Flexible working policy

Introduction

  1. The University is committed to equality of opportunity in employment for all its staff and to developing work practices and human resource policies that support work-life balance. The University seeks to offer employees alternative working patterns that will help them to strike a balance between paid work and personal life.
  2. The University’s policy on requests to change hours and patterns of work gives all staff an entitlement to request a change to their working pattern. Faculty/Directorate managers are encouraged to accommodate such requests and must provide clear business or operational reasons if the request is declined.
  3. It is evident that some roles within Faculties/Directorates are less adaptable to the flexible working options outlined below. In these cases managers are recommended to consider other methods of offering staff a more flexible working pattern. Managers should consult with their link HR Manager in the Directorate of Human Resources for information and support on flexible working. Flexible working options should be considered as a method of accommodating the needs of staff when required to work evenings and weekends.
  4.  The aims of the flexible working policy are to improve the working conditions of staff by better enabling them to combine their work and personal life and to improve the utilisation of staff.

Flexi-time

  1. Subject to service demands, and agreement at a departmental level, employees may vary the time they commence and finish work and the length of their lunch break. Time worked between 08.00 and 18.00 counts towards the working week and employees must be at work during the core hours subject to annual and other leave provisions.
    •  Core time: 10.00 hours to 12.00 hours and 14.00 hours to 16.00 hours
    • Lunch Break: the lunch break, which must be not less than30 minutes, must be taken between 12.00 and 14.00 hours
  2. The standard accounting period for flexi-time will be four weeks (i.e. 13 accounting periods of 148 hours in each year).   The University’s flexi-time scheme applies to part-time workers and job-sharers in the same way as to full-time employees, with the same conditions for taking flexi-leave.
  3. The responsibility for the efficient operation of the scheme rests primarily with line managers. The operation of the flexi-time scheme is based on the acceptance that the University’s operational needs take precedence over personal preferences. (For example, an employee required to attend a meeting which begins at 9.30 am will be expected to arrive at work in time for that meeting). Individual employees will not be permitted to work hours that impair the efficiency of his/her team or work group.
  4. Management reserves the right to discontinue the operation of the flexi-time scheme in any part of the university should it become evident that the efficiency of the Faculty/Directorate concerned is being seriously affected.

Overtime

  1. Overtime falls outside the flexible working hours arrangements. It is defined as any time that a employee is required by their line manager to work before 08.30 hours or after 17.30 hours (or 17.00 hours on a Friday).
  2. Such hours will not be included in the flexi-time accounting period hours but staff eligible for overtime payments will be paid at overtime rates for those hours.
  3. The recording of overtime is the responsibility of management. Overtime will only be payable if authorised in advance by the Director/Dean of Faculty.

Management of the scheme

  1. Employees must record their times of arrival, departure and lunch periods on the designated form. At the end of each accounting period, this form must be submitted to the line manager for approval and signature.
  2. Periods of absence for annual leave, sick leave, or other authorised paid absences will also be recorded on the form. The time credit for whole days absences will be 7½ hours on Mondays to Thursdays and 7 hours on Fridays. Half days will be credited at 3¾ hours Mondays to Thursdays, and 3½ hours on Fridays.
  3. For absences of less than a complete half or full day, the actual hours of authorised absence will be credited using the “normal” hours of starting and finishing in the department.
  4. A maximum of eight credit or debit hours may be carried forward into the next accounting period.
  5. Credit hours in excess of eight will be lost except where a employee has been required by their line manager to work specific hours in the last week of a settlement period and as a result has exceeded 156 hours in total.
  6. Where a sufficient build up of hours arises, employees will be entitled to take, with the prior agreement of their line manager, one full day or two half day periods of credit leave in each four week accounting period, on condition that the operational efficiency of the department concerned will not be compromised.
  7. Where a half-day flexi-credit leave period is taken employees must work the minimum hours for the other half of the day of 10.00 to 12.00 or 14.00 to 16.00.
  8. Employees may arrive or leave at their discretion within the flexible bands, subject always to the overriding needs of the job
  9. Line managers will have discretion to permit leave of absence for personal reasons during core time. In exercising that discretion, regard will be given to whether the absence might reasonably be taken outside core time. Such leave will normally be unpaid but in the case of medical appointments, the leave may be paid leave.
  10. Line managers have discretion to vary either of these normal arrangements and to grant paid leave in connection with medical appointments in the lunch time flexible band if they consider it appropriate.
  11. Any employee who misappropriates time with intent to defraud will be subject to disciplinary action, which could ultimately lead to dismissal.

Compressed working hours

  1. Employees may request to work their total number of hours over fewer days. Examples of compressed hours working patterns include working time being reorganised to allow the weekly hours to be worked in 4 or 4 ½ days a week or over 9 days each fortnight. The maximum number of hours that can be worked in any one day is 10. A minimum lunch break of half an hour must be taken.
  2. Employees can request a change to their pattern of work using the Change in hours/patterns of work form (see policy on Requests to Change Hours of Work and Patterns of Work). Wherever possible, requests should be submitted at least 2 months before the proposed new pattern of working hours would begin.
  3. Requests to work compressed hours will be considered, in the first instance, by the Line Manager in consultation with the link HR Manager in the Directorate of Human Resources. The line manager should consult with the relevant Dean or Director and be satisfied that any such request will not have a detrimental impact on service delivery or on the effectiveness of the Directorate/Faculty or team. Approval of a request or an amended version of it will depend primarily on the operational demands of the service.  
  4. Once a compressed hours working pattern is agreed, it is fixed for an initial trial period as agreed by the employee and their line manager. The agreement will be reviewed at the end of the trial period. If both parties agree to the revised working pattern it will then be fixed for a minimum period of 12 months.
  5. The working pattern will be automatically reviewed at the end of 12 months, but may be reviewed before then through written application to the Dean of Faculty/Directorate and the Director of Human Resources
  6. Working compressed hours will not affect an employee’s basic pay or annual leave entitlement.
  7. Any employee who feels that they have been unreasonably refused a request to work compressed hours should refer to the procedures laid down in section 9.  

Shift swapping

  1. Subject to service demands, employees may, in consultation with their line manager swap shifts with each other, as long as they ensure that agreed staffing levels are met at all times.
  2. Whether a request is approved or not will depend upon the circumstances of each case. The line manager will have to be satisfied that any such request will not have a detrimental impact on service delivery or on the effectiveness of the Directorate/Faculty.  

Self-rostering

  1. Self-rostering allows staff, in consultation with their line manager to schedule their working day to meet the requirements of service delivery in a particular department. Using agreed levels of required staffing as a guide, employees can put forward the times they would like to work. Shift patterns are then compiled, matching staff preferences as far as is possible, and ensuring that agreed staffing levels are met.
  2. Requests to instigate a system of self-rostering will be considered, in the first instance, by the relevant line manager in consultation with the link HR manager in the Directorate of Human Resources. The line manager will have to be satisfied that any such request will not have a detrimental impact on service delivery or on the rest of the Directorate/Faculty. Approval of a request or an amended version of it will depend primarily on the operational demands of the service.
  3. For a scheme of this sort to be established it is necessary for all staff within a team to agree to participate. After consultation with the line manager, if it is agreed that a trial period of self rostering can go ahead staff will be expected, as a team to do the following on a monthly basis:
    • Individually state their preferred working hours
    • Identify hours which they specifically do not want to work – ‘veto hours’
    • Review the resulting draft roster to see if there are mismatches between available staff and hours which must be covered
    • Agree a final roster to cover all hours required.
  4. Employees who have concerns about the operation of the scheme should refer them to the line manager who has responsibility for ensuring that it operates equitably and ethically.

Part year working

  1. Part year working allows employees to work a reduced number of weeks in the year. The additional time away from work could be taken to coincide with school holidays or to allow an extended break.
  2. Employees can request a change to their pattern of work to allow part year working using the change in hours/patterns of work form (see policy on Requests to Change Hours and/or Patterns of Work). Employees should normally submit requests at least two months before they want to start their proposed new pattern of work.
  3. Once a part year working pattern is agreed it will be fixed for the academic year in which it is agreed and will automatically be reviewed at the end of that year, but there is the discretion to have the arrangements reviewed earlier through written application to the Dean or Director of the Faculty/Directorate and the Director of Human Resources.
  4. Requests for part year working will be considered, in the first instance, by the employee’s line manager in consultation with the link HR manager in the Directorate of Human Resources and the relevant Dean/Director. The line manager must be satisfied that any such working pattern will not have a detrimental impact on service delivery or on the effectiveness of the Directorate/Faculty or team.  

Working from home or other flexible location

  1. Requests for home-working will be considered in relation to any job role that may be carried out equally on site or from a remote location, usually the employee’s home. It is evident that some roles do not lend themselves to any form of homeworking as they can only be carried out on site. In some roles (e.g. academic staff) working from home is already common practice, and may be managed on an informal and ad hoc basis.

Types of homeworking

  1. The University is willing to support the following models of homeworking, depending on the circumstances of the role and operational requirements.

Occasional homeworking

  1. This could involve, for example, carrying out specific tasks, which require a high level of concentration and/or minimum interruptions, at home.

Regular scheduled homeworking on either a weekly or monthly basis

  1. This could involve, for example, carrying out regular work from home that simply requires access to a computer, or any other type of work that could be done appropriately and effectively from a remote location.

Designated homeworking

  1. In this instance staff are officially designated as ‘homeworkers’ and are provided by the University with adequate facilities in order to work from home. Office accommodation for designated homeworkers on site is shared.
  2. All employees who work from home, whether on an occasional or regular basis or as designated homeworkers, must be contactable, if necessary, during normal working hours on work related matters.

Guidelines for requesting and agreeing to homeworking

  1. Requests for home-working, whether on an occasional or regular basis will be considered, in the first instance, by the line manager in consultation with the link HR manager in the Directorate of Human Resources and the relevant Dean or Director. Whether a request is approved or not depends on the circumstances of each case and its impact on the day-to-day work of the Faculty/Directorate.
  2. Requests to become a designated homeworker must be fully discussed with the Directorate of Human Resources before any agreement is reached to allow detailed consideration of the health and safety risks and assessment of the home workplace. Whether a request is approved or not depends on the circumstances of each case and its impact on the day-to-day work of the Faculty/Directorate
  3. It is recognized that some types of contract within the University, for example those of academic staff, enjoy a certain degree of flexibility which is self-managed by individual employees, and therefore it may not be necessary to seek formal agreement to work from home either on an occasional or regular basis provided that the Head of Department/Dean/Director is aware of such practice and has no objections to it.
  4. When dealing with a request for homeworking, line managers must consider the following points:
    • Whether the job involves the handling, processing or creation of information, rather than the delivery of a service that needs to take place on site (e.g. teaching in a classroom, working as a receptionist, maintaining buildings or equipment etc.)
    • Whether the employee can access required information easily and quickly from home.
    • Whether the output of the work to be done from home can be clearly defined and monitored.
    • Whether communication can be carried out effectively with an employee who is working from home.
    • Whether the absence of the employee from the workplace might potentially inhibit the day-to-day work of colleagues and/or their department.
  5. Consideration should also be given to the advantages that homeworking could present for the University, and for the employee. For the University these include:
    • Less pressure on office space (when fixed patterns of homeworking permit hot-desking or shared office facilities), and on car parking.
    • Improved staff morale and loyalty by making them feel trusted and enabling them to enhance their work activities through choosing their preferred work location.
    • Increased staff productivity and flexibility
    • In some instances, as for example in the case of designated homeworking, a reduction in the University’s costs of accommodation.
    For the employee, benefits of homeworking include:
    • Reduced travel time and associated costs both direct and indirect.
    • Greater flexibility and improved work-life balance.
    • Greater autonomy in managing the work.
    • Improved ‘quality’ of working time.
  6. Before approving a homeworking arrangement the Faculty or Directorate must be satisfied that health and safety regulations have been fully complied with. The University’s Health and Safety Officer must have been consulted and given approval. Under the Health and Safety at Work Act, the University is required to take all reasonable steps to protect the health, safety and welfare of its staff wherever they carry out their work and this includes their home. Other regulations that apply to staff working from home include: the Management of Health and Safety Work Regulations 1992, the Display Screen Equipment Regulations 1992, the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992, the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1992 and the Control of Substances Hazardous To Health Regulations 1992.
  7. In order to ensure that the proposed pattern of homeworking complies with health and safety regulations a risk assessment must be undertaken at the employee’s home either on self-managed basis or carried out by the University’s Health and Safety Officer.
  8. When employees requesting to work from home occasionally or regularly the risk assessment can take the form of a self-assessment. The University Health and Safety Officer will provide guidance (including the Homeworking Implementation Guidelines) to enable employees to undertake the assessment.
  9. In order to ensure it is fulfilling its duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of its staff the University may, in some instances, require the risk assessments undertaken at the employee’s home for staff requesting to work from home occasionally or regularly to be carried out by the University Health and Safety Officer, together with a representative of the Faculty/Directorate.
  10. In the case of designated homeworking a risk assessment at the employee’s home will normally be carried out by the University Health and Safety Officer together with a representative of the Faculty/Directorate.
  11. A request for homeworking is likely to be refused if the outcome of a risk assessment is unsatisfactory.
  12. Homeworking, particularly in the case of designated homeworking, may have implications for an employee’s mortgage and home insurance. Employees working from home will also be taxed on any payment received from the University to reimburse expenses incurred as a result of working from home. Employees must ensure that they have taken these factors into consideration before deciding to work from home. Employees should consult the University Implementation Guidelines on Homeworking for further information on these issues.
  13. Working from home is a voluntary arrangement and the University will not require employees to become homeworkers.
  14. Becoming a designated homeworker involves a change in the contract of employment to reflect the new work location. The details of an agreed homeworking arrangement will be confirmed in writing by the Directorate of Human Resources, and signed by the employee and their line manager.
  15. Designated homeworking agreements will be reviewed on an annual basis. The University reserves the right to require a designated homeworker to return to an on-site agreement if they feel that the absence of the employee from the office is affecting the quality of their work, is inhibiting the day to day work of colleagues and/or their department or (in the case of teaching staff) is having a negative impact on the employee’s students.
  16. An employee who has chosen to become a designated homeworker may ask to revert back to work primarily on-site. In this case arrangements will be made by the University as soon as is reasonably practicable to accommodate such a request.
  17. Where an applicant wishes to be considered for a post as a designated homeworker a job offer can only be made on the understanding that it is subject to a satisfactory risk assessment being undertaken at the potential employee’s home, a full discussion of the possible health and safety risks and a review of the likely impact on the day-to-day work of the Faculty/Directorate involved.
  18. It must be made clear to applicants that a request for homeworking is likely to be refused if the outcome of a risk assessment is unsatisfactory. It should also be emphasised that homeworking agreements will be reviewed on an annual basis and that the University reserves the right to require a homeworker to return to an on-site agreement if they feel that the absence of the employee from the office is affecting the quality of their work, is inhibiting the day to day work of colleagues and/or their department or (in the case of teaching staff) is having a negative impact on the employee’s students.

Job share

  1. Job sharing is defined as two (or more) employees voluntarily sharing the duties and responsibilities of one full-time post.
  2. All full-time posts are deemed to be potentially open to job sharing unless an exemption has been agreed with the Directorate of Human Resources before a job is advertised, and job advertisements will make this clear. Guidance on exemption should be sought from the Directorate of Human Resources when the post becomes vacant, or when a request for a job share is received from an employee already in post.
  3. The arrangement of hours in a shared post should be determined by the line manager in consultation with the job sharers, taking into account the following factors:
    • The needs of the service, Faculty/Directorate and/or team.
    • Limitations on accommodation, equipment, etc.
    • The need to ensure that, in the event of one sharer leaving, the remaining hours form a sufficiently viable package to attract new applicants.
    • The preferences and availability of the sharers.
    • The desirability of building in some “overlap” or liaison time. The total hours worked by the job sharers should never exceed the established hours of the post
  4. The distribution of the duties and responsibilities of a shared post should be determined by the line manager in consultation with the job sharers, having regard to the needs of the service, Faculty/Directorate and to any particular skills or interests possessed by the sharers. However, the overall responsibility should always be shared and both partners should always be in a position to show that at some time each had fulfilled the duties and responsibilities of the whole post.
  5. When recruitment takes place to a vacant post and job sharers are among the candidates, the general principle of appointing the best person for the job will apply.
  6. When an applicant does not apply with a partner, the application should be assessed in the same way as applications from other candidates. If in the opinion of the selection panel he or she is the best candidate, a part-time appointment should be offered and the remaining hours advertised as a job share vacancy. In some cases it may be possible to “match up” two applicants wishing to job share who have applied individually.
  7. When a joint job share application is received, it should be assessed in the same way as applications from other candidates. It is recommended that joint candidates should be interviewed separately, to assess their individual ability to do the job, and then briefly together, to discuss their joint application. Selection panels may, if they feel it appropriate, make an offer of appointment to only one partner in a joint application. They may then re-advertise the remaining hours or offer them to another job share applicant.
  8. Applications from existing employees to job share their current post (including applications from employees returning from maternity or paternity leave) should be considered sympathetically and promptly. If the line manager or Dean of Faculty/Director believes that the post is not suitable for sharing the Directorate of Human Resources should be consulted.
  9. In the event of one job sharer leaving, the hours of work previously undertaken by that person should normally be offered in the first instance to the remaining job sharer. If the remaining job sharer does not wish to accept a full-time appointment, another job sharing partner should be sought by advertising. If no suitable job sharing partner can be found within a reasonable period, alternative arrangements for covering the duties of the job will need to be considered including, if necessary, the redeployment of the remaining job sharer.
  10. Job sharers’ conditions of service will normally be equivalent to other part-time employees, i.e., on a pro-rata basis according to the number of hours worked. Guidance on particular aspects of conditions of service is available from the Directorate of Human Resources. It should be noted that, although job sharers will be on the same grade, they need not necessarily be on the same point of the scale.
  11. As indicated in paragraph 69 above, it is not necessary for a job share applicant to apply with a partner in order to be appointed. However, joint appointments result in less expenditure on advertising and reduced recruitment administration.

Scheme for additional planned unpaid leave

  1. Employees may opt to add up to 5 additional days unpaid leave per year to their annual leave entitlement at the beginning of the leave year (or in the case of new staff, the start of their employment with the University). The cost of the additional days will be calculated using the employee's hourly rate of pay and be spread throughout the leave year (or what remains of it in the case of new staff) meaning that the impact of any loss of salary is spread over a longer time period.
    Please note: Additional unpaid leave for part-time staff will be calculated on a pro-rata basis.
  2. The scheme is intended to offer staff additional planned leave and does not in any way affect their right to request leave under the University’s policies for compassionate leave or special leave.
  3. No more than 5 days leave in total (including any additional days the employee has chosen to take) can be carried forward into the next holiday year.

    Each additional day’s leave will be costed using the employee’s hourly rate of pay. Hourly rates of pay are calculated as follows:

    Annual salary/365(days per year) x 7 (days per week) = weeks per year /hours per week = Hourly rate

    Example for a member of staff currently working 1 fte on point 1 of Grade 6:

    (£18,517÷365) x 7 = £355.11 per week

    £355.11÷37 = £9.60 per hour.

    Similarly for a member if staff currently working 0.5 fte on point 1 of Grade 6:

    (£9258.5÷365) x 7 = £177.56 per week

    £177.56÷18.5 = £9.60 per hour.

    For an employee working 7.4 hours per day, an additional day's leave would therefore be costed at:

    7.4 hours x £9.60 = £71.04 gross per day

  4. In some circumstances adding additional unpaid leave to their holiday entitlement may not be the most appropriate arrangement for individual employees. In such instances alternative arrangements more appropriate to the individual case may be agreed between the employee and their Faculty/Directorate. Alternative arrangements could include leave in accordance with the University’s policies for Maternity Leave, Adoption Leave, Parental Leave, Paternity/Maternity Support Leave, Compassionate, Domestic Emergency and Bereavement Leave, Career Breaks or Flexible Working (see elsewhere in this policy). The suitability of any of the above for any situation should be considered as a possible alternative if it is appropriate.
  5. Staff interested in using the scheme should discuss their request with their line manager and apply to their link HR manager using the Additional Planned leave form. The form should be submitted at least one month before the start of the holiday year or as soon as is reasonably practicable in the case of new staff.

Refusal of a request for a flexible working pattern

  1. Staff who feel that they have been unreasonably refused the right to a flexible working pattern or who feel that they have been victimised for requesting a flexible working pattern should, in the first instance raise the matter with their line manager and inform their link HR manager. They can also consult with their union and have the right to raise the matter through the grievance procedure.
  2. Any complaints will be recorded by the Directorate of Human Resources and reported to the Work-Life Balance Steering Group. They will be monitored, with the aim of bringing about consistency between Faculties and Directorates in the way that policies related to work-life balance are implemented throughout the University.