- 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 the flexible working request form 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.