Flexible Working

  1. INTRODUCTION / ELIGIBILITY
    The College recognises that flexible working can increase staff motivation, promote work-life balance, reduce employee stress and improve performance and productivity. Whilst the College will give serious consideration to flexible working requests, there is no automatic right for employees to have their requests granted. There may be circumstances when the College as an employer is unable to accommodate an employee’s desired work pattern on business grounds (see point 7 below). If at any stage, an employee is dissatisfied or unclear about the process, he/she should contact the HR department.
  2. SCOPE OF REQUESTS
    Employees with 26 weeks’ continuous service are able to request:
     for a change to the number of hours that the employee works
     for a change to the pattern of hours worked
     to job share or a request to perform some or all of the work from the
    employee’s home.
    Employees can only make 1 application for flexible working a year. All requests must be made in writing by filling in the requisite application form, which is available under the HR Policies and Procedures page on the intranet. The form should be submitted to the employee’s HR Business Partner, countersigned by their line manager.
    Any request made under this policy must include:
     the date of the application;
     the changes that the employee is seeking to his/her terms and conditions;
     the date on which the employee would like the revised terms and conditions to
    come into effect;
     what effect the employee thinks the requested change would have on their
    team and the College;
     how, in his/her opinion, any such effect might be dealt with;
     a statement that this is a statutory request;
     whether or not the employee has made a previous application for flexible
    working; and
     if the employee has made a previous request, when the employee made that
    application.
    Where the request is being made by an employee with a disability as part of a request for a reasonable adjustment to his/her working arrangements, the employee should state this in the written application. Changes to an employee’s terms and conditions of employment as a result of an accepted application will normally constitute a permanent change. Any subsequent requests for flexible working would require a further application under the procedure. Prior to any permanent changes taking effect, the College will agree to the employee completing a trial period in order to see if the new arrangements work in practice. Trial periods will be applicable to all employees and, should not normally exceed 12 weeks, although in some cases, may be extended once with rational business or operational justification.
  3. CONSIDERING FLEXIBLE WORKING REQUESTS
    Once the HR department receives the request, it will be dealt with as soon as
    possible, but no later than the deadline set out below. The line manager, supported
  4. by the HR Business Partner will arrange a meeting to deal with the request. Where a request can without further discussion be approved in the terms stated in the employee’s written application, a meeting will not be necessary. The employee may be accompanied by a work colleague or trade union representative at any flexible working meeting. The meeting should take place in a private meeting room so that the discussion is kept away from other employees. The aim of the meeting is to find out more about the proposed working arrangements and how they could be of benefit to both the employee and the College. Line managers who receive a request will have regard to the College’s equal opportunities policy when considering the request.
  5. OUTCOME OF FLEXIBLE WORKING REQUESTS
    After the meeting, the line manager, supported by the HR Business Partner will
    consider the proposed flexible working arrangements carefully, weighing up the
    potential benefits to the employee and to the College against any adverse impact of implementing the changes. Each request will be considered on a case-by-case
    basis: agreeing to one request will not set a precedent or create the right for another employee to be granted a similar change to his/her working pattern. The line manager, supported by the HR Business Partner will inform the employee in writing of the decision as soon as is reasonably practicable after the meeting, but no later than the deadline in appendix 1. If the request is upheld, the employee and the line manager will discuss how and when the changes will take effect. The request may be granted in full or in part: for example, the College may propose a modified version of the request, the request may be granted on a temporary basis, or the employee may be asked to try the flexible working arrangement for a trial period. The employee will be given the right to appeal the decision if the employee’s request is not upheld or is upheld in part. Any changes to terms and conditions will be put in writing and sent to the employee as an amendment to his/her contract of employment as soon as is reasonably practicable and subject to a 12 months review period.
  6. REASONS FOR TURNING DOWN FLEXIBLE WORKING REQUESTS
    The line manager will give reasons for the rejection of any request. Those reasons
    must be for one or more prescribed business reasons, which may include:
     the burden of additional costs;
     an inability to reorganise work among existing staff;
     an inability to recruit additional staff;
     a detrimental impact on quality;
     a detrimental impact on performance;
     a detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand;
     insufficient work for the periods the employee proposes to work; and
     a planned structural change to the business.
  7. TIMESCALES
    All requests will be dealt with within a period of three months from first receipt to notification of the decision on appeal. The line manager, supported by the HR Business Partner should hold the meeting within 28 days of receiving the request and notify the decision to the employee within 14 days of the meeting, so that there is enough time for any appeal to be concluded. Employees who are dissatisfied with the outcome of their request are allowed to lodge an appeal within 10 days of the notification, with the appeal to be heard within 14 days. The employee will be informed of the outcome of his/her appeal within 10 days of the appeal meeting. These time limits may be extended where both the employee and employer are in agreement. For example, the relevant manager and the employee may agree to extend the time limit to give the employee a trial period on the flexible working arrangements.
  8. APPEALS PROCESS
    The employee has the right to appeal against their manager’s decision provided they do so in writing within 10 days of being notified of it. The appeal should be sent to the Head of Human Resources and should set out the grounds for making the appeal. Human Resources will arrange an appeal meeting to take place within 14 days of receiving the employee’s notification. A manager not involved with the original decision will hear the appeal, supported by an HR representative. The employee may be represented and accompanied at the meeting by a trade union representative or a work colleague. The employee will be informed of the outcome of the appeal in writing within 14 days after the date of the appeal meeting. If the appeal is upheld the letter will include a description of the new working pattern and the date from which it is to take effect. If the appeal is dismissed the letter will state the grounds for the decision in writing (these will be appropriate to the employee’s own grounds for making the appeal), and provide an explanation as to why the grounds apply in the circumstances. The written notification of the appeal outcome constitutes the employer’s final decision and is the end of the formal procedure within the workplace.
  9. WITHDRAWALS
  10. An application for flexible working will be considered withdrawn if:
     the employee decides to withdraw the application;
     the employee fails to attend two meetings without reasonable cause;
     the employee refuses to provide the manager with the required information
    within 7 calendar days of a request.
    In such instances the employee will be sent written notification that their request
    has been withdrawn, with an explanation stating the grounds on which it has
    been withdrawn.