Summary of the scheme

(i) Eligibility

Under the provisions of the Flexible Working Regulations 2014 (as set out in Section 9 of the Children and Families Act 2014), any employee with 26 weeks service has the right to ask their employer for a change to their contractual terms and conditions of employment to work flexibly.

Any eligible University employee can apply to work flexibly for any reason under the University's Flexible Working procedure. To be eligible to make a request for flexible working an individual must:

  • Be an employee i.e. not an agency worker
  • Have worked for the University continuously for 26 weeks at the date at which the application is made
  • Not have made another application to work flexibly during the previous 12 months.

Eligible employees are entitled to make an application to work flexibly and have the right to be accompanied at the meeting, at which their application is considered, by a trade union representative or by a friend or colleague from within the University.

(ii) Time limits and extensions

The Flexible Working Regulations 2014 require that the consideration process should be completed within three months of first receiving the flexible working request, including the appeal stage, unless the department and the employee have agreed to an extension.

The following time scales are suggested for each stage of the process:

Stage in process

Normal time scale

Arranging a meeting to discuss the employee's application

28 days

Notifying the employee of the department's decision regarding the application

14 days

Arranging a meeting to discuss the employee's appeal

14 days

Notifying the employee of the department's decision regarding the appeal

14 days

The department and the employee may agree to extend time scales for any part of the procedure; any such agreement should be recorded in writing by the department, be dated, specify what time scale the extension relates to, and specify the date on which the extension is to end. This record of agreement must be provided to the employee.

You should ask your employee to confirm that he or she has received notification of any extension to time scale.

(iii) Considering requests

It is important, in order that the University's procedures can be seen to be fair, that departments properly follow the procedure for dealing with an employee's request for flexible working.

It is strongly recommended that departments should start by taking a positive approach towards a request for flexible working. However, it is recognised that, due to the operational needs of the department, you may feel unable to accept a particular request. Employees are also encouraged to be flexible in their approach to requests and are asked to consider alternative working arrangements that may be appropriate if their first-choice flexibility option is not possible.

If the application for flexible working involves a reduction in hours and the employee has a certificate of sponsorship, they should seek advice from the Staff Immigration Team since a reduction in hours and salary would be reportable and there may be issues if the salary dropped below the level required by the Home Office.

(iv) Multiple requests

If a department receives more than one request for flexible working, it is not required by law to make a value judgement regarding the purpose of these requests, or to establish the most deserving case between them. Employees are not obliged to tell the department the reason for their requests.

In coming to its decision, the department should take care not to discriminate on any of the protected characteristics detailed in the Equality Act 2010. It should seek to balance the individuals’ needs with the operational needs of the department and it should establish a legitimate business reason for any refusal. This should be based on the 8 statutory business reasons for refusal, given in the University's Flexible Working procedure, and demonstrate that the refusal is proportionate in the light of this business reason.

If the department cannot decide between requests according to business reasons, some form of random selection should be used to distinguish between the requests.

(v) Right to be accompanied at the meeting and the appeal meeting

An employee will have the right to be accompanied at a meeting or an appeal meeting by a trade union representative (if a member) or by a friend or colleague from within the University. A person who accompanies an employee at a meeting or an appeal meeting concerning a request for flexible working will have the right to paid time off for this purpose.