Flexible Working for Working Parents and Carers of Adults
3. Making a Request for Flexible Working
4. Review of Procedure
5. Advice and Guidance
It is expected that the majority of requests for flexible working, including those from working parents, can be accommodated under the University's Work - Life Balance Policy. For those parents or carers who are eligible (please refer to Section 2.1 Eligibility) and do not feel that their application has been fully considered under the University's Work - Life Balance Policy, the University has developed a separate procedure which complies with The Flexible Working (Procedural Requirements) Regulations 2002 and the Work and Families Act 2006. Under these regulations eligible parents of children aged 16 or under or of disabled children aged under 18 have the right to apply to work flexibly and for their applications to work flexibly to be considered. The regulations do not provide an automatic right to work flexibly as there may be circumstances when the University is unable to accommodate the member of staff's desired work pattern.
In this process, the member of staff has a responsibility to think carefully about their desired working pattern when making an application, and the University will follow the guidelines below to ensure that requests are fully considered.
To qualify to make a request under the Flexible Working for Working Parents Procedure, a member of staff must:
- be an employee of the University;
- be the parent* of a child, as defined below, 16 or under, or under 18 in the case of a disabled child OR be the carer of an adult;
- have worked for the University continuously for 26 weeks at the date the application is made;
- make the application no later than two weeks before the child's 17th birthday or 18th birthday in the case of a disabled child;
- have or expect to have responsibility for the child's upbringing OR have caring responsibilities for an adult;
- be making the application to enable them to care for the child or adult;
- not have made another application to work flexibly under the right during the past 12 months.
* The member of staff must be either:
- the mother, father, adopter, guardian or foster parent of the child; or married to or the partner of the child's mother, father, adopter, guardian or foster parent OR have caring responsibilities for an adult;
- have, or expect to have, responsibility for the upbringing of the child or adult.
The purpose in making the request must be to enable the member of staff to care for someone who, at the time of the application, is a child or adult who satisfies the conditions of eligibility as to the relationship, as defined above.
The University shall consider requests that fall outside of the legislative provisions on a discretionary basis and according to the individual circumstances.
3. Making a Request for Flexible Working
3.1 Scope of a Request
Eligible members of staff can request a change to their terms and conditions of employment if the change relates to:
- the hours when they are required to work;
- the times when they are required to work;
- where, as between home and the University, they are required to work.
3.2 Making an Application
In compliance with The Flexible Working (Procedural Requirements) Regulations 2002 and the Work and Families Act 2006, the Flexible Working for Working Parents Procedure permits members of staff to make one application a year and an accepted application may be considered as a permanent change to the terms and conditions of employment. However, in accordance with the University's Work - Life Balance Policy, all requests for flexible working made outside of this procedure, including requests for temporary changes, according to the individual circumstances of the case, will be considered. An initial trial period, to ensure the effectiveness and suitability of the arrangement, is recommended for all agreed flexible working arrangements.
All applications under the Flexible Working for Working Parents Procedure should be made as far as possible in advance of when the member of staff wishes the new work pattern to take effect. It is important that before making an application the member of staff gives careful consideration to:
- which working pattern shall help them best care for their child or adult;
- any financial implications it might have on them in cases where the desired working pattern shall involve a drop in salary; and
- any effects it shall have on their Department and the University, and how these might be accommodated.
A member of staff wishing to make an application under this Procedure should submit form Flex 1, to their Head of Department.
3.3 Consideration of the Application
The Head of Department is responsible for consideration and approval of requests put forward, taking advice from the Department of Human Resources as appropriate.
Where the Head of Department believes it is necessary to meet with the member of staff to discuss the request they shall arrange a meeting, to be confirmed in writing to the member of staff, on form Flex 2, within 28 days of the request being made in order to provide:
- the member of staff and the University with the opportunity to explore the desired work pattern in depth, and to discuss how best it might be accommodated;
- an opportunity to consider and discuss other alternative working patterns, should there be problems in accommodating the desired work pattern outlined in the member of staff's application.
The member of staff may be accompanied at this meeting, and any subsequent meetings convened under this procedure, by a work colleague.
If the Head of Department needs to take further action / advice or undertake further investigation before notifying the member of staff of their final decision they shall confirm this directly to the member of the staff at the meeting.
3.4 Trial Periods
Trial periods should only be used on a short term basis to assess the viability of a proposed permanent change to working arrangements and are not recommended to extend beyond 3 months. The use of trial periods must always be on the basis that all parties agree to extend the timescales, as set out in this procedure, accordingly and that this procedure is temporarily suspended for the duration of the trial period.
Where agreement is reached by all parties to undertake a trial period of the requested working arrangement the details of the trial arrangement should be recorded on form Flex 1, a copy of which should be sent to the Department of Human Resources.
Where the trial involves a temporary contractual change the Head of Department should advise the Department of Human Resources in writing, who will confirm the trial arrangement and temporary contractual change in writing to the member of staff.
Where the trial does not involve a contractual change the trial arrangement should be confirmed in writing to the member of staff by the Head of Department, copied to the Department of Human Resources.
The Head of Department is responsible for advising the Department of Human Resources of the outcome of the trial period. Once the outcome of a trial period is known the formal procedure should be resumed.
The process below shall apply and the related documentation should be submitted to the Department of Human Resources within the prescribed timescales, following the resumption of the procedure.
3.5 Consent of flexible working arrangement
Where the Head of Department is able to recommend agreement to the requested change without meeting with the member of staff they shall complete form Flex 1 (Part II) and forward the recommendation to the Department of Human Resources within 14 days of receiving the request.
When, following a meeting, set up under Section 3 (above) the Head of Department and the member of staff are able to reach agreement on a proposed change, the Head of Department shall complete form Flex 1 (Part II), recommending the change to be made, and forward it to the Department of Human Resources within 5 days of the meeting.
The Head of Department shall need to confirm at this stage that they support the request and proposed new work pattern, and that that they have considered fully the impact of the change upon the department and other staff and are satisfied that this can be accommodated.
3.6 Non-consent of flexible working arrangement
The legislation states that an application shall only be refused if one or more of the following grounds applies:
- the burden of additional costs
- detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand
- inability to re-organise work among existing staff
- inability to recruit additional staff
- detrimental impact on quality
- detrimental impact on performance
- insufficiency of work during the periods the member of staff proposes to work
- planned structural changes
- such other grounds as the Secretary of State may specify by regulations
Where the Head of Department and the member of staff are unable to reach agreement on the change requested, the Head of Department must:
- consult with the Department of Human Resources - Business Support on how to proceed;
- meet with the member of staff to discuss the matter.
The final decision should be recorded by the Head of Department on form Flex 1 and forwarded to the Department of Human Resources within 5 days of the meeting.
3.7 Formal confirmation of decision
In all cases the Department of Human Resources shall confirm in writing to the member of staff, within 7 days of receipt of form Flex 1:
- the new work pattern and a start date for this change; or
- the clear business ground(s) as to why the application cannot be accepted and the reasons why the ground(s) apply in the circumstances, as specified by the legislation*.
Members of staff may appeal against the University's decision within 14 days of being notified of the decision.
For academic staff the appeal should be directed to the Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellor and for all other staff the appeal should be directed to the Registrar and Secretary.
The appeal should be submitted on form Flex 3, and copied to the Department of Human Resources.
The Registrar and Secretary or Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellor should consider the written appeal fully, taking advice from the Department of Human Resources, and may:
- uphold the appeal directly and confirm this in writing, setting out the change agreed to within 14 days; or
- hold a meeting to hear the appeal within 14 days after the member of staff has notified the University of their intention to appeal. The decision shall then be confirmed in writing within 14 days after the date of the meeting.
3.9 Records and Notification to the Salaries and Superannuation Office
On receipt of the completed forms and following written confirmation to the member of staff the Department of Human Resources shall:
- advise the Salaries and Superannuation Office, on form Flex 4, of any adjustments required to the member of staff's salary and superannuation contributions to reflect the changes agreed.
- place a copy of the request, and all subsequent information in relation to a request, upon the member of staff's personal file.
4. Review of Procedure
This Flexible Working for Working Parents Procedure was implemented by the Department of Human Resources on 6 April 2003 and revised on 6 April 2009 and will continue to be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure compliance with relevant legislation, including that relating to equality of opportunity.
5. Advice and Guidance
For further advice and guidance on the application of the University's Flexible Working for Working Parents Procedure please contact the Department of Human Resources.