grounds for the decision and contain a sufficient explanation of the refusal. A written notice of the appeal outcome will constitute the University s final decision and will be seen as the end of the formal procedure. 5. Approval This Policy and Procedure was approved by the People and Organisational Development Committee on 3 March Monitoring Human Resources will monitor Flexible Working Requests via a casework log. 7. Review by Date This document will be reviewed in March Review may occur earlier if legislative and/or professional standards change. 8. Related Documents Flexi-Time Scheme Special Leave Policy Maternity, Paternity and Adoption Leave Policy Family Leave Policy Age Equality Policy Job Share Scheme Pension Fund Regulations 6

7 9. Responsibilities A brief table of the key areas of activity and the role-holder with overall responsibility: Role Accountable for Deans/Directors/Line Managers Receives Applications and meets with employees to discuss application Human Resources Ensure that the Policy is applied equitably and consistently Document Control Title: Flexible Working Policy and Procedure Applicable to: All Staff (except casual staff) Date of Issue: 3 March 2017 Procedure Owner: Human Resources 7

8 Appendix 1 What is Flexible Working? The following are examples of Flexible Working arrangements and are indicative of the options available. The University does not necessarily endorse all such working arrangements and will consider all applications primarily in line with its business needs. Part-time Working there is no set pattern to part-time working. It may involve a later start and earlier finish time than a full-time position, working mornings or afternoons only, fewer days in the week or any other arrangement of working time whereby the employee is contracted to work less than the normal basic full-time hours. Staggered Hours allows employees to start and finish their working day at different times. This means that employees can all have different start, finish and break times. This allows employers to cover longer business opening hours. Compressed Hours allows employees to work their total number of agreed hours over a shorter period. For example, employees might work their full weekly hours over four days rather than five, or work nine days a fortnight instead of ten. Job Sharing involves two employees employed on a part-time basis, but working together to cover the duties of a post normally undertaken by one full-time person. Both job-sharers receive pay for the hours they work and divide holiday and other benefits accordingly. Shift Working gives employers the scope to have their business open for longer periods than a more usual 8 hour working day. Time Off in Lieu or Banked Hours this allows employees to take time off to compensate them for extra hours worked. Term-time or Part-time Working makes it possible for employees to take unpaid blocks of leave during certain periods of the year, for example University holiday periods. Annualised Hours describes working time organised on the basis of the number of hours to be worked over a year rather than a week; it is usually used to fit in with peaks and troughs of work over the year. Pay depends on the hours worked during each pay period. The University will normally operate an accounting period of 1 September to 31 August. Phased Retirement allows employees who meet the TPS or LGPS pensionable age criteria to either reduce their hours or level of job/grade and take part of their pension benefits whilst still working. This can only be done in line with the Pension Scheme regulations and with the University s approval, and in accordance with its Discretionary Policy Statement (LPGS Scheme only). Secondment allows an employee to undertake a period of paid employment (normally to work on a specific project) with an external employer (e.g. NHS) whilst remaining employed by the University. 8

9 Career Breaks allows an employee to take an unpaid break from work (normally up to a maximum of two years) with the opportunity to return to the original job or a similar job on the same terms and conditions. Sabbatical allows an employee (normally an academic) to take a paid or unpaid break from work (normally up to a maximum of one academic year) to undertake a particular piece of work or research, with the opportunity to return to their original job. 9

10 Appendix 2 Line Managers For the purposes of this Flexible Working Procedure, a Line Manager shall be defined as follows: For Deans of Schools, the Line Manager shall be the relevant Pro-Vice Chancellor; For Directors of Departments, the Line manager shall be their appropriate Pro-Vice Chancellor or Chief Operating Officer; For all other members of staff the Line Manager will be the appropriate member of the management team of the School Department (no lower than Grade 7). 10

11 Appendix 3 1. Personal Details Name: APPLICATION FOR FLEXIBLE WORKING School/Department: Employee Number: Note to the Employee You may use this form to make an application to work flexibly under the University s Flexible Working Policy. Before completing this form, please read the University s Flexible Working Policy and Procedure. The University encourages you to have informal discussions with your Line Manager before making a formal application. This could be done in a face to face meeting or via . You should note that the process from application to any final appeal is a maximum of three months. You should therefore ensure that you submit your application to your Line Manager, copied to your Dean/Director and Human Resources Manager, well in advance of the date you wish the request, should it be approved, to take effect. It will help the University to consider your request if you provide as much information as you can about your desired working arrangements. It is important that you complete all the questions. When completing Question 3 think about what effect your change in working arrangements will have both on the work that you do and on your colleagues. Once you have completed the form send it immediately to your Line Manager, Dean/Director and Human Resources Manager and keep a copy for your own records. Your Line Manager will arrange a formal meeting with you to discuss your request. If the request is granted this will be a permanent change (unless a temporary arrangement is agreed) to your terms and conditions and there is no legal right to return to your original contractual arrangements. If your application relates to a reasonable adjustment for a disability under the Equality Act 2010 then please make this clear on this application form. 11

12 2. I would like to apply for a flexible working arrangement that is different to my current working pattern. 2a Describe your current working pattern (days/hours/times/weeks worked): 2b Describe the working arrangements you would like to work in future (e.g. days/hours/times/weeks/phased retirement/sabbatical/career break/disability adjustment request): 2c I would like this working arrangement to commence from: Date: Month: Year: And to end (if temporary): Date: Month: Year: I confirm that: 12

13 I have not made a formal request to work flexibly during the past 12 months: 3. Impact of the new working arrangement I think this change in my working pattern will affect my School/Department s business as follows: And may impact on my colleagues as follows: And the effect on my School/Department/colleagues can be dealt with as follows: Signed:. Dean/Director/Line Manager only Date: Please consider this application in accordance with the following broad areas of potential impact: 13

14 The burden of additional costs is unacceptable to the organisation. The employer considers the change would have a detrimental effect on the business ability to meet customer demand. An inability to re-organise work amongst existing staff. Inability to recruit additional staff to cover hours lost. The employer considers the change will have a detrimental impact on quality. There is insufficient work during the period that the employee proposes to work. Planned structural changes, for example where the employer intends to reorganise or change the business model and considers the flexible working changes may not fit with these plans. Detrimental impact on performance. Dean/Director/Line Manager comments: Backfill If agreed please comment on any backfill requests to be made. Signed: (Line Manager) Date: Please send one copy of this application to your Dean/Director and one to your Human Resources Manager. 14

15 15 APPENDIX 4