Sign post work, life balance Flexible working describes a type of working arrangement which gives a degree of flexibility on how long, where, when and at what times employees work.

The College is committed to providing a supportive environment and flexible working can be of benefit to both employees and the College.  Flexible working can help staff to feel more emotionally engaged, and more satisfied with their work.  The College recognises that the ability to consider flexible working options can also be attractive when recruiting new staff to ensure the College is able to recruit the best and diverse workforce.

The College treats equality of opportunity seriously and has an equality framework to ensure equality of opportunity.  Implementation of the Flexible Working policy must be clear and transparent and not subject to any unfair discriminatory practices by line managers.

This guidance has been designed to act as a point of reference.  For further details please refer to the full policy which can be downloaded from this page's sidebar.

Examples of flexible working

Flexible working typically includes regular home-working, job-sharing, staggered hours, reducing hours or shift working.  Changes are usually permanent, but temporary changes may be agreed.

What isn’t flexible working?

  • Requests that are covered by the Special Leave Policy e.g. time off for medical appointments.
  • Working from home in order to care for a child/dependent.  See Special Leave policy for further information about leave for family emergencies and parental leave.
  • ‘One-off’ requests e.g. a request to work from home for just one day, or to adjust working hours for one day.  Ad hoc requests should be discussed on a case-by-case basis with your line manager.

This guidance is to assist staff and managers when considering a flexible working request

Staff guidance

What are my optionsWhat are my options?

Flexible working can be requested informally or formally.  An informal arrangement may be agreed between you and your line manager following an informal meeting or discussion.  Agreement on the flexible working arrangement may be reached without following the formal procedure.  A formal request will follow a set procedure in line with employment legislation and may result in a formal change to your contract.

Before submitting your request, it’s important to consider the impact a change in your working arrangement will have on you personally including your pay and pension.  In addition, you will need to consider how to minimise the impact your request might have on your role and those you work with.

Informal requestInformal Request

Step 1: Arrange to meet and discuss your request with your line manager.  Be prepared to explain your proposed work pattern, why you are requesting it and be able to explain how you think it will fit in with the Department/Division’s needs.

Step 2: Your manager should consider your informal request and the impact it might have on service provision, members of the team, how reasonable it is and any special circumstances there may be e.g. if the request is a reasonable adjustment for a disability in relation to the Equality Act 2010.

Step 3: Depending on your discussions, your line manager may seek advice from HR.  If your request is successful, your line manager may need to inform HR so that the appropriate changes can be made or they may confirm the change in an email to you.  If your informal request is not successful, your manager should explain why.  You cannot appeal a decision following an informal process, but you can submit a formal request if you have 26 weeks' continuous service at the date of your application. 

Formal requestFormal Request

You must have 26 weeks' continuous employment at the date of your application.

Step 1 (Request): If eligible, you need to submit your formal request to your line manager in writing.  You need to outline your proposal, and when you wish it to be effective from.  You will need to explain the impact you think it will have on your Department and colleagues and how you think this can be managed.  You must also say whether a previous formal application has been made and when. You must sign and date the request.

Step 2 (Acknowledgement): Your manager will acknowledge your request in writing and should arrange to meet with you within ten working days of your request.  If there is any information missing from your application, they may ask you for this.

Step 3 (Formal meeting): This is the opportunity for you and your manager to discuss the request and discuss how it might work.  Alternatives to your suggestion may be discussed and you should be prepared to be flexible with your request.  As this will be a formal meeting, you will have the right to be accompanied by a colleague or Trade Union Representative if you wish.  Your manager may also request that HR be present.

Step 4 (Outcome): Your manager should provide a written outcome to you within ten working days of the meeting.  If it is successful, this will confirm the agreed work pattern and start date.  This will be sent to HR and recorded on your file.  If it is not successful, your manager will explain this to you in writing.

What might be the reasons for refusing my application?

Reasons for refusal of a formal request must be for one or more of the following reasons:

  • Burden of additional costs,
  • Inability to reorganise work amongst existing staff,
  • Inability to recruit additional staff,
  • Detrimental impact on quality,
  • Detrimental impact on performance,
  • Detrimental impact on the delivery of the service,
  • Planned structural changes
  • Insufficient work during the periods the member of staff proposes to work.

Step 5 (Right to Appeal): You should set this out in writing within ten days of being notified of the original decision.

Step 6 (Appeal Hearing): An appeal hearing should take place within ten working days of you submitting your appeal and will usually be heard by a Senior Line Manager with an HR Representative present.  You will be given the outcome ten working days after the appeal meeting.

 

If my appeal is not successfulIf my appeal is not successful, when can I submit another request?

You can make one formal application per year.  Each year runs from the date when the last application was made.

Can I withdraw an application?Can I withdraw an application?

Yes, you should notify your line manager as soon as possible.  You will not be eligible to make another formal application for 12 months following the date your application was made.  In addition, if you fail to attend two meetings or if you unreasonably refuse to provide your line manager with required information, your application may be treated as withdrawn.

What support is available to me?What support is available to me?

You can talk to your HR representative if you are considering a request for flexible working.  You can also talk in confidence to CIC, staff supporters or your Trades Union representative, if you are a member of a Trade Union.  

Support for staff with disabilitiesSupport for staff with disabilities

Imperial College is committed to providing equality of opportunity to all staff.  Individuals may wish to speak to the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Centre if a flexible working request relates to work place adjustments.  In addition, a wellness recovery and action plan (WRAP) may be a useful template for individuals and their manager to discuss their needs and adjustments.

 

Managers' guidance

What are the options?What are the options?

Flexible working can be requested informally or formally.  An informal arrangement may be agreed between you and your member of staff following an informal meeting or discussion.  Agreement on the flexible working arrangement may be reached without following the formal procedure.  A formal request will follow a set procedure in line with employment legislation and may result in a formal contractual change.

Informal requestInformal Request 

Step 1: You will need to meet with your member of staff and discuss their request.  Staff wanting to discuss an informal request will need to be prepared to explain thier proposed work pattern, why they are requesting it and be able to explain how they think it will fit in with the Department/Division’s needs.

Step 2: As a manager, you should consider the informal request and the impact it might have on service provision, members of the team, how reasonable it is and any special circumstances there may be e.g. if the request is a reasonable adjustment for a disability in relation to the Equality Act 2010.

Step 3: Depending on your discussions, as a line manager, you may wish to seek advice from HR.  If you are able to support your staff’s request, you will need to inform HR so that the appropriate changes can be made.  If you are unable to support the request, then you will need to meet with your staff member and explain why.   If it is an informal request, staff cannot appeal your decision, but they may decide to submit a formal request if they have 26 weeks' continuous service at the date of their application. 

Formal requestFormal Request

You can talk to your HR representative if you have received a request for flexible working and wish to discuss in more detail.  Imperial College is committed to providing equality of opportunity to all staff.  Individuals and managers may wish to speak to the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Centre if a flexible working request relates to work place adjustments.  In addition, a wellness recovery and action plan (WRAP) may be a useful template for individuals and their manager to discuss their needs and adjustments.

Individuals must have 26 weeks' continuous employment at the date of their application.

Step 1 (Request): If eligible, your staff member will need to submit their formal request to you in writing.  They will need to outline their proposal, and when they wish it to be effective from.  They will need to explain the impact they think it will have on the Department and their colleagues and how they think this can be managed.  They must also say whether a previous formal application has been made and when. They must sign and date the request.

Step 2 (Acknowledgement): You should first discuss with HR how the flexible working procedure should work/be implemented.  As a manager, you will need to acknowledge the request in writing and should arrange to meet with your member of staff within ten working days of their request.  If there is any information missing from their application, you may ask them for this.

Step 3 (Formal meeting): This is the opportunity for you to meet with your member of staff to discuss the request and discuss how it might work.  You may wish to discuss alternatives to their suggestion and staff are expected to be prepared to be flexible with their request.  As this will be a formal meeting, your member of staff will have the right to be accompanied by a colleague or Trade Union representative if they wish.  As a manager, you may request HR to be present.  

Step 4 (Outcome): You will need to provide a written outcome to your member of staff within ten working days of the meeting.  If it is successful, this will confirm the agreed work pattern and start date.  You will need to send a copy to HR so that it is recorded on their file.  If it is not successful, you will also need to explain this to your member of staff in writing.

What might be the reasons for refusing an application?

Reasons for refusal of a formal request must be for one or more of the following reasons:

  • Burden of additional costs,
  • Inability to reorganise work amongst existing staff,
  • Inability to recruit additional staff,
  • Detrimental impact on quality,
  • Detrimental impact on performance,
  • Detrimental impact on the delivery of the service,
  • Planned structural changes
  • Insufficient work during the periods the member of staff proposes to work.

Step 5 (Right to Appeal): A member of staff has the right to appeal the decision and they should set this out in writing within ten days of being notified of the original decision.

Step 6 (Appeal Hearing): An appeal hearing should take place within ten working days of the individual submitting their appeal and will usually be heard by a Senior Line Manager with an HR representative.  The individual will be given the outcome ten working days after the appeal meeting.

If the appeal is not successful, when can staff submit another request?If appeal unsuccessful, when can another application be made?

Individuals can only submit one formal application per year.  Each year runs from the date when the last application was made. 

Can staff withdraw an application?Can staff withdraw an application?

Yes, if your staff member wishes to withdraw their application they should notify you as soon as possible.  They will not be eligible to make another formal application for 12 months following the date their application was made.  In addition, if they fail to attend two meetings or if they unreasonably refuse to provide you with required information, their application may be treated as withdrawn.