Flexible Working and Working from Home Policy & Procedure

1.  Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to outline [Social Enterprise / Organisation] policy on flexible working arrangements and to guide and expose to a greater extent the benefits of a more agile workforce within our [Social Enterprise / Organisation] This policy sets out the guidelines to you as an employee on how to make effective use of a more flexible working environment.

It shall also provide a framework of understanding about how home working operates in [Social Enterprise / Organisation] should the need arise whereby employees are required to work from home for example during Worldwide Pandemic situation such as Covid-19.

 

It is based upon the principles outlined below, which also meet the requirements of all relevant employment legislation and support a new and modern way of working.

This policy defines what home working means for [Social Enterprise / Organisation] and what needs to be in place to ensure the well-being of employees. It is the [Social Enterprise / Organisation]’s policy to encourage open discussion with employees to ensure that questions and problems can be resolved as quickly as possible.

2.  Scope

This policy and procedure applies to all employees. In order for the policy to be effective, it is essential that employees and those involved in the management of employees are aware of the policy and procedure and adhere to it. Ultimately it is the responsibility of the [Social Enterprise / Organisation] Board and Management to ensure that this is the case.

No [Social Enterprise / Organisation] employee will be deemed as a home-based worker so there will be no change [Social Enterprise / Organisation]’s responsibilities as an employer or of employees’ responsibilities to work to required policies and processes.

3.  Policy

[Social Enterprise / Organisation] recognises the benefits of flexible working options to you as an employee, including flexible hours, working from home, part-time working and job sharing, while using a range of technologies to stay connected.

The employer has a trusting approach to flexible working, where performance, quality and a results-driven ethos remain at the forefront.

4.  Core principles

  • [Social Enterprise / Organisation] will promote best practice in the management of home working. It will regularly review its provisions to ensure that they are legally compliant and reflect best practice.
  • [Social Enterprise / Organisation] will support home working, and this will be agreed between the [Social Enterprise / Organisation] manager and the individual taking into consideration team and business needs. Individual needs for flexibility will also be considered on a case by case basis.
  • Whilst home working, employees must take responsibility for their work during [Social Enterprise / Organisation] office hours; the system is reliant on there being trust between managers and employees. This is so fundamental that any breach of trust will be treated very seriously and may be regarded as misconduct. Appropriate action may follow under the Disciplinary Policy. If misconduct is found, the agreement to work at home may be withdrawn.
  • Working at home is a benefit available to all employee and not a requirement nor an automatic right and days must be agreed in advance with the [Social Enterprise / Organisation] There will be some circumstances where working from home a viable option is not or where the operational needs necessitate a different approach. For example, a member of employee whose performance is being reviewed under the capability procedure may not be considered suitable for home working. Such circumstances are expected to be the exception not the norm.
  • In exceptional circumstances [Social Enterprise / Organisation] may request that you work from home due to bad weather, health management crisis etc. In these circumstances we would ask that all employees openly state if they have the resources, equipment and space to be able to work from home, so that alternative options can be explored if they are incapable of carrying out their duties in their home environment.

5.  Making a Request

Prior to submitting a formal request, an employee should have an informal conversation with their manager regarding possible flexible working arrangements.

In circumstances whereby [Social Enterprise / Organisation] request all employees to work from home [Social Enterprise / Organisation] management will meet with each employee individually to discuss what needs to be put in place in order for them to be able to work from home.

Every attempt will be made by the employer to accommodate each request where it is reasonably possible.

6.  Job Roles

  • [Social Enterprise / Organisation] understands that some roles lend themselves to homeworking more readily than others.
  • Under home working, roles can be undertaken from the office or home. The balance between office and home working will vary depending on the role and the person concerned, and the days which are office-based days, and which are home-based days will be agreed. Home working will normally be no more than 2 days per week to support team engagement.
  • In crisis situations the length of time working from home may be longer therefore arrangements will be put in place to support each employee to ensure they are not isolated and are given the required support that they need in order to complete their work.
  • All roles will have their principle workplace as the [Social Enterprise / Organisation]

7.   Home Working in Practice

Employees where home working is mutually agreed will be asked to meet with the [Social Enterprise / Organisation] Manager to discuss and agree the employee’s responsibilities and those of [Social Enterprise / Organisation] while working at home. This includes the areas covered below:

7.1.   Insurance cover

Employees should ensure that all [Social Enterprise / Organisation] property is used appropriately and responsibly and that all reasonable precautions are taken to prevent damage and theft. Any damage or theft of [Social Enterprise / Organisation] property must be reported to the [Social Enterprise / Organisation] manager immediately.

7.2.   Communication and contact

Communication arrangements must be robust. Employees working from home should be readily contactable, normally by email and by telephone, during normal working hours. Home workers must let their line manager or employees know in advance (where appropriate) of any times they will be out, seeking permission where appropriate.

7.3.   Information security

All employees working from home must ensure that they adhere to [Social Enterprise / Organisation]’s policies, procedures and guidance in relation to Information Security, Data Protection and Freedom of Information.

7.4.   Health and Safety

The work that employees will be carrying out at home is paper-based or computer-based work and in general such work is not high risk. Nevertheless, [Social Enterprise / Organisation] has responsibilities under health and safety legislation when employees are working from home, including the requirement to undertake appropriate risk assessment.

Employee will be provided with equipment which is appropriate for their job roles and in line with any reasonable adjustments that an individual has.

Any other equipment requested outside of the normal equipment provision will need to be considered once a clear business reason has been made by the individual

7.5.   Additional household expenses

[Social Enterprise / Organisation] will not pay any additional household costs as home working arrangements are deemed a mutual benefit.

8.  Attendance and Availability for Work

  • Employee must be available and able to work on their contracted days whether they are in the office or working from home, unless absence is for an authorised form of leave or sickness. Any variation to this arrangement can only be made by prior agreement with the [Social Enterprise / Organisation]
  • Employees should remember that the needs of [Social Enterprise / Organisation] clients and [Social Enterprise / Organisation] will always take priority. This will mean that employees are expected to be available to come into the office on a working from home day should a need arise. This may include situations when they are unable to connect to the business systems, or if they are asked to do so by their manager e.g. in the event of sickness of a employee, inadequate cover, emergency or service need.
  • Managers will be aware of the personal circumstances of their employees and should try to balance individual needs when calling an employee in on working from home days.
  • Where an employee is being asked to attend the office at short notice, managers should endeavour to make the call at a time that enables the employee to arrive at their normal starting time. Where this is not possible the employee’s travelling time will be considered as part of their working day
  • Employees should log in regularly to clearly indicate their availability status throughout their working day. This entails ensuring that outlook calendars are kept open, accessible to employees and are up to date.
  • As a rule, employees are expected to work in the same way, whether they are in the office or working from home. For example, if they would usually be available to answer the telephone, respond to emails etc. during the hours the service operates they will be expected to do this when working from home, unless a change is agreed with the [Social Enterprise / Organisation] Whether or not the [Social Enterprise / Organisation] manager agrees to a change, will depend upon the circumstances of the request and its impact on the team and service delivery.
  • In the case of a systems failure, employees should contact their manager, who will need to establish the extent of the system failure, the impact on the service and decide on the appropriate course of action. In some cases, this will involve seeking advice from the Board of Management.

9.   Patterns of Work

  • Working from home does not mean that employees are able to choose when and where they work. The days that employees work in the office or work from home will be organised, planned and agreed in advance with their line manager. This will not be in a public place e.g. library or internet café.
  • The needs of the service will always take priority, however a collaborative approach between management and employee is more likely to achieve a mutually beneficial arrangement.
  • Ultimately the manager will have the responsibility for ensuring that service needs take priority; that employee are treated fairly and are trusted to take responsibility for themselves and their work when working from home.
  • Managers will, in consultation with their employee, decide a pattern that best meets the needs of the service.
  • Employees must understand that these patterns are subject to change; there is no entitlement to work from home on specific days of the week. Consequently, employees must be ready to alter their working pattern if required and should be wary of making any commitments on homeworking days as these may need to change.
  • Working from home is not a substitute for caring for dependents’ long term. Employees are expected to have made alternative arrangements for the care of their dependents during their working day if they wish to apply for homeworking on a long-term basis.

10.  Absences

10.1.  Sickness

As when due in the office where an employee is unable to attend for work due to sickness, they must on the first day of absence, contact their manager at the earliest opportunity.

10.2.  Working from home when sick

  • As a guide working from home is not to be used as a substitute for a working in the office day, when an employee feels “under the weather” i.e. they feel unable to make the journey into the office but feel able to continue their normal work from home. Last minute changes could impact on other team members and are therefore difficult to accommodate.
  • It is however recognised that there may be times or circumstances where such requests may be agreed by exception such as in situations where the employee does not feel sick but has been advised by a health professional to self-isolate due to contact or suspected contact with someone who has Covid-19. In their discussion the manager should consider the hours the employee expects to be able to work and their likely output before determining whether it is appropriate for the employee to work from home in this situation. It is also imperative that the employee has the necessary equipment at home to be able to do this (i.e. laptop etc.,).
  • An employee who has reported in as sick and will have it recorded as such, is not expected to work either in the office or at home. Managers should be respectful of this.

11.  Performance

Working from home relies on outcome-based management. This means that employee are managed based upon their results. To achieve this an employee is expected to deliver outcomes within their contractual hours. The arrangements for how hours are worked will be agreed in advance with line managers.

This approach will require a strong commitment by managers and employees to plan and ensure that regular 1-2-1 meetings take place and relevant targets are used to represent the outcomes required.

Working from home requires some changes in relationship between employees and their managers. As a result, there are different responsibilities for all employee. All responsibilities are set out below.

11.1. Employees will:

  1. Agree working arrangements with their manager (and in consultation with other team members where appropriate)
  2. Ensure that their manager knows when and where they are working at all times
  3. Ensure their Outlook calendar is up-to-date, and their working status is known at all times
  4. Meet agreed work objectives, deadlines and monitoring arrangements, with a focus on outcomes and achievement
  5. Take care of [Social Enterprise / Organisation] equipment such as laptops, particularly when travelling or working from home. Any loss, damage or theft must be reported to the manager and the police if appropriate.
  6. Comply with the IT security and data protection requirements
  7. Complete the Data Protection Act training module
  8. Take reasonable care of their own health and safety and follow the Display Screen Guidance and other health and safety arrangements and procedures

11.2. Managers will:

  1. Ensure that safe working practices are understood by employees and that they have the tools they need to do their jobs effectively
  2. Ensure, in consultation with other managers, that working arrangements mean we do not exceed our desk capacity on any one day.
  3. Plan which members of employee are working in and out of the office on any given day. This will necessitate thinking creatively about how home working could work for their employee.

11.3. Managers will ensure that their employees:

  • Understand that it is not compulsory to work from home, but that it is an available benefit
  • Have access to the appropriate technology to work effectively both in the office environment and from home
  • Take responsibility for creating a safe working environment when working from home.
  • Have access to appropriate support equipment to assist in the creation of a safe working environment when working from home.
  • Have SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely) objectives, priorities and targets which can be measured in line with the Performance Reviews, as well as clarity about the outcomes expected of their job role.
  • Have their individual circumstances and requirements (particularly where an employee has a disability) taken into account, including the needs of newly appointed employee, trainees and apprentices who may initially need to come into the office more often for support rather than working at home.
  • Have access to continuous performance review process which includes regular 1:1 conversation and/or supervision.
  • Ensure that information governance and health and safety requirements are adhered to at all times.

12.  Refusing Requests

While every attempt will be made to accommodate each request, where possible, the following circumstances may result in a request not being approved:

  • anticipated detrimental effect on ability to meet stakeholder demand.
  • anticipated detrimental impact on service quality.
  • inability to reorganise work among existing employees.
  • burden of additional costs exceeding maximum acceptability by the employer.
  • anticipated detrimental impact on [Social Enterprise / Organisation]
  • insufficiency of work during the periods the employee proposes to work.
  • planned operational changes that are not compatible with the requested working arrangement.
  • Employee who require specialist equipment.
  • Employee whose personal circumstances are not conducive to home working. There could be a number of reasons where working at home is not possible for a member of employee, e.g. shared flats/houses, insufficient space, someone else caring for children/relatives in the home, etc. In the short-term, they may need to attend the office more frequently than other members of employee and managers are expected to manage this in consultation with other team members.

13.  Timeline for Handling Flexible Working Requests

If you wish to avail of flexible working, you must submit a formal request to your manager at least two weeks prior to the date on which you would like the arrangement to commence. If the flexible working arrangement request is approved, [Social Enterprise / Organisation] will issue you a confirmation document as soon as possible, but not less than four weeks before the commencement date of the flexible working arrangement.

14.  Review of Policy

[Social Enterprise / Organisation] reserves the right to amend or revise this policy at any stage. Any such amendments will be communicated to all employees.

15.  References

Available upon request

 

If you would like a Word Version of this Policy & Procedure please email maighread@maighreadkelly.com

Maighréad Kelly is a management consultant and offers a range of supports to employers in the area of HR and Operations.  For more information on the services that Maighréad provides go to www.maighreadkelly.com or check out her experience on https://www.linkedin.com/in/maighreadkelly/