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 a flexible working request form, 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, however, even in exceptional cases, all requests involving flexible retirement from USS must be approved at least three months before the intended retirement date in order to meet USS' timescales.
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.
2.1 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:
- The burden of additional costs
- A detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand
- An inability to reorganise work among existing staff
- An inability to recruit additional staff
- A detrimental impact on quality
- A detrimental impact on performance
- Insufficiency of work during the periods the employee proposes to work or
- Planned structural changes
Where a request for flexible retirement is made which 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. They 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 they can agree to the request without difficulty they will ask the employee(s) and line manager to agree an implementation date and will then complete the response section of FWR1. They 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 email@example.com
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 dependent 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 pension 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. A 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.
3.1 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 request (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).
4.1 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 soon as practicable after the original submission, the twelve month rule defined in paragraph 4.3 not being applicable to any such resubmission.