Flexible Working - The Right to Request

12 Jun 2014 Alex Hastings    Last updated: 2 Aug 2017

This article outlines NICVA’s policy with regards to flexible working for staff.

Flexible working legislation enables workers who meet certain eligibility criteria to apply to work flexibly. It does not provide an automatic right to work flexibly as there may be circumstances when NICVA is unable to accommodate the employee’s desired work pattern. However NICVA will discuss and consider all applications seriously and endeavour to find a solution that suits both parties.

Eligibility

To apply for flexible working, the following criteria must be met. You must, on the date of the application being made:

  • be an employee of NICVA or an employed agency worker who has returned to work from a period of parental leave
  • have worked for the employer continuously for at least 26 weeks on the date of the application
  • not have made a flexible working application in the past 12 months (the 12 month starts on the date the application is made)

Frequency of application

Not more than one application can be made within a 12 month period. Each year runs from the date when the application was made.

Application

It is the responsibility of employees to think carefully about their desired working pattern when making an application. Accepted applications will mean a permanent change to the employee’s own terms and conditions of employment unless otherwise agreed. NICVA will adhere to the following procedure to ensure requests are considered seriously.

Stage 1

Applications must be made in writing to the employee’s line manager stating in writing that the application is being made under the statutory right to request flexible working and confirming their eligibility to make the request. The employee must also specify the flexible working pattern applied for and state in writing what effect, if any, the proposed change would have on the function of their role, the impact on their colleagues and NICVA members and in their opinion how any such effect might be dealt with. The employee should also state the date on which the proposed change should take effect and the dates of any previous applications.

Stage 2

Within 28 days of receiving the request, the Human Resources Officer and the line manager will arrange to meet with the employee to explore the proposed work pattern in depth and to discuss how best it might be accommodated.

Should there be problems in accommodating the work pattern outlined in the employee’s application, the possibility of alternative working patterns will also be discussed.

The employee may be accompanied by a colleague/Union representative at any meeting called to discuss the application.

Stage 3

Within 14 days of the meeting the Human Resources Officer will communicate the response to the employee in writing stating the new work pattern and a start date or providing clear business grounds as to why the application cannot be accepted and the circumstances. Any offers of alternative working patterns will be put forward.

Examples of Grounds for Refusal

  • Burden of additional costs.
  • Detrimental effect on ability to meet member’s needs.
  • Inability to re-organise work amongst existing staff.
  • Inability to recruit additional staff.
  • Detrimental impact on quality.
  • Detrimental impact on performance/performance of others.
  • Insufficient work during periods employee proposes to work.
  • Planned structural change.

Stage 4

Appeal

If the employee believes that their request has not been properly considered they may raise the matter in writing with the Chief Executive (the Resources Committee where the Chief Executive is the line manager) setting out the grounds for making the appeal, within 14 working days of receipt of the response.  An appeal meeting will then be arranged to take place within 14 working days of receipt of the notice of the appeal. Following the meeting the Chief Executive will communicate his/her response in writing within 14 working days stating whether the appeal was upheld or dismissed, also the new work pattern and a start date, or an explanation as to why the grounds for refusal apply in the circumstances. Any alternative working patterns will also be offered.

This will constitute NICVA’s final decision and is effectively the end of the formal procedure.

Withdrawal from requests

The employee may decide to withdraw the application by written notification. An employee who withdraws their application will not be eligible to make another application for 12 months from the date their application was made.

In cases where an employee misses two meetings without notice or reasonable cause, NICVA will treat the application as withdrawn. When rearranging the meeting the employee will be warned in writing that they risk their application being treated as withdrawn if they miss another meeting.

There may be occasions where NICVA is willing to accept a request for flexible working, but requires the employee to provide them with certain information before they can do so. If an employee unreasonably refuses to provide the information, then NICVA will treat the application as withdrawn and will inform the employee in writing.

Third party conciliation / mediation

Despite the best efforts of both parties there will be cases where it may not be possible to resolve a disputed request. In such circumstances, both parties can agree to try to resolve the issue through the use of an external third party mediator or conciliator such as the Labour Relations Agency, a union representative, or another person with appropriate expertise.

We share NICVA’s policies to assist organisations in drafting their own. However, our policies are relevant to NICVA and are not samples. They should not be replicated, but may be used for reference purposes, in conjunction with other guidance available. NICVA cannot accept any claims arising from error or misinterpretation.
alex.hastings@nicva.org's picture
by Alex Hastings

Human Resources Manager

[email protected]

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