Flexible working

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Overview

What is flexible working?

The term 'flexible working' describes any working arrangement where the number of hours worked or the time that work is undertaken vary from standard practice. The flexible working arrangements currently supported by the University are detailed on the 'types of working' tab.

Flexible working can have benefits for both the employee and the University by:

    • helping someone achieve a better balance between home and work responsibilities
    • helping someone to stay at work when circumstances might have prevented you doing so
    • structuring working patterns and staffing levels around peaks and troughs of demand

Who can ask for flexible working?

It is University policy to offer the opportunity to request flexible working patterns to all staff with 26 weeks service. All requests will receive due consideration.

You have a legal right to request flexible retirement if you have 26 weeks continuous service and:

  • are not under probation
  • are eligible under the appropriate pension scheme rules for retirement
  • have provided a minimum of six months notice of your intended flexible retirement implementation date

For employees

Thinking about an application

  • An approved request for flexible working will usually lead to a permanent change to your employment contract. There will be no automatic right to revert back to your previous working pattern. It is possible occasionally that a manager may be able to agree a fixed-term or open-ended but temporary arrangement with an agreed review period.
  • Give some thought to the financial implications for your salary, pension, benefits etc. These may be balanced by reduced child-care or travel costs, but it is important that you are well informed about the impact and you should seek advice from relevant people if you are unsure.
  • If your post is externally funded you may need the permission of the funding body (for example a Research Council) as well as your manager to change your working hours.
  • Your manager is more likely to be able to respond positively to your request if you have thought through the implications for your colleagues and for the service you provide. If there are disadvantages you should try to consider how they could be overcome, or what benefits might outweigh them.

Making an application

  • Start the process in good time if personal factors make the implementation date of changed arrangements, assuming they are approved, a critical factor.
  • Submit your request as soon as possible and certainly not less than 12 weeks before you want the new arrangements to start. If your request is approved, your manager may need to put in place other changes locally and will need time to do that. There may be occasions where an unexpected change to your personal circumstances makes this length of notice impractical and your manager will do their best to respond rapidly.
  • If you decide to make an application, talk to your manager informally in the first instance. That will enable you both to think through some of the implications and consider whether you need to seek out further information before making a formal request.
  • To make a formal request you will need to complete form FWR1. It is important that you complete all sections of the form so that your manager and Head of Department (HoD) have the information they need to give proper consideration to your request. They may come back to you for more information and if so you will need to re-submit form FWR1 with the information included. The date of your request will then be the date of re-submission.
  • You may make a request jointly with a colleague and in that case each of you should complete an FWR1 form.

What happens to your application?

  • Your manager will acknowledge receipt within seven days. They will consider your request, including factors such as the impact on the service and on other staff and the benefits to be gained. They will include this information on the form and will then pass it to your HoD for a decision.
  • Your HoD will respond to you within 28 days of receiving your form unless absence delays this (see 2.7 of the Procedure). Your HoD may write to let you know that your request has been approved or may want to arrange a meeting within that same timescale to discuss it further. If a meeting is held you can choose to be accompanied by a work colleague or a trade union representative. Your HoD may request a member of Human Resources to attend to provide advice.
  • Your HoD may want to introduce the arrangements on a temporary basis for a trial period only to identify any problems or issues that arise. This would give you the opportunity to demonstrate that the arrangements can work well, but it is possible that issues will arise that cannot be overcome and agreement to an long-term or indefinite change to your working pattern would not be given. In the event that a trial period is carried out, Form FWR2 (Flexible Working Review Form) will be used to record the outcome of any discussions that take place during the trial of the flexible working arrangement.
  • If it is not possible to agree to your request as it stands, your HoD may suggest an alternative arrangement for you to consider. It is sensible to be prepared to discuss a compromise, but in the event that an agreement cannot be reached your current working arrangements will remain unchanged.
  • You can change your mind about your application at any time up to the point that it is approved in writing by your HoD. If you do change your mind you should let your manager or HoD know either verbally, by letter or by email and they will then confirm in writing that the request has been withdrawn.
  • Your HoD will write to you within 14 days of the date of the meeting to approve or reject your proposal. If your request is rejected the letter must give the reasons (see 2.1 of the Procedure).
  • If your request is refused you have the right to appeal against that decision on certain grounds (see 3.1 of the Procedure) and the refusal letter should give you details about how to do so. An appeal hearing will then be arranged and your appeal will be heard by a different manager. You will again have the right to be accompanied by a colleague or by a trade union representative.
  • The manager hearing the appeal will give you a decision within 14 days of the date of the meeting. That decision is final and you may not normally submit another request for flexible working within 12 months.
  • If your request is approved it is likely that, after an agreed period, your manager will want to review how the new arrangements are working. If difficulties arise before the review date do not wait, talk to your manager about them straight away.

Flexible retirements: points to note

  • Requests for flexible retirement must be submitted a minimum of six months before the intended implementation date to enable the appropriate pension and working arrangements to be put in place
  • If your HoD approves your request, they will forward it immediately to Human Resources so that the Pensions team can start the flexible retirement process
  • The start date of any intended flexible retirement arrangement will be dependent upon confirmation from the relevant pension scheme
  • Where a request for flexible retirement is made which is subsequently determined as invalid under the pension scheme rules, you can withdraw and resubmit the application as soon as is practical. The usual rule against applying for flexible working within 12 months of a previous application does not apply in these circumstances

For further information see to the flexible working policy and procedure.

Responsibilities

Role Responsible for

Employee or group of employees

  • Discussing their interest in flexible working arrangements with their line manager
  • Submitting a written request under the Flexible Working Policy, including all relevant information
  • Responding promptly and positively to requests for further information and with regard to arrangements for meetings

Line manager

  • Responding constructively to informal discussions with employees about flexible working
  • Giving due consideration to formal requests for flexible working arrangements, taking a positive and creative approach to enabling requests where possible in light of the needs of the service
  • Ensuring the HoD has all relevant information, including service needs and factors affecting the well-being of all staff, to enable a fair decision to be made
  • Following the procedure when dealing with requests for flexible working. In particular, ensuring time-scales are met
  • Monitoring how effectively the flexible working arrangements are operating during any trial period and notifying HR of the outcome of any review.

Head of Department

  • Establishing and maintaining a culture that is supportive of a positive work-life balance and enabling in its approach to flexible working
  • Giving due consideration to formal requests for flexible working arrangements, taking a positive and creative approach to enabling requests where possible in light of the needs of the service
  • Following the procedure when dealing with requests for flexible working. In particular, ensuring time-scales are met
  • Advising HR of the outcome of any requests
  • Ensuring the University’s equal opportunities principles are applied in matters relating to flexible working

Human Resources

  • Providing guidance and advice to employees, line managers and Heads of Department regarding the Flexible Working Policy and the relevant legislative requirements
  • Receiving appeals from employees whose request for flexible working has been turned down. Appointing an appropriate manager to hear the appeal
  • Providing formal notification to employees and Payroll of changes to contractual arrangements (where applicable)
  • Liaising with the relevant pension scheme, in cases of flexible retirement
  • Monitoring and reviewing the working of the policy, including monitoring for equal opportunities impact.

For managers

Receiving an application

  • Employees who are considering making a request for flexible working should be encouraged to talk to their line manager informally in the first instance. That will provide the opportunity to think through some of the implications; consider what the possible benefits are; if there are disadvantages how they could be overcome, or what might outweigh them. It may be apparent at this stage that further information is needed before a request could be considered.
  • The flexible working procedure requires employees to submit their formal request on form FWR1 at least 12 weeks before they want the new arrangements to start. However where the personal circumstances of an employee change suddenly (e.g. due to bereavement or disability of a relative or carer) that timescale may not be possible and managers should do their best to respond sympathetically.
  • On receiving a request managers must acknowledge receipt of the form within seven days.

Considering an application

  • Managers will need to give full consideration to the request and must consider a range of factors, bearing in mind that the needs of the organisation must take priority:
  • Assess whether the impact on the service the employee provides will be positive or negative. The request may support retention and/or maintain morale or may provide an opportunity to cut costs. If additional costs are going to be incurred managers must identify whether there are likely to be compensatory benefits. For example there may be an opportunity to re-structure; to make better use of space or to improve quality or provide a better customer service.
  • Identify any team-related issues that need considering. For example, there may already be staff working atypical patterns and it may not be practical to add another. In that case managers might propose a compromise arrangement or might consider putting the new request on a ‘waiting list’ to be considered if circumstances change, such as a member of staff with a flexible working pattern leaving the team.
  • Similarly, multiple requests that are submitted around the same time may be difficult or impossible to accommodate. In general, these should be dealt with on a ‘first come, first served’ basis with others going on a waiting list. Where requests are received at the same time and it is impossible to accede to all, preference should be given to those with the caring responsibilities that give them a legal right to make a request. Existing flexible working arrangements should not, however, be overturned in order to accommodate those with caring responsibilities.
  • It is important to ensure that in agreeing to a flexible working request managers are not reducing flexibility (for example the ability to utilise a flexitime scheme) and/or increasing workload inappropriately for the rest of the team.
  • Consider other practical issues:
    • are there issues of supervision/monitoring and are they manageable?
    • will the permission of an external funding body be required and is it likely to be given?
    • does anyone else need to be consulted before a recommendation is made?
    • will new equipment need ordering and what is the lead time?
    • if the request is approved how soon could the new arrangements be put in place?
    • who needs to be informed of new arrangements?
  • Consider the possible effect on the employee(s) of refusing a flexible working request. There may be a deterioration in their motivation or morale that requires attention and support to assist them to a more positive outlook. Managers should consider appropriate ways to do this while ensuring in the meantime that there is no detrimental impact on customers and/or colleagues.
    Occasionally an employee whose request has been refused will find it impossible to continue at work because of their caring responsibilities. If managers believe this may be an outcome of a refused request they should consider in advance how they will cover the duties of the post until a replacement is recruited.
  • Managers must summarise the issues on form FWR1 and make a recommendation before passing the form to their HoD for a decision.
  • Heads of Department will consider the employee(s) request and the assessment / recommendation of the line manager. They will write to the employee(s) to either approve the request or to convene a meeting to discuss the request further. The meeting must take place within 28 days of the receipt of the FWR1 form from the employee(s) (see 2.7 of the Procedure for exceptions) and the final outcome must be given in writing within 14 days of the meeting.
  • An employee can withdraw a request at any time until they receive written notification that it has been granted, and may do so by email, verbally or in writing. Managers may also deem an application withdrawn in certain circumstances (see 4.2 of the Procedure). In either case they should confirm in writing immediately that the application has been withdrawn. Employee(s) may not then make a request again within the next 12 months.
  • If the request is refused, it must be for one of the reasons given in 2.1 of the Procedure. Employee(s) have the right to appeal to the Director of HR, on certain grounds, within 14 days of the refusal. The outcome of the appeal hearing is final and the employee(s) cannot submit a further request for flexible working within 12 months.

Detailed procedural requirements can be found in the Procedure for Requesting Flexible Working.

Implementing the flexible working arrangements

  • In most cases the HoD will introduce the new arrangements on a temporary basis for a trial period only to identify any problems or issues that arise. This will give the opportunity to demonstrate that the arrangements can work well or iron out minor difficulties. However, if issues arise that cannot be overcome (see 2.1 of the Procedure) the HoD may refuse permission for long-term or indefinite changed to working patterns. Form FWR2 (Flexible Working Review Form) should be used to record the outcome of any discussions that take place during the trial period.
  • Where a trial period for the new arrangements is agreed, diary a review in advance and meet to discuss any issues that have arisen. Make sure that trial arrangements do not just continue by default until they become custom and practice. However, if serious problems arise you should not wait until any agreed review date to discuss them.
  • In most circumstances an approved request for flexible working will lead to a permanent change to the contractual terms of employment for the employee(s), with no automatic right to revert back to their previous working pattern. Managers should send the completed FWR1 form to hr-enquiries@york.ac.uk.
  • Managers should consider what needs to be done locally to implement the new arrangements, for example:
    • Make sure the rest of the team are fully informed about any changed arrangements.
    • Ensure customers or colleagues in other sections are informed where necessary.
    • Commence recruitment processes where appropriate.
    • Address training issues for the employee(s) and/or for others in the team.
    • Put in place appropriate monitoring systems such as agreeing clear objectives with the employee(s), or identifying an appropriate system of time recording.
    • Put in place appropriate communication systems, e.g. diary for job share partners.
    • Alter work or holiday rotas

The flexible working arrangements available to staff will be kept under review and, subject to feasibility, may be amended from time to time.

For further information see to the flexible working policy and procedure.

Responsibilities

Role Responsible for

Employee or group of employees

  • Discussing their interest in flexible working arrangements with their line manager
  • Submitting a written request under the Flexible Working Policy, including all relevant information
  • Responding promptly and positively to requests for further information and with regard to arrangements for meetings

Line manager

  • Responding constructively to informal discussions with employees about flexible working
  • Giving due consideration to formal requests for flexible working arrangements, taking a positive and creative approach to enabling requests where possible in light of the needs of the service
  • Ensuring the HoD has all relevant information, including service needs and factors affecting the well-being of all staff, to enable a fair decision to be made
  • Following the procedure when dealing with requests for flexible working. In particular, ensuring time-scales are met
  • Monitoring how effectively the flexible working arrangements are operating during any trial period and notifying HR of the outcome of any review.

Head of Department

  • Establishing and maintaining a culture that is supportive of a positive work-life balance and enabling in its approach to flexible working
  • Giving due consideration to formal requests for flexible working arrangements, taking a positive and creative approach to enabling requests where possible in light of the needs of the service
  • Following the procedure when dealing with requests for flexible working. In particular, ensuring time-scales are met
  • Advising HR of the outcome of any requests
  • Ensuring the University’s equal opportunities principles are applied in matters relating to flexible working

Human Resources

  • Providing guidance and advice to employees, line managers and Heads of Department regarding the Flexible Working Policy and the relevant legislative requirements
  • Receiving appeals from employees whose request for flexible working has been turned down. Appointing an appropriate manager to hear the appeal
  • Providing formal notification to employees and Payroll of changes to contractual arrangements (where applicable)
  • Liaising with the relevant pension scheme, in cases of flexible retirement
  • Monitoring and reviewing the working of the policy, including monitoring for equal opportunities impact.

Types of working

Part-time working / change of hours

Part time / reduced hours may be a result of:

  • An employee requesting a reduction in their working week, or working year (see term-time only working below).
  • Two employees asking to share one full-time job (see job-share below).
  • Establishing that a post that does not require full-time hours

Part-time employees have the same rates of pay and holiday (pro-rata) as full-time staff and the same entitlement to pension, maternity leave, sick pay, development opportunities and promotions. Reduced hours will normally result in a permanent contractual change. There may, however, be occasions where a temporary reduction of hours is agreed.

Reduced hours may be an attractive option for employees approaching retirement who may want to develop other interests and activities as they give up their working responsibilities. The Pensions Office should be contacted for advice about pension options or implications.

Key points:

  • Recruitment to the remaining hours might provide an extra resource in terms of availability, flexibility and range of skills. If recruitment proves difficult it might be necessary to postpone the implementation of reduced hours.
  • It may allow managers to use resources more flexibly or in different ways.
  • Cover must be available at relevant times, duties delegated appropriately and workload distributed in accordance with the hours each employee works. Before agreeing to a change of hours both parties should ensure that workload can be adjusted in line with working hours.
  • Where there are already a number of part-time employees in the section the impact on service delivery and planning of rotas, shifts, holidays etc. should be considered.
  • Arrangements must be put in place to ensure that service levels are maintained and the burden of continuity does not always fall to full-time staff.

Increased Hours

Employees who have previously worked part-time may request an increase in their hours when their personal circumstances change. Managers are under no obligation to agree to this contractual change, but subject to budgetary considerations it may provide an opportunity to make beneficial changes to the service or staffing arrangements.

Job sharing and job splitting

Job share is an arrangement where two employees share all aspects of a job between them. Pay and benefits are also shared on a pro-rata basis. There are a number of patterns of job-sharing:

  • Split week - each partner works two and a half (or occasionally some other split) days per week.
  • Overlapping week - each partner works three days so there is an overlap of one day. Good for continuity and communications.
  • Split day - one partner works every morning and the other every afternoon. Good for continuity but may have implications for travel or child-care costs that make it less attractive to employees.
  • Alternate weeks - each partner has full weeks at work then the same amount of time off work. Useful where travel cost is an issue, but makes handover and continuity challenging in some roles.
  • Simultaneously for two or three days per week - each partner works the same days at the same time. Provides for good communication, but unlikely to be useful where a customer-facing service need to be provided.

Key points:

  • Such arrangements may add to the experience and expertise available within the organisation.
  • Two people would know and understand the job instead of one. It might be possible for each partner to provide some level of absence cover for the other.
  • Job shares work best when it is possible to build in some overlap period so that a hand-over can take place. Managers must consider how that can be arranged and good communications ensured.
  • Additional training, equipment and fixed costs may be required and managers must consider these when assessing the practicality of agreeing to the request.
  • Where one job-share partner leaves, managers may ask the remaining partner to cover both parts of the job-share. If, following advertisement, recruitment to the remaining part of the post proves impossible, managers may replace the arrangement with a full-time post and alternative employment will be sought for the remaining job-share partner.

For further information, please refer to the Job share policy

Job splitting describes an arrangement where two or more employees share a role by splitting the tasks rather than each doing the full role for part of the time. This may have implications for skill requirements and may therefore affect the grade of a post. Advice should always be sought from an HR Manager where job splitting is considered.

Term-time only working

Term-time only contracts are used in situations when the hours worked by an employee occur only during a school term or a University term. The member of staff may not undertake any work during the vacation, they may only attend important meetings or training events, or they may work reduced hours during vacation periods. Staff nevertheless remain employed during the period/s they do not attend work.

  • Such arrangements are of particular benefit to parents of school-age children since it enables them to spend time at home during the holidays.
  • Term-time only arrangements may be a very cost-effective approach where the nature of the work undertaken is concentrated into term-time (e.g. teaching laboratory technicians or student counsellors). It may, however,be more difficult to arrange in other roles.
  • Salary is usually paid over 12 months.
  • Annual leave may be taken in the vacation or taken as normal during term time as it accrues. Leave will need to be calculated in hours. Instructions and a leave calculator can be accessed from the Policy on Annual Leave
  • Term-time working may not be appropriate in departments where the workload is not linked to academic terms e.g. research units.

Flexitime

Flexitime allows flexibility at the start and end of the working day and also allows an accumulation of hours at busy times and/or to fit the availability of the member of staff. Employees benefit by being able to fit work around personal commitments more easily and the University benefits by having a more flexible workforce that can adapt readily to the normal day-to-day peaks and troughs of workload.

  • Flexitime may help employees to avoid the rush hour traffic in line with the University’s strategic transport plan, or to meet caring commitments at the start or end of the working day.
  • Flexitime may help employees schedule work that does not require contact with others for quieter times of day to improve concentration.
  • It may not always be possible to enable Flexitime schemes where the work must be covered during specific times, for example in customer-facing areas. Where flexitime is possible, arrangements for cover of essential hours/tasks must be clear.
  • Flexitime may assist team working by encouraging staff to arrange cover between them.
  • There are optional features for such schemes which need to be considered, for example what the core hours should be, if any, and whether ‘pop-outs’ should be allowed during those core hours.
  • Appropriate supervision of the scheme will need to be put in place, for example to ensure that employees are not accruing inappropriate amounts of excess hours or running a substantial deficit.
  • An appropriate time recording system may need to be arranged. Formal flexitime schemes require that employees record their working hours. Less formal flexible arrangements may be appropriate for employees who have greater control over the timing and pattern of their work, for example Academic and Research staff.
  • Existing formal and informal schemes that are working effectively may be left in place.

For more information, please refer to the University Policy on Flexitime.

Shift / rota working / staggered hours

Shift Working

Shift working operates in areas where the service provided requires staffing for an extended period, often the full 24-hour day, for example security services. Employees are advised in advance the times that they will be working and the period for which those times will apply. Employees are usually permitted to ‘swap’ shifts with colleagues to address individual circumstances.

  • Shift-working can enable the provision of a service outside normal working hours, although the considerable additional staff costs may mean it is not a viable option.
  • Changing shift times too frequently can be disruptive to the sleep patterns, domestic commitments and leisure interests of staff. Shift organisers should make every effort to avoid frequent or unplanned changes.
  • A shift system requires high staffing levels and with some types of employees that could lead to recruitment problems.

Rota Working/Staggered Hours

This arrangement means that although employees work fixed hours every day the start, finish and/or lunch times are specific to an individual. It enables the work of that section to be covered for a longer working day and can enable managers to improve the service they offer, for example to students.

  • Such arrangements can help employees to avoid the rush hour traffic, or to respond to caring requirements at the start or end of the working day.
  • Where there are no service benefits to be gained by extending hours, the benefits to the employee may be outweighed by requirements for longer periods of heating and lighting, reception or portering support.
  • If the working pattern is not the same every week good communication will be essential to ensure the team knows when everyone is working.
  • The security needs of employees must be given proper consideration where lone and/or out of hours arrangements are in place. Please refer to the University Management Procedure regarding Lone Working Arrangements.

Unpaid leave and career breaks

Unpaid Leave and career breaks allow employees to take an agreed period of time off work to accommodate personal commitments or interests. They may be an effective means of retaining and/or reinvigorating a skilled and experienced employee who might otherwise resign from their post.

  • Managers must consider how the service would be maintained in the absence of the employee. For example, if there are likely to be recruitment difficulties it might be necessary to postpone the start of such leave until they can be overcome.
  • None of the normal employee benefits such as sick pay or accrual of annual leave will apply.
  • Pension contributions will not be paid during any period of unpaid leave, although the employee may if they choose purchase additional pension contributions on their return.
  • Employees who have taken unpaid leave will return to work in their previous role. An employee returning from a career break, however, may be offered an alternative role on terms and conditions that are not less favourable. There may be training needs where that is the case and may be other implications that will need managing
  • Employees on unpaid leave will retain their continuity of service but those on a career break will have their continuous service ‘frozen’ for the duration of their absence. That means, for example, that they will not be entitled to any incremental progression during that time.
  • It is recommended that employees on longer periods of unpaid leave should maintain contact with their department wherever possible. Agreement should be reached on appropriate means of keeping in touch.
  • A re-induction process may be helpful on the return of employees who have taken longer breaks.

These arrangements are separate from emergency leave for care of dependants.

  • Unpaid Leave would normally describe short periods of leave of between 1 day and 3 months. An employee must have 26 weeks’ service to be eligible to apply.
  • Career Breaks would normally describe longer periods of unpaid leave of between 3 and 12 months. An employee must have 2 years’ service to be eligible to apply. For more information see the policy on career breaks.

Flexible retirement

Flexible retirement arrangements allow employees to take advantage of retirement whilst continuing to work for the University. The arrangements provide flexibility for the University to manage the workforce, specifically in the area of retirement planning. It also allows the University to retain employees on a reduced or different working basis (change of hours, change of level/grade or similar) that is mutually acceptable. Subject to pension scheme rules, active members of a pension scheme may remain in the University of York’s employment and may continue to build up pension benefits in the pension scheme whilst drawing some of their accrued pension benefits

The aim of flexible retirement is:

  • To enable employees to balance retirement with their role at the University.
  • To ensure compliance with legislative requirements in terms of enabling employees to have the ability to apply for flexible retirement and to have their applications considered by the University.
  • To accommodate where possible the desire of employees to balance their role at the University with other commitments or interests.

Flexible retirement discussions

In the normal course of regular workplace discussions, for example at the performance review or one to one employee/line manager meetings, the employee may raise the potential for flexible retirement. A discussion around flexible retirement may be helpful to consider the different options available and how appropriate these might be to both the department and the individual.

Pension options

Employees considering retirement are advised to investigate the pension options available and how they may affect their retirement benefits. Information concerning pensions is available on the pensions pages and enquiries concerning retirement and pension benefits should be made to Pensions staff.

Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS)

Active members of USS, in either the final salary or career revalued benefits section, are able to apply to the University to flexibly retire. Full details of the flexible retirement option are available through the USS website:

University of York Pension Fund

Members of the University of York Pension Fund can apply for phased retirement. Full details of arrangements are available in the phased retirement policy.

Non pension members

University employees who are not members of one of the University’s pension schemes may apply to flexibly retire under the Flexible Working Policy and Procedure of the University.

Eligibility

All University employees may be eligible for flexible retirement, subject to the requirements detailed below. Pension scheme rules will determine whether an employee may draw pension benefits as part of flexible retirement.

Requirements

In the first instance University employees are required to apply to the University for consent to flexibly retire, part of which will require a reduction in hours and salary. It is a matter for the University to decide whether or not to consent to an application for flexible retirement.

In submitting an application a member of staff must:

  • Have provided a minimum of six months notice of their intended retirement date,
  • Have worked for the University continuously for a minimum of 26 weeks at the time the request is made,
  • Are eligible under the appropriate pension scheme rules for flexible retirement
  • Not be under probation,
  • Not made another application in the previous twelve months, excluding Flexible Retirement resubmissions.

There may be exceptional circumstances where requests will be considered from employees who do not meet these requirements.

Policy

Flexible working policy

1. Application

1.1 The term 'flexible working' describes any working arrangements where the number of hours worked or the time or place that work is undertaken vary from the standard practice.

1.2 Flexible retirement, an arrangement which is considered a type of flexible working, involves a member of staff reducing his or her contractual hours prior to retiring in full from the University. This may allow the individual to access part of their pension benefits while continuing to work for the University.

1.3 The policy sets out the University’s approach to flexible working arrangements and the procedure details the application process.

1.4 The policy and procedure provide a framework for developing individual flexible working arrangements that meet the requirements of all relevant employment legislation (Employment Rights Act 2002, Work and Families Act 2006) and enable the University to meet its commitment to promoting equality and diversity among employees.

1.5 Guidelines for employees and managers and details of different types of flexible working are available separately.

2. Scope

2.1 This policy applies to all employees who have:

  • worked for the University continuously for 26 weeks at the time the request is made.
  • not made another application in the previous twelve months, excluding flexible retirement resubmissions in accordance with paragraph 2.2

There may be exceptional circumstances where requests will be considered from employees who do not meet these requirements.

2.2 Where a request for flexible retirement is made which is subsequently determined as invalid under the relevant pension scheme, the employee may withdraw and/or modify the application. In such circumstances the employee may resubmit the application as soons as practicable after the original submission, the twelve month rule in paragraph 2.1 not being applicable to any such resubmission.

2.3 Additionally, for those employees considering flexible retirement, this policy applies to all employees who:

  • are not under probation
  • are eligible under the appropriate pension scheme rules for flexible retirement
  • have provided a minimum of six months notice of their intended flexible retirement implementation date

There may be execeptional circumstances where requests will be considered from employees who do not meet these requirements.

2.4 This policy does not cover individuals who are not currently employees but who are applying for a position at the University. Similarly existing employees applying for alternative positions with the University should do so on the basis of the working arrangements advertised and should not assume that it will be possible to maintain any existing flexible working arrangements.

2.5 This policy does not cover agency workers or members of the University's temp pool.

2.6 Employees have a legal right to request flexible working if:

  • they have responsibility for the upbringing of a child under 17 or a child with a disability (i.e. a child in receipt of Disability Living Allowance) under 18 and are the mother, father, adopter, guardian, special guardian, or foster parent of the child; and are making the request in order to care for that child.
  • are or expect to be the carer of an adult who is their spouse, partner, civil partner, or relative, or who lives at the same address and are making the request in order to care for that adult.

2.7 The University recognises that employees outside those categories may also wish to make such requests and all requests will be given due consideration.

3. Aims

3.1 To enable employees with caring responsibilities to balance them with their role at the University.

3.2 To ensure compliance with the legislative requirements for employees with caring responsibilities for children and adults, who have the right to apply to work flexibly and have their application considered by the University.

3.3 To provide a framework within which managers may meet their obligations under the Disability Discrimination Act to consider reasonable adjustments which might enable employees with a disability to continue working.

3.4 To accommodate where possible the desire of employees to balance their role at the University with other commitments or interests.

3.5 To faciltiate flexible retirement, if appropriate.

4. General principles

4.1 The University of York recognises that flexible working arrangements can provide benefits to both the employer and employees. As part of its commitment to providing a positive working environment, the University is committed to enabling employees to achieve an appropriate work-life balance. At the same time the policy will support managers in developing a more flexible workforce in line with service needs.

4.2 The policy does not provide an automatic right to work flexibly and the ability for the University to provide an effective service will be paramount. It is recognised that not all working patterns or flexible working options will be suitable for all departments or sections. It may also be difficult to accommodate the flexible working requests of a number of employees in the same area.

4.3 There are already many employees who work flexibly as a result of informal requests made to their Department. This policy does not aim to change existing arrangements but to provide a framework which clarifies the process for managers and employees for the future.

4.4 The guidelines and information sheets that accompany this policy, or associated policies provide details of the flexible working arrangements that will be considered within the University:

  • Type of working
  • Part-time working / change of hours
  • Job share and job splitting
  • Term-time only working
  • Flexitime
  • Shift working / rota working / staggered hours
  • Unpaid leave and career breaks
  • Flexible retirement

The flexible working arrangements available to staff will be kept under review and, subject to feasibility, may be amended from time to time.

4.5 Requests will be considered with due regard to the University’s commitment to promoting equality and diversity among employees.

5. Monitoring and Review of Policy

Application of the policy will be monitored by the Director of Human Resources. Statistics regarding formal requests will be reported to HR Policy Committee. The policy will be reviewed after four years.

6. Approval

Approved by Policies and Development Temporary Working Group, April 2012

7. Related Documents

Document Control

Title:
Flexible working policy
Applicable to:
All staff (except agency and temp pool)
Date Last Reviewed:
April 2012
Procedure Owner:
Human Resources

Procedure

1. Making an application

1.1 Employees who wish to be considered for flexible working arrangements should discuss this in the first instance with their line manager.

1.2 Employees should then apply in writing to their Line Manager using form FWR1, normally at least twelve weeks before they wish the proposed arrangements to commence. Applications for flexible retirement must be made a minimum of six months prior to the intended implementation date. There may be exceptional circumstances where requests will be considered from employees who do not meet this requirement.

Where the application is incomplete the line manager should request further information from the member(s) of staff and ask them to re-submit their application. Where this occurs the date of re-submission will constitute the formal date of application.

2. Considering an application

2.1 When considering a request for flexible working arrangements managers and HoDs will evaluate the potential benefits of the proposal to the department, the section and/or the employee(s). However, where difficulties are foreseen and a refusal is considered then it must be on one of the following grounds:

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

Where a request for flexible retirement is made whcih is subsequently determined as invalid under the relevant pension scheme rules, upon communication of this fact the member of staff may be given the opportunity to withdraw or modify the application.

2.2 On receiving a request the line manager will acknowledge receipt of form FWR1 within 7 days and will give due consideration to the request. S/he will complete the FWR1 form before passing promptly to the Head of Department (HoD) for a decision.

2.3 The HoD will give the request due consideration, taking into account the comments of both employee(s) and line manager. The HoD may wish to take advice from their HR Manager.

2.4 Where the HoD feels s/he can agree to the request without difficulty s/he will ask the employee(s) and line manager to agree an implementation date and will then complete the response section of FWR1. S/her will return a copy to the employee(s) as soon as possible and certainly within 28 days. A copy should also be sent to HR Services at hr-enquiries@york.ac.uk

2.4.1 Once a request for flexible retirement has been approved by the HoD, the FWR1 must be forwarded to Human Resources immediately for the Pensions team to initiate the flexible retirement process. The start date of any flexible retirement implementation will be dependant upon confirmation from the relevant pension scheme.

2.5 Where a trial period is undertaken prior to final approval (see 2.11 below) the documentation will reflect the temporary nature of the change and will specify the review date.

2.6 Where the HoD feels there may be difficulties in agreeing to the request they should arrange to meet with the line manager and requesting employee(s), who may be accompanied by a work colleague or trades union representative if required. The meeting should take place as soon as possible and certainly within 28 days of receipt of the request.

2.7 A response to the employee(s) must be given within 28 days of the FWR1 form being submitted, unless the manager who would normally consider the request is on annual leave or sick leave. In that case the response must be given within 28 days of the manager's return. Where the absence of the manager may mean that the application would not be considered within 28 days of submission, an alternate line manager must be appointed to consider the application. The response in such circumstances must be given within 28 days of the appointment of the alternate line manager.

2.8 All applications will be considered on their merits, taking into account the needs of the service and the benefits to the employee(s). Within 14 days of the meeting the HoD will write to the employee(s) to either agree to the request and give a start date or to refuse the request and specify the reason for the refusal. A refusal must be for one of the reasons detailed at 2.1.

2.8.1 Where a request for flexible retirement is contingent upon the individual being able to access pensions benefits, confirmation from the relevant pension scheme will be required before the intended flexible retirement implemenation date in order to determine any new working arrangements.

2.9 If the request is not granted the letter will include details of the appeal process. In either case a copy of the letter and FWR1 should be sent to HR Services.

2.10 The timescales in this procedure may be extended by agreement, for example where annual leave occurs, or where the person chosen to accompany the employee(s) is not available, or to enable the University to investigate further before notifying the member(s) of staff of the final decision. However, a decision will not be unduly delayed.

2.11 There will normally be a trial period of new flexible working arrangements during which managers will monitor any issues that arise and do their best to resolve them. Where the trial proves satisfactory, agreement to the arrangements will be given in writing. However, there may be occasions where issues arise during a trial period that are impossible to resolve and of such a nature (see 2.1) that the manager concludes the arrangements cannot continue. S/he will confirm that in writing and the employee(s) will then revert to their former working pattern or other agreed arrangement. Form FWR2 (Flexible Working Review Form) should be used to record the outcome of any discussions that take place during a trial period for flexible working arrangements. Trial periods are not possible in cases of flexible retirement.

2.12 In the absence of, or following a trial period a successful application would normally result in a permanent change to the employee(s) contractual terms and/or working arrangements. However, there may be occasions where the new working arrangements are of a temporary nature by agreement and/or are subject to review at a specified date.

3. Appeals Procedure

3.1 Employee(s) may submit an appeal to the Director of Human Resources if they believe that their request for flexible working arrangements:

  • has not been considered using the correct procedure or
  • has been refused for reasons other than those in 2.1 above
  • has been refused based on incorrect facts

3.2 An appeal should be in writing, should be submitted within 14 days of the date of the letter detailing the outcome of the requests (see 2.8 above) and should give the grounds for appeal.

3.3 The Director of Human Resources will arrange for an appropriate manager (not previously involved in the case) to convene a meeting of interested parties within 14 days of the date of the appeal in order to review the case. The member of staff may be accompanied at the meeting by a work colleague or Trades Union representative.

3.4 The designated manager will provide the employee(s) with written notification of the outcome of the appeal within 14 days. The letter will be dated and will include the reasons for the decision in the event of a refusal, or an implementation date where the appeal is successful.

3.5 The appeal decision is final. A further flexible working request may not be made within twelve months of the date of the appeal, or, where no appeal was submitted, of the date of the decision letter (see 2.9).

3.6 The timescales in the appeal procedure may be extended by written agreement, for example where annual leave occurs, or where the person chosen to accompany the employee(s) is not available, or to enable the University to investigate further before notifying the member(s) of staff of the final decision. However, a decision will not be unduly delayed. Extensions and the relevant dates should be recorded in writing and sent to the employee(s).

4. Withdrawal of an application

4.1 Employee(s) may withdraw an application for flexible working at any time during the process up to the point that written approval has been given and a start date notified to them. The intention to withdraw the application may be notified to the line manager orally or in writing and will be confirmed in writing by the line manager.

4.2 A line manager may consider an application to have been withdrawn if the employee(s) without good cause:

  • fails to provide them with information that has been appropriately requested.
  • fails to attend two meetings that have been appropriately arranged to discuss the request.

In these circumstances the line manager should write to the employee(s) confirming that the application has been considered to be withdrawn.

4.3 In the event of the withdrawal of an application the member(s) of staff may not apply again within a twelve month period, excluding flexible retirement resubmissions in accordance with paragraph 4.4.

4.4 Where a request for flexible retirement is made which is subsequently determined as invalid under the relevant pension scheme rule, the employee may resubmit the application as soons as practicable after the original submission, the twelve month rule defined paragraph 4.3 not being applicable to any such resubmission.

This policy is not contractual and is not intended to be incorporated into individual terms and conditions of employment. It may be subject to review, amendment or withdrawal.

Document Control

Title:
Flexible working procedure
Applicable to:
All staff (except agency and temp pool)
Date Last Reviewed:
April 2012
Procedure Owner:
Human Resources