Requests to change hours of work and patterns of work


The University is committed to equality of opportunity in employment for all its employees and to developing work practices and human resource policies that support work-life balance. This policy statement extends the provisions contained in the Employment Relations Act (1999) and the Maternity and Paternity Leave (Amendment) Act 2001.

The aim of this policy is to inform employees and managers of employment rights relating to requests to change hours and patterns of work and to provide a framework for the decision making process.

The University has a responsibility to maintain services in order to meet business needs and there is no automatic right to work flexibly, however managers are encouraged to try to accommodate an employees desired work pattern where possible.

Statutory entitlement

As from 6th April 2009 employees with 26 weeks continuous service with the University who have a child under the age of 16 or a disabled child under the age of 18 have enjoyed the statutory right to request a change in their working hours, and from April 2007 this right was extended to cover carers of adults.

An application to work flexibly can cover:

  • Hours of work
  • Times of work
  • Place of work (as between home and place of business only)

Additional Oxford Brookes entitlement

As a reflection of its commitment to offering flexible working patterns, and helping employees balance paid work and their personal life, the University has extended the entitlement to request a change of hours and/or pattern of work to all employees with 26 weeks continuous service.

Procedure for requesting a change to hours of work/working pattern

To initiate a request, employees should read the notes for guidance for employees, complete the change in working hours/pattern of work form, give it to their Dean of Faculty or, in the case of Directorates, their Director and send a copy to their link HR manager and line manager at least 2 months before they want to start the proposed new pattern of working hours. The Dean or Director should immediately sign it to acknowledge receipt and forward it to the link HR Manager in the Directorate of Human Resources.

HR will immediately send the Dean/Director the notes for guidance for managers on the decision making process and the accompanying response form. The Dean or Director may choose to determine the request themselves or to delegate responsibility to an appropriate person such as the employee’s line manager.

The Dean/Director or the person to whom the decision has been delegated should read the notes for guidance and arrange to meet the employee within 28 days of the Dean/Director signing the Change in Hours/Patterns of Work form. The meeting will review issues relating to the request and consider whether any proposed change meets the needs of the individual and the organisation. The employee and/or the manager may wish the link HR Manager to attend the meeting in which case they should liaise with HR to find a mutually acceptable date and time.

Managers must ensure that employees are aware of their right to be accompanied by a fellow employee or a trade union representative at all meetings.

Meetings should be arranged for dates and times when all those involved can be available.

If it is likely to be difficult for management to respond within the 28 day time limit the employee should be advised that there may be a delay and told when a response can be expected. Time limits may only be varied by mutual agreement.

Any agreement made to change the hours worked will be a permanent change or 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, after an initial trial period both parties agree to the revised working pattern it will become a permanent change.

Notification of the decisions about changing hours/working pattern

Following the initial meeting, which is known as the Change in Hours/Pattern of Work Meeting, the Dean/Director or the person to whom the decision has been delegated must, in consultation with HR, complete the Response Form and send it to their link HR manager within 7 days. The link HR Manager will then, within 14 days of the initial meeting, inform the employee in writing of management’s decision. The decision letter will let the employee know whether a change in hours/working pattern is possible and what the agreed working arrangements will be.

Where a change in hours/working pattern is not possible the justification for the decision will be described fully in the letter using the reasons set out in the Response Form. The grounds for not accepting an employee’s proposal must fall into one or more of the following categories.

  • 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 period the employee proposes to work
  • Planned structural changes

The explanation given in the letter must include accurate and relevant details as to why and how the business grounds apply and must also advise the employee of their statutory right to appeal against the decision to refuse their request.

Documentation of decisions and decision making process

The responsibility for managing procedures and processes in support of this policy rests with Faculties/Directorates and the Directorate of Human Resources as appropriate.

Decisions made as a result of this policy will be clearly documented. Where the request to change hours is refused, the reasons for this decision should be recorded. Once completed all relevant paperwork will be held on the employee’s personnel file including a copy of the letter that sets out any agreed changes to working arrangements This will ensure transparency, accountability and the ability to maintain an audit trail and demonstrate the University’s decision making and thought process.

Further applications to change hours of work/working pattern

Once an application for a change in hours or pattern of work has been made, an employee may not make another application within a 12 month period beginning with the date on which Change in Hours/Pattern of Work Form was submitted and signed in acknowledgement of receipt by the line manager.

Employees have a legal right to request any agreed changes to be reviewed after 12 months by re-applying for a change in hours and completing the form but there is the discretion to have the arrangements reviewed before then through written application to the Dean of Faculty/Directorate and the Director of Human Resources.

Appeals process

Employees who wish to appeal a decision made under this procedure should complete the Flexible Working Appeal Form and send it to the Director of Human Resources within 14 days of the refusal notification. The Director, together with another Dean or Director will meet with the employee (who may be accompanied by another employee or a trade union representative) within 14 days of the receipt of the appeal letter.

The appeal meeting provides an opportunity for the employee to provide further evidence to support their case which may not have been presented or available when the application was refused, and/or to question the reasons/facts given by management for refusing the application.

Before the appeal panel hearing takes place managers will be offered the opportunity to consider any further evidence presented on the Flexible Working Appeal Form and given a final opportunity to present evidence to support their position.

If, during the appeal panel meeting, issues arise that require clarification the panel may request an adjournment to seek further information. Any adjournment and subsequent reconvening of the meeting must be managed to ensure that a final decision can be made which conforms to the time frames laid out below. These time limits may only be varied by mutual agreement.

The appeal panel’s decision will be given in writing to the employee and manager within 14 working days of the initial appeal panel meeting.

Employees who still feel that they have been unreasonably refused the right to change their hours or pattern of work or who feel that they have been victimised for requesting a change can consult with their union and/or have the right to raise the matter through the grievance procedure.

Any complaints will be recorded by the Directorate of Human Resources. 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.

Policy update and responsibilities

This policy was last updated in May 2008 and will next be reviewed in May 2009.

Responsibility for this policy lies with the HR Team (Equal Opportunity and Diversity).