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Flexible working FAQs

Who can ask to work flexibly?

All members of staff employed by the Trust can request to work flexibly.

A staff member has verbally asked if they can work more flexibly. What will they need to do to start the application process?

All flexible working requests must be made in writing via the flexible working application form.

Can a flexible working request be declined without giving the request due consideration?

No, a request cannot be declined without looking into it. Managers must consider the request and meet with the member of staff as soon as possible but no later than 14 calendar days from receipt of the written request.

If a manager cannot agree to the request, they must ensure the staff member is informed of the decision in writing using the flexible working request refusal letter template. 

Please refer to the flexible working policy for further guidance.

What are the grounds for refusing a request?

Managers must have a reasonable and justifiable business reason for refusing a flexible working request. 

The specific grounds for refusing a request are as follows:

  • Detrimental effect on the Trust’s ability to meet patient/service demand
  • Inability to reorganise work within available staffing
  • Inability to recruit additional staff
  • Detrimental impact on quality
  • Detrimental impact on performance
  • Burden of additional cost to the Trust
  • Insufficient work during the period the member of staff proposes to work
  • Planned structural changes to the service/department

What happens once a decision is made?

Managers must write to the member of staff within 14 calendar days of the meeting to either agree the request and provide a start date or to refuse the request and give full details of the reasons why.

If further research needs to be made into whether the request can be accommodated, this time scale can be extended if both the manager and the member of staff agree.

The member of staff’s right to appeal against a decision within 14 calendar days must also be included in a refusal letter and details of whom to write to. A copy of the letter and the flexible working request form needs to be placed in the personal file and sent to the HR First Contact team for monitoring purposes.

What should happen if a staff member submits a written request to change their hours but then withdraws the request?

No action is required. However, it might be worth asking the person the reason they have withdrawn the request.

Alternatively, if the member of staff fails to attend a meeting with no warning the manager can presume they wish to withdraw their request.

What happens once a flexible working request has been granted?

Managers must ensure a HR2a/ESR2 form is completed where the agreed flexible working requests impacts on pay. 

Completion of the form will ensure the member of staff’s pay is updated on the Electronic Staff Records (ESR) system by the payroll team and they are paid correctly to avoid any overpayment.

Managers must also ensure that any agreed flexible working requests are confirmed in writing using the flexible working request approval letter template.

Do staff members have the right to appeal against a flexible working request refusal?

Yes, the member of staff has a right to appeal to the next line of management.

Details of the appeal process must be included in the flexible working outcome letter, including the name of the senior manager they can appeal to.

If the employee wishes to appeal, they have to do so in writing within 14 calendar days of the decision. 

A staff member has changed their hours, but now assumes they can change their hours back again – can this be done?

No, any changes agreed between the manager and the member of staff is subject to a review unless another agreement has been made.

If the member of staff subsequently wants to make further changes, or revert to their original terms and conditions, they need to re-apply and the manager must assess their request against current service requirements.

 A manager has internally recruited a member of staff who has a flexible working arrangement in their current department – do they have to honour this?

No. Flexible working arrangements apply to the role undertaken and not to the individual member of staff; therefore any existing arrangements do not automatically transfer over with the member of staff.

It is the member of staff’s responsibility to discuss the possibility of flexible working within their new role with their new manager and to submit a flexible working request as per the flexible working policy.

A staff member has asked about taking a career break. What will a manager need to do?

This would be handled the same way as any other flexible working request.

A career break is an unpaid period of leave and may be used for childcare, elderly care, training, study leave or work abroad.

Staff with at least 12 months continuous NHS service are eligible for a career break.

What length of time can a member of staff request a career break for?

Staff members can request a career break for a minimum of three months up to a maximum of five years.

Where a career break is less than 12 months, staff will return to the same role as far as is reasonably practicable. Where the break exceeds 12 months, staff can expect to return to a similar job where possible.

A staff member would like to request a career break and undertake paid employment elsewhere, is this possible?

No, staff should not be undertaking alternative paid employment whilst on a career break, except for work overseas or charitable work which could broaden experience. In such circumstances written approval must be obtained from the general manager or equivalent senior manager prior to the career break being approved.

A staff member has submitted a request to change their working pattern to term time. What will the manager need to do?

Managers must meet with the member of staff in accordance with the Trust’s flexible working policy and discuss the term time contract arrangements.

Prior to making any decision the manager must contact the HR First Contact team to provide a calculation of the term time arrangements (e.g. how many hours they wish to work and how this will affect their pay). The HR First Contact team will provide a contract along with an approximate amount of pay they will receive under this arrangement.

Managers must discuss the arrangement with the staff member to confirm they are happy with the pay and hours under a term time arrangement. Once agreed, managers must submit a HR2a/ ESR32 form to the payroll team along with a copy of the agreed term time calculation provided by the HR First Contact team in order for the pay to be processed accordingly. The agreement must be confirmed in writing using the career break arrangement confirmation letter template. A copy of the letter and calculation must be retained in the staff member’s personal file and a full copy of all documentation sent to the HR First Contact team for monitoring purposes.

The term time contract usually commences at the start of the leave year and should be reviewed annually. A term time contract must not be approved on a permanent basis.

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