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Flexible Working

Changes in work patterns and culture mean that full-time, week long, year round employment is not necessarily the only or best type of employment for both employee and employer.   By acknowledging a range of flexible working practices, the University of Dundee hopes to consider different ways of working which may be mutually beneficial.

The benefits of flexible working include retention of valued staff, potential for matching working hours to periods of greatest need, potential for staffing over a wide range of hours, more satisfied less stressed staff and the ability to fit working hours with individual commitments.   Flexible working is not intended to increase the temporary or part-time nature of the job to the detriment of either staff or the University.   Flexible workers are as valuable to an organisation as those with traditional working arrangements and their performance should be measured and assessed in the same way.

A range of flexible working practices and a variety of flexible working arrangements exist within the University. The right to apply for flexible working is provided for by the Children’s and Families Act 2014.

The types of flexible working detailed below are given as examples of flexible working that could be negotiated by individuals within Disciplines/Schools/Directorates if mutually beneficial.

Flexible Working Hours

Flexible working hours allow employees to choose, within set limits, the times they start and finish work.  This practice already exists within the University as an informal arrangement.

Within the University there exist both staff who work a specified number of hours per week and those who work the time that is reasonably required to fulfil the duties of the post.   For the former type of job, the Department should define the required start and finish times of the job if there is any variation to the standard hours (8.45 to 17.00) stated on the contract.  

Flexible working hours would allow Departments to agree with individuals different acceptable start and finish times when they expect the employee to be at their post.   This could apply to both full and part-time staff.  

Any employee can make a formal request for flexible working provided they have been employed for at least 26 weeks by the application date and they have not made a similar request during the previous 12 months.  Any request that is accepted will make a permanent change to the employment contract.

If the employee wants a temporary change, this can be considered and an agreement may be reached together with any compromise if the original request cannot be accommodated.

Part Time Working

Part-time working is already widely used in the University.

This is where the employee is contracted to work a proportion of normal full-time working and is paid pro-rata and receives contractual benefits over a 52 week period.  

Job Sharing

Job sharing is a particular type of part-time working that can be found at the University This is where 2 or more individuals, with separate contracts of employment, share the responsibilities of a full-time job agreeing, with reference to the needs of the employer, how best to cover the duties involved.   A basic arrangement, e.g. of each carrying out 50% of the work may be covered by one week on, one week off;  mornings only working and afternoons only working;  alternate days, or half the week each.   The proportion of the job share may differ from 50/50.  Job sharers may need to have built in to their job time for handover and liaison.

Job sharing is a way of introducing part-time hours into jobs which have traditionally only been available on a full-time basis, particularly at senior and managerial levels.

A Job Share Register is available in Human Resources.  This Register is accessible to staff who are currently working full-time but wish to transfer to part-time work should such become available through requests for job-share or reduced hours.

Semester Time Working

This is already used in the University generally based on University semesters, not school terms but it could be used for either. The work may be full or part-time and salaries may be paid pro-rata during the whole year or the period between semesters may be treated as unpaid leave.

Voluntary Reduced Working Time

Income is traded for time off. Employees negotiate to reduce their full-time working hours by an agreed percentage for a specified period with the possibility then of either returning to full-time work or extending the reduced work time arrangement. The time off may be taken in a variety of ways, e.g. reducing the working day or week or by taking a block of time off in the year.

Annual Hours

This is an arrangement in which employees contract for a total number of working hours over a 12 month period. When those hours are actually worked will be negotiated according to the demands over a time period which may be as little as a month or as much as a year. Peaks and troughs in work can be met by adjusting hours worked to meet demand. This enables employers to match staffing more closely to their needs. Salary may be calculated on regular time periods, so providing a steady income regardless of the number of hours worked in the pay period.

Remote Working / Home Working / Flexi-Place / Tele-Working

Home working, remote working, flexi-place or tele working are all arrangements which create flexibility in a work place rather than work time.  

The nature of the post may allow an employee to work at home, or to use branch or satellite offices where the use of computing and telecommunications equipment are essential.   Such arrangements may be initiated, e.g. a part of a long-term strategic plan, in recognition of the travel demands of the job or as an ad hoc arrangement to meet unexpected situations or individual circumstances.  

Successful schemes are characterised by:-

The employer would need to risk assess the proposed arrangement and be satisfied that the appropriate measures can be put in place in terms of health and safety, insurance and data security.

Career Break / Employment Break

An employment or career break is an extended period of unpaid leave from work.   The intention is that at some future date, the employee will return to work with the same employer at either the same level or the same job, retaining all or most of the service related benefits.

An Employment/Career break may be allowed for a number of purposes such as domestic or caring responsibilities; further education; to fulfil an ambition or to participate more fully in an activity or interest not related to work.                 

Generally, an Employment/Career break is not given where the employee will be similarly employed by another organisation.

The University of Dundee will consider Employment/Career breaks of up to three months although longer breaks may be considered depending on the circumstances, for example caring responsibilities.   

To be eligible to apply, an employee must have at least at least 26 weeks' continuous service with the University.  An employee can apply for a break only once every 12 months of service.  The application should be made, where possible, six months in advance.

If you are thinking of applying for an Employment/Career break it is important that you are aware that the following would apply to your conditions of employment:

If a longer Employment/Career break is agreed that extends beyond 6 months (26 weeks), the University cannot guarantee that a member of staff will be able to return to his/her former post although all effort will be made to assign them to this.

If you wish to apply for an Employment/Career break please apply using the Unpaid Career Break Form.  This is also available from your local HR Office.

Leave of Absence

Leave under this heading is generally taken by academic or academic and related staff. 

a.         Periodic leave / Sabbatical 

This may be granted to members of staff who have served not less than 3 years at the rate of one semester in respect of each period of service of 3 years, subject to a maximum of one year’s leave on any one occasion.   Full payment of salary, superannuation and national insurance is continued but the member of staff granted such leave may not undertake other paid employment except on the type normally permitted to University Academic and Academic Related staff in addition to their normal duties.   This rule may be waived by the Court when the leave is taken in a country in which the cost of living is higher than that of the United Kingdom.

b.         Special Leave with Pay

This type of leave will be granted for short periods only to enable members of staff to attend meetings of learned societies, give papers at conferences, advise other institutions and for similar purposes.   If the leave is for 1 week or less or if wholly in vacation, the member of staff may agree it informally with the Head of Department/Dean. 

 c.         Special Leave without Pay or with Partial Pay     

This is similar to Special Leave with Pay above, unless there are financialimplications for the Department or the financial arrangements for the member of staff will require approval.

If you wish to apply for Leave of Absence, please apply using the ‘Leave of Absence Application Form’ form.  This is also available from your local HR Office.

Requesting to Work Flexibly - Procedure

The flexible working application form (available from Human Resources) is intended for use when a member of staff wishes to change their working arrangements.  A formal request will result in a permanent change and the contract of employment will be amended accordingly.

Applications to work flexibly are welcome from all staffing groups, and no application will be discriminated against on the grounds of sex, marital status, disability, race, colour, nationality or ethnic origin, sexual orientation, religious belief or age.

The applicant completes Section 1 of the relevant form (link) giving details of the hours of work they would like on which days etc and an outline of the effect the change in working pattern will have on the Department.    

The completed form should then be sent to the Discipline Lead/Dean of School/Director.

The Discipline Lead/Dean of School/Director must fully consider the applicant’s request and assess the current role of the individual.   Account should be taken of the duties, responsibilities, and regular commitments which the individual has.   Consideration should be given to the flexibility of the role and the possibilities for redistribution of workload.  There is no need to meet with the member of staff if the request is to be approved although it is recommended that a meeting does take place to discuss the arrangements.

Where it is felt that the role does not lend itself to the proposals, a meeting should take place so that consideration can be given to any alternative flexible working arrangements which could be accommodated.

The completed flexible working application form should be sent to Human Resources.   If the application has resulted in a change to current contracted working hours, written confirmation of the change and its effective date should be sent to Human Resources in order that the appropriate amendments be made.

A refusal may legitimately be based on one or more of the following reasons:

The ACAS guidelines provides further information on the reasons that a refusal may be given under the current legislation.

Where an application in respect of any of the Work/Life Balance Policies is refused, the member of staff can seek the advice of Human Resources.

The formal appeal route is as detailed in the University's Grievance Procedures.

Work / Life Balance Policies

There are a range of policies designed to support staff to balance work and home life and deal with personal responsibilities, as well as some of life's major events.

Full copies of all these policies, procedures and application forms are available from Human Resources.


Updated, June 2016