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Flexible working

Under the Children and Families Act 2014, all employees have a statutory right to request a change to their contractual terms and conditions of employment to work flexibly subject to the eligibility conditions set out below.

Requests for flexible working may be for any reason and are not restricted to employees with family care commitments.

The term ‘flexible working’ describes any working arrangement where the number of hours or the time that work is undertaken vary from standard practice.

Flexible working can have benefits for both you and us by:

  • Helping someone achieve a better balance between home and work responsibilities.
  • Helping someone to stay at work when circumstances might have prevented them doing so.
  • Structuring working patterns and staffing levels around peak and troughs of demand.

Your rights

  • To request a variation to your hours of work, days of work or place of work.
  • Where a request is refused, to have an explanation for the grounds of refusal.

Your responsibilities

  • To ensure the request is made well in advance of when you want it to take effect as outlined in the policy.
  • To provide enough information to enable your Line Manager to give your request proper consideration.
  • To be prepared to discuss your request in an open and constructive manner.
  • If necessary, be prepared to be flexible yourself in order to reach an agreement with your Line Manager.

Employers’ rights

  • To reject a request where there is a recognised business ground for doing so.

Employers’ responsibilities

  • To consider requests properly in accordance with the set process, this includes answering your requests in writing.
  • To adhere to the time limits contained within the process.
  • To provide you with appropriate support and information during the course of the request.
  • To refuse a request only where there is a Recognised Business Ground and to explain to you in writing why it applies.
  • To ensure that any variation of the process is agreed in advance with you and recorded.

You do not have the right to work flexibly but you have a right to request to do so. In order to make a request you must:

  • Be an employee
  • Have at least 26 weeks’ continuous employment
  • Not be an agency worker
  • Have not made another application during the previous 12 months

Ensuring Equality of Treatment

You will be considered for flexible working regardless of race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origins (including citizenship), language, disability, religion, belief or non belief, age, sex, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, parental,  marital or civil partnership status (including same sex couples).

Job Sharing

This is an arrangement whereby two part-time employees share the responsibility of one position.

Part-Time Working

Working less than full-time hours.

Annualised Hours

Your contractual working hours are expressed as the total number of hours to be worked over the year, allowing flexible working patterns to be worked throughout this period. Payment is made in 12 equal instalments.

Compressed Hours

You are permitted to work your total number of contractual hours over fewer working days, e.g. a five-day week is compressed into four days.

Term Time Working

You work under a permanent contract, but can take paid annual leave and unpaid leave of absence during the school holidays. Salary is usually paid in 12 equal monthly instalments.

Flexi Time

This allows you the flexibility of working hours at the beginning and end of a day. You must complete an agreed number of hours over an agreed 8 week period. There are parts of the Authority where flexi time cannot be accommodated due to the nature and needs of the service.

Shift Working

Shift-working arrangements involve various start and finish times and shift rotation, giving scope to provide a service. You may have either set or different hours of work per week.

Home Working

It may be possible to do some work from home or anywhere else other than the normal place of work. A risk assessment of the activities undertaken will be required in advance of this pattern of work being undertaken. For further information please read the Agile Working policy and Procedure.

Staggered Hours

You have different start, finish and break times from other workers.

Unless specified that the request for a new working arrangement will be for a set period of time, the request will be a permanent change to the terms and conditions of employment.

Neither you nor your Line Manager have a right to revert back to the previous working arrangement unless otherwise agreed. So, for example if the new flexible working arrangement involves working reduced hours you have no right to revert to working the hours you previously worked.

Making a permanent change to an employment agreement is a big step and should not be entered into lightly.

Trial periods can help both you and your line manager test a particular working pattern to see if it works out to the satisfaction of both.

In some circumstances, especially when caring for an adult, a permanent change may not be the best solution, e.g. you suddenly become the carer of an adult with a terminal illness, your line manager may consider a temporary flexible working arrangement, agreed informally outside the formal procedure or agree to a time limited change after which you can revert back to your original pattern.

Trial periods can potentially happen at two stages before a formal agreement is reached:

  • Your line manager could give informal agreement to a trial before a formal flexible working request has been made; if this happens, the formal procedure is still available to you at some stage in the future; or
  • If a formal application is made, an extension of the time, for your Line Manager to make a decision could be agreed and a trial period could happen before a final agreement takes place; in this case the rest of the formal procedure would still be available to you.

The basic steps are:

  • You complete a flexible working application.
  • Your line manager will consider the request and make a decision within 3 months, or longer if you both agree to this.
  • If your line manager agrees to the request, they must change the terms and conditions of your contract.
  • If your line manager disagrees, they must write to you giving the business reasons for the refusal.
  • You have the right to appeal.  

All requests for flexible working should be made in writing by completing the application form FW (A).

The completed formal application must be submitted to your line manager.

The application must include:

  • date of the application
  • the changes that you are seeking to your terms and conditions
  • the date on which you would like the terms and conditions to come into effect
  • what effect you think the requested change would have on your team and work colleagues
  • how, in your opinion, any such change might be dealt with
  • whether or not you have made a previous request for flexible working and if so when you made the application

You need to build a case that both meet your needs and those of your team/department. The following guide – ‘How to help the Authority Consider your Application’ may assist you to complete this part of your request.

Things you need to consider:

  • A new working arrangement will normally be a permanent change unless otherwise requested and agreed.
  • If your request is approved, you can’t simply revert back to your former hours of work if and when you want.
  • You should be aware that your salary and annual leave will be pro rata if we agree to you working fewer hours.
  • Consider how your colleagues will manage if you change your working arrangement.
  • Think carefully about what effect changing your working arrangement will have on your job.
  • You may be able to agree to a trial period before finalising a permanent change.

We have a statutory duty to carefully consider an application for flexible working and examine if and how the desired working pattern can be accommodated within a particular service area or function.

All requests should be acknowledged.  An acknowledgement slip is included on the bottom of Form FW (A): Flexible Working Application.

You should note that it can take up to 3 months, to complete the process from submission of the application to final implementation. It may be necessary in some circumstances to agree to extend this time period.

An application will be considered to have been made on the day it was received by us. For applications sent by email or fax this day is taken to be the day of transmission. For applications sent by post this is the day the application is received.

Your line manager should consider the request carefully, looking at the benefits of the requested changes in working conditions for you and your team/department and weighing these against any adverse impact on your team/department of implementing the changes.

It is possible for your line manager to agree to a request to work flexibly simply on the basis of the application itself and if so they should write to you within 28 days, specifying agreement and the start date.

If you fail to provide all the information required, your line manager should let you know what you have omitted and ask you to re-submit the request within 7 calendar days. You should also be informed that we are not obliged to consider the request until it is complete and re-submitted.

If you do not provide your line manager with the information needed to assess whether the change can be agreed, e.g. you have not described the desired working pattern, we will be entitled to treat the application as withdrawn. You will not be able to make another application under the Flexible Working Policy for a further 12 months. It is therefore important for you to provide the information requested.

Within 28 calendar days of receiving a formal application under the Flexible Working Policy, your line manager will arrange to meet with you.

The purpose of the meeting is to allow both parties an opportunity to explore the desired work pattern in depth and to discuss how best it might be accommodated. It will also provide an opportunity to explore other alternative working patterns should there be problems with the proposal you have put forward. The meeting can be adjourned to allow you and/or your line manager time to consider alternative solutions or working patterns and agreement can be reached on the next meeting date.

Your line manager is responsible for taking and retaining notes of all meetings held with you to discuss the flexible working application.

The right to be accompanied

You have the right to be accompanied by a trade union representative or work colleague. The person accompanying you can provide advice and address the meeting/appeal meeting, but is not allowed to answer questions on your behalf.  If you choose to be accompanied at the meeting and the companion is unable to attend, the meeting should be rearranged to take place within 7 calendar days of the original date proposed for the meeting.

Where an application is approved, your Line Manager should:

  • Within 14 calendar days of the meeting, confirm in writing their agreement with the proposed or alternative work pattern and confirm a start date.
  • Your line manager will complete Form FW (B) and send you a copy.
  • A copy should also be submitted to your HR Advisor along with a ‘Variation to Contract’ (salary amendment) form.

There will always be circumstances where, due to the needs of the service, we will be unable to accept a request.

Where an application is rejected, your line manager should:

  • Within 14 calendar days of the meeting, provide in writing the reason for refusal. In addition to providing a recognised business ground, your line manager must include an explanation as to why your application cannot be accepted and their reasons why the ground(s) apply in your circumstances.
  • Form FW(C) Flexible Working Application Rejection should be completed by your line manager and a copy sent to you.

Recognised business grounds for refusing a request

We are able to refuse a request for flexible working on one or more of the following recognised business grounds:

  • 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 (of service)
  • Detrimental impact on performance
  • Insufficiency of work during periods the employee proposes to work
  • Planned structural changes

Where an application for flexible working is turned down, you have the right to appeal against the decision. This must be done in writing, to the appropriate Director or his/her nominated representative setting out the grounds for appeal, within 14 calendar days of receipt of the written notice of the decision.

You should complete Form FW (D).

The appropriate Director or his/her nominated representative will hear the appeal with advice from the Assistant Chief Executive (People Management and Performance) or nominated representative.

The Appeal Meeting

An appeal meeting will be convened within 14 calendar days of receipt of the letter of appeal - Form FW (D).

Where new information is presented to the appeal, which supports the ground(s) for the appeal, this will be taken into account, e.g. where the original application has been refused due to the inability to reorganise work among existing staff or was due to the inability to recruit additional staff; and another employee has since elected to return to work following maternity leave on a part time basis and is prepared to cover the hours.

In circumstances where you do not attend an appeal meeting without notification and do not provide a reasonable explanation within 7 calendar days the Director or nominated representative should write to you confirming that the appeal is treated as withdrawn.

Informing you of the outcome

The decision of the appeal meeting will be notified to you within 14 calendar days of it being held. The appropriate Director or his/her nominated representative will communicate this in writing by completing Form FW (E).

The decision at appeal will be final and exhausts the internal procedure.

If the appeal is upheld the written decision must:

  • Include a description of the new working pattern
  • State the date from which the new working pattern is to take effect; and
  • Be dated

If the appeal is dismissed the written decision must:

  • State the ground for the decision appropriate to the employee’s own grounds for making the appeal
  • Provide an explanation as to why the grounds for refusal apply in the circumstances; and
  • Be dated

There will be exceptional occasions when it is not possible to complete a particular part of the procedure within the specified time limit. Such extensions of time limits can only take place if both your line manager and you agree to them. Your line manager must make a written record of this agreement and send you a copy. Form FW (F) should be completed.

Where you or your line manager responsible for dealing with the application are away from work due to leave or illness, an automatic extension of the time limit will apply.  The period your line manager has to arrange the meeting will commence either on the day of you or your line manager’s return or 28 calendar days after the application is made. On your line manager’s return to work, the application should be acknowledged so that you are aware that the extension has applied and the period in which you can expect to meet with your Line Manager.

 

There will be occasions when an application is treated as withdrawn.  In all circumstances a written record must be made.

Under the legislation, should you withdraw an application following its submission to your line manager, you will not be able to make another application until 12 months from the date of the original application. You should complete and submit Form FW (G) to your line manager.

There are three reasons why an application may be treated as withdrawn:

  • You decide to withdraw your application
  • You fail to attend two meetings to discuss your request
  • You unreasonably refuse to provide your line manager with the required information

The appropriate Line Manager, Head of Service, Director, Chief Executive or their nominated representative will write to you to confirm this.

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Page updated: 30/03/2020 17:08:45