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FLEXIBLE WORKING HOUR POLICY

Introduction

Flexible working hours is defined as a system of


attendance whereby individual employees select their starting and finishing
times from day to day, subject to the concurrence of the Work Unit in which
they work and to specified conditions.

In line with its commitment to valuing diversity


flexible working hours bring benefits to both employees and the
organization. This Flexible Working Hours policy provides arrangements
for a flexible system of attendance to help employees to manage their daily
hours of work to suit their individual needs and the needs of the
organization.
An effective policy will enable teams to discuss
and agree standard preferred patterns of working and to manage any changes
of routine to avoid unnecessary disruption to the effectiveness of the
organization.
This Flexible Working Hours policy is a guide for
employees and line managers. It is not a definitive set of rules and line
managers and employees may seek interpretation, advice or consultation
either from Heads of Team or from HR as guardians of the policy, where
there are exceptional or unusual circumstances.

Aims of the Flexible Working Hours policy

 Provide the best possible service to meet business objectives.


 Enable employees to utilize their full potential at work by achieving a
better relationship between their personal and professional lives.
 Provide a focus on the achievement of key activities, personal and team
objectives and targets rather than time sat at a desk.
 Maximize use of resources and match working patterns with the needs
of the organization.
 Retain employee expertise and broader cross section of potential
employees.

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The right to request flexible working - the eligibility criteria
To have the statutory right to make a flexible working request, an
employee has to meet certain criteria - although there's no reason
why you can't consider requests from employees without this right.
General eligibility requirements
To be eligible to make a statutory flexible working request, a person
must:
• be an employee - agency workers do not qualify
• have worked for you continuously for at least 26 weeks on the
date they make their request
• not have made another statutory request during the past 12
months
The employee can only make an application to care for either:
• a child under 17
• a disabled child who is under 18, and who is in receipt of
disability living allowance
• certain adults who require care
The law does not specify any particular minimum level of care.
However, you can find examples in the page in this guide on the
employee's application for a flexible working arrangement.
Under the statutory arrangements, applications cannot be made for
any other reason.
Parents who can make flexible working requests
A parent can request flexible working if they are either:
• the mother, father, adopter, guardian, special guardian, foster
parent or private foster carer of the child or a person who has
been granted a residence order in respect of a child
• married to, or the partner or civil partner of, the child's mother,
father, adopter, guardian, special guardian, foster parent or
private foster carer or person who has been granted a residence
order in respect of a child
Carers who can make flexible working requests
A carer can request flexible working if they care, or expect to be
caring, for either:
• a spouse, partner, civil partner or relative
• someone who lives at the carer's address
A relative is a mother, father, adopter, adoptee, guardian, special
guardian, parent-in-law, son, son-in-law, daughter, daughter-in-law,
brother, brother-in-law, sister, sister-in-law, uncle, aunt or
grandparent. Step-relatives, adoptive relationships and half-blood
relatives are also included.

The frequency of flexible working requests

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Employees can make one application every 12 months - even if the
second request in this period was for a different caring responsibility.
For example, an employee wishing to make a request to care for an
adult would still have to wait a year even if their previous request
had been to enable them to care for a child.
Each year runs from the date the first application was made.
Before making a subsequent request, the employee must - at the
date of application - still meet the eligibility criteria.

Types of flexible working


The term flexible working covers flexibility in terms of time(eg part-
time work, shift work) and location (eg homeworking) and includes
the following:
Part-time working Workers are contracted to work less than
standard, basic, full-time hours.
Flexi-time Workers have the freedom to work in any way
they choose outside a set core of hours
determined by the employer.
Staggered hours Workers have different start, finish and break
times, allowing a business to open longer
hours.
Compressed Workers can cover their standard working
working hours hours in fewer working days.
Job sharing One full-time job is split between two workers
who agree the hours between them.
Shift swapping Workers arrange shifts among themselves,
provided all required shifts are covered.
Self rostering Workers nominate the shifts they'd prefer,
leaving you to compile shift patterns matching
their individual preferences while covering all
required shifts.
Time off in lieu Workers take time off to compensate for extra
hours worked.
Term-time working A worker remains on a permanent contract
but can take paid/unpaid leave during school
holidays.
Annual hours Workers' contracted hours are calculated over
a year. While the majority of shifts are
allocated, the remaining hours are kept in
reserve so that workers can be called in at
short notice as required.
V-time working Workers agree to reduce their hours for a

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fixed period with a guarantee of full-time work
when this period ends.
Zero-hours Workers work only the hours they are needed.
contracts
Home Workers spend all or part of their week
working/teleworkin working from home or somewhere else away
g from the employer's premises.
Sabbatical/career Workers are allowed to take an extended
break period of time off, either paid or unpaid.
Flexible arrangements should comply with the law on working time.
See our guide on hours, rest breaks and the working week.

The employee's application for a flexible


working arrangement
An employee's application should set out their desired working pattern and how they think you can
accommodate it. You should accept the information they give as true unless you have good reason
to doubt it.

What information an employee must include in their flexible working application


In order for a flexible working application to be valid, it must contain certain information.
Employees can make an application using form FW(A).

Download form FW(A) from the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS)
website (DOC, 152K)- Opens in a new window.

However, you can accept an email or letter, or provide employees with your own application form.

If the employee doesn't use form FW(A), to be valid their application must:

• be dated and in writing - whether on paper, email or fax


• state that it is being made under the statutory right to make a flexible working request
• confirm that they have, or expect to have, caring responsibility for a child or adult in need
or care
• confirm their relationship with the child or adult in question - see the page in this guide
on the right to request flexible working - the eligibility criteria
• specify the flexible working pattern applied for
• explain what effect, if any, they think the proposed change may have on your business and
how you can deal with any such effect
• state the date on which they want the change to start
• state whether they have made any applications to you before and, if so, when

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The employee should allow plenty of time between the date of the application and the date they
expect the flexible working arrangement to start. This is to allow you time to look at their
application and assess whether or not you can accommodate it.

Proof of parental/caring responsibilities


Employees do not have to give you proof of their caring relationship. Therefore you should accept
applications in good faith and make the decision on whether or not to grant a request solely on
business grounds.

In addition, an employee does not have to show:

• That the child or adult in question requires any particular level of care. For example, an
employee wanting to work flexibly to look after their mother does not have to show that the
mother is unable to cope on her own or that she is disabled and qualifies for disability living
allowance.
• Why they themselves must provide that care. For example, a father asking for reduced
hours in order to care for his child does not have to show why the care cannot be provided by
the mother or by somebody else.

If you think that an employee is abusing the right to request, eg they don't have a qualifying
relationship with the child or adult in question, you can ask for evidence.

However, under the legislation the employee does not have to provide proof of their relationship or
the level of care required. You should make the decision on whether or not you can grant a request
based on business grounds rather than the employee's personal circumstances. If you still suspect
that the employee is abusing the right, you should use your disciplinary procedures.

What types of adult care are relevant?


Carers' patterns of care-giving vary widely from individual to individual - both in the nature and the
extent of the care given. Examples may include:

• emotional support
• giving/supervising medicines
• escorting to doctors' appointments
• keeping the care recipient company
• help with financial matters or paperwork
• supervision of the person being looked after
• help with personal care, eg dressing, bathing, toileting
• help with mobility, eg walking, getting in and out of bed
• housekeeping, eg preparing meals, shopping, cleaning
• nursing tasks, eg daily blood checking, changing dressings

This list is not exhaustive.

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Flexible working requests and the contract of employment
If you accept an employee's flexible working request, this may lead to a permanent change to their
contractual terms and conditions.

If this is the case, then the employee may not revert back to the previous working pattern unless
you agree otherwise.

If an employee is concerned about this, you could either suggest that they work flexibly
over a trial period or agree that the arrangement will be temporary - see the page
in this guide on considering an employee's flexible working request.

Business impact of flexible working


Introducing a flexible working policy can benefit you as well as your employees.

How flexible working can benefit you and your business


Many employers believe that promoting flexible working makes good business sense and brings the
following improvements:

• Greater cost-effectiveness and efficiency, such as savings on overheads when


employees work from home or less downtime for machinery when 24-hour shifts are worked.
• The chance to have extended operating hours, eg later closing times for retailers.
• Ability to attract a higher level of skills because the business is able to attract and retain
a skilled and more diverse workforce. Also, recruitment costs are reduced.
• More job satisfaction and better staff morale.
• Reduced levels of sickness absence.
• Greater continuity as staff, who might otherwise have left, are offered hours they can
manage. Many employers find that a better work-life balance has a positive impact on staff
retention, and on employee relations, motivation and commitment. High rates of retention
means that you keep experienced staff who can often offer a better overall service.
• Increased customer satisfaction and loyalty as a result of the above.
• Improved competitiveness, such as being able to react to changing market conditions
more effectively.

How flexible working can benefit your employees


The main benefit of working flexibly for your employees is that it gives them the chance to fit other
commitments and activities around work and make better use of their free time.

Flexible working is particularly helpful for employees who have young or disabled children or who
care for an adult.

However, while such employees have the statutory right to request flexible working, those without
the right may find flexible working helpful too. For example:

• working from home may allow them to feel more in control of their workload

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• staggered working hours may help them avoid the stress of commuting at peak times

Allowing employees to work flexibly in order to encourage a better work/life balance can lead to
improvements in health and well-being. For more information on the benefits that this can bring,
see the page on the business benefits of promoting employee health and well-being in our
guide on how to improve employee health and well-being.

PROS AND CONS OF THE POLICY

ARGUMENTS FOR:
 Flexi-time helps people to balance the demands of their work, leisure
and private commitments.
 By staggering travelling times, flexible working lowers peak-time
demand and reduces overcrowding.
 Parents of small children already enjoy the benefit of flexi-working.
Ninety per cent of those who have applied have been granted a
change in hours.
 Allowing workers to choose their hours helps them to make other
contributions to the community, such as voluntary work or serving on
local councils.

ARGUMENTS AGAINST:
 Many organizations and companies - schools, restaurants,
newsagents, transport - are tied to certain hours and demands beyond
their control.
 Workers who opt for flexible hours are always vulnerable to the
'sloping off' charge, however unfair. Allowing people to choose when
they worked would undermine trust between bosses and staff.
 In every organization some would be granted the hours they wanted,
and some would not. This might create staff jealousy and be bad for
morale.

ABUSE OF THE POLICY

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The success of the policy depends on trust and any employee found to be
deliberately abusing this trust will be dealt with dismissal and
disciplinary procedure.

FLOWCHART SHOWING FLEXIBLE WORKING


HOUR POLICY

The maximum period during which office will be open to


employees to conduct their work will be 9.00 am to 6.00 pm.
(bandwidth**).

Employees will be given a choice about the times they work


within the bandwidth subject to which they can also report by
least 1 hour prior or late as a consequence of which they
provide minimum 8 hours of service.

Time spent working outside the flexi time bandwidth must be


recorded on the flexi records as ‘additional time worked’ with
details provided in the comments field of the reasons for this
additional working time.

Between 9.00am and 9.30am and 5.30pm and 6.00pm there will
be no Reception coverage.

Employees must ensure they work their contracted hours whilst


taking into account the needs of the team and to meet the needs
of the business.

Employees working in excess of 6 hours are recommended to


take a minimum of a 30 minute uninterrupted break during their
working hours. Breaks can be taken at any time during the
working day.

Cont
d.

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Cont
d.

Cont
d.

Employees should ensure they take at


Least the minimum break recommended in the interests of
health and safety.

Time taken to make coffee or tea or smoking breaks consumed


at or away from the employee’s workstation
will be in the employee’s own time.

Employees will be given a choice about the times they work


within the bandwidth subject to:

• Meeting operational and team requirements


• Meeting personal and team objectives and targets.
• Meeting contractual hours of attendance.

There will be a requirement to complete a formal recording of


hours which must be electronically “approved” via the intranet’s
flexi sheet approvals system by the employee’s line manager
and viewed by the Head of Team at the end of each four week
accounting period.

An employee whose line manager is absent for more than four


weeks must contact HR to arrange for their Head of
Team/Director/CEO (as appropriate) to temporarily
approve their flexi sheet.

Cont
d.

Cont
d.

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Line managers and Heads of Teams should encourage and
recommend that employees take appropriate breaks and should
monitor hours to ensure a sensible work-life balance is
achieved.

The Flexible Working Hours policy should be reviewed 12


monthly.

NOTE (**)

Hours of work are not confined to the bandwidth where an employee may,
for example, be travelling to a location other than their normal place of
work, in connection with their work.

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