What is “Flexible Working”?
Flexible working is a term used to describe a wide range of work styles and employment practices. Broadly speaking, it includes a pattern of employment which differs from the traditional nine to five full-time job. Getting the work-life balance right is increasingly important for many colleagues who have personal responsibilities and interests outside of work, and many people are seeking increased flexibility over and above other work-related benefits. As a result, flexibility in the way that colleagues undertake work can have a real and positive impact on the performance of individuals and teams.
Types of Flexible Working
There are many different types of working flexibly including;
- Reducing your FTE and working less hours;
- Altering your start & finishing times;
- Taking a day off in a fortnight (a 9-day fortnight);
- Working from home on a fixed/structured basis;
- Annualised hours
Benefits to the University
There are a number of reasons why managers should be open to considering flexibility in work patterns:
- Changing workload demands across the academic year;
- the need to cover a working day that is increasingly outside the traditional nine to five in line with the demands of ‘customers’;
- the increasing need to improve efficiency and contain costs;
- the need to recruit and retain the highest quality staff by offering a flexible approach to work as a real employee benefit;
- the need to promote equality of opportunity.
Who can apply?
The University is committed to offering equality of opportunity to all employees and to increasing diversity in the workforce and will give due consideration to any reasonable request for flexibility. Managers are encouraged to be open to such suggestions, but employees must appreciate the constraints that might demand a refusal or modification of the request. Specific actions to increase diversity and to support employees at work include offering flexible working opportunities which includes job-sharing, both when recruiting to a vacant post and when considering flexible working applications from employees. These Flexible Working guidelines apply to all staff, regardless of grade, or personal circumstances, noting that colleagues with more than 26 weeks service have a formal statutory right to request flexible working.
What managers need to think about
Before agreeing to a request for flexible working, the line manager will need to give consideration to many factors including;
- How the flexibility of one colleague will impact on other members of the team. You may need to speak to colleagues. You should let the employee know you are going to discuss it with others before you do so;
- Consideration of how long the flexible working can be supported – will it be temporary or can long-term proposal be supported?
- Whether a trial period of the arrangement for a number of months might be a good idea.
- If the request is for a reduction in hours/days what will happen to the work that was done in that time? Will it need to be split between other colleagues?
- How will you measure the success of the request? How will you monitor it?
For Academic Staff
Colleagues with teaching responsibilities should note that they may require a formal flexible working agreement if they are unavailable to teach at fixed times during the teaching week / term. The Timetabling Team will check with the Head of School and/or HR colleagues whether such arrangements are in place.
Requesting a change
If the Flexible working request is approved, a Staffing Request Form should be raised on the using the 'amendment to contract' functionality. Please note that the new working pattern for the staff member will also need to be confirmed as part of the request. Once approved the change will be updated by HR Operations within Trent. Please note that changes to the total number of working hours will also change annual leave entitlement which will be reflected in Employee Self Service once HR Operations have updated Trent. Changes from full-time to part-time working will usually lead to annual leave entitlement being recalculated and being booked in hours. Please see the Flexible Working Flowchart for the stages of the process.
If the total number of working hours per week is staying the same, but the change is to the way in which the hours are worked across the week, then this should also be requested using a Flexible Working Request Form and following the Flexible Working Procedure. If the Flexible Working request is approved, then the completed form should be sent to HR@reading.ac.uk. An update to the working pattern in Trent is required. This information is used by Trent to calculate the absence information such as annual leave entitlement or the amount of sick pay received in the event of any absence. Once approved, the change will be made by HR Operations. Please see the Flexible Working Flowchart for the stages of the process.
Requests for temporary or short-term changes which do not affect overall working hours or FTE and therefore have no impact on salary or annual leave entitlement can be discussed and agreed between colleagues and line managers an informal basis and there is no requirement to complete a Flexible Working Form.
Place of Work
Under the University Smart Working framework, many colleagues have flexibility over their work location for part of the working week. A Flexible Working Request is required where colleagues are seeking fixed days working remotely or from home.
Our campuses play an important part in developing and strengthening our University community and the majority of roles will require at least a regular presence on campus, unless there are specific circumstances which must be considered, requests to work 100% remotely will not normally be agreed.
Consideration should be given to the impact on the service being provided and on other colleagues and the wider team.
Requests to work from a remote location overseas must first be considered by the Head of School/Function in conjunction with the HR Advisor/Partner. Working overseas often has significant tax and financial liabilities for both the University and for the individual. Working overseas will usually require prior UEB level approval.