Flexible Working Arrangements: Guidelines for Staff
The flexible working arrangement principles and guidelines expressed on this website have primary application to non-represented staff. Staff who are represented by a bargaining unit should see their collective bargaining agreement for information about flexible working arrangements.
Principles for Effective Workplace Flexibility
- You should make a business case for your workplace flexibility request. Clearly explain how you believe the benefits will outweigh the costs. The arrangement should support the office or department's goals, including productivity, cost effectiveness, and service to internal and external clients.
- Workplace flexibility requires a partnership between you and your manager. Flexible working arrangements are not an entitlement, so you should be patient and flexible during negotiations with your manager.
- A written proposal and agreement should be developed. (See the Request Form for a place to begin.) HRS recommends a trial period of three months to review how it is working for everyone involved. You and your supervisor should review the agreement at least annually. Good communication is essential for a successful agreement.
- Flexible working arrangements are an agreed-upon adjustment, not an entitlement, and therefore may be altered depending on a variety of factors that may change.
- Flexible working arrangements should be mutually beneficial to the staff and the University.
- A flexible working arrangement is most successful when there is effective communication, a supportive environment and a focus on business operations.
- Not all work can be accommodated through flexible working arrangements. Some types of work and certain job functions require on-site presence. This should be acknowledged in order to address morale issues for those who may be unable, due to the type or nature of their work, to participate in a flexible arrangement.
- Creative schedules and compressed work weeks and other flexible working arrangements do not necessarily alter the total number of work hours for an employee.
- Staff members who participate in flexible working arrangements must meet the operational goals and requirements of their work unit(s) or team(s) and maintain clear scheduling rules that are understood by all parties.
- Flexible working arrangements must address required staffing levels to meet operational needs and work demands. Schedules must be practical and realistic.
Assessing Your Needs
You should be able to articulate a specific flexible working arrangement to fit your individual situation. Here are some general questions to consider as you develop your agreement:
- Is your job suitable for a flexible working arrangement?
- What type of flexibility do you need and why?
- How will business needs be met?
- Will you be able to adequately protect confidential information that you handle? Are you familiar with good information security practices and will you be able to follow them?
- How will you ensure that customer service needs are met?
- What will be the impact on your co-workers?
- What will be the impact on those you supervise?
- How will the arrangement affect your ability to achieve your performance development goals?
- How will your flexible working arrangement affect work volume, peak periods, projects in progress, and/or overtime?
- What equipment/technology will your flexible working arrangement require?
- What are the benefit implications (e.g., if your flexible work arrangement includes a request for reduced hours/days)?
- Are there any impacts on your salary, vacation, etc.?
- Are you self-directed and comfortable working without close supervision? Do you manage your time well?
- Be flexible; supervisors/colleagues won't always be able to work around your schedule. If you are on a flexible or compressed work week schedule, you may have to come in sometimes on days you ordinarily work from home or take as a day "off." These occurrences should be expected, especially in the event of crucial meetings or peak times. You should discuss these with your supervisor in advance, so that you can make arrangements for child care and/or transportation.
- Flexible arrangements should be well-communicated to all employees in the office or department. Make sure anyone who might need you knows exactly when they can get you, what to do if they feel it's urgent, and how long it will be before you return their voicemail or e-mail message.
- Reschedule time away from your worksite, if necessary, so that you do not miss office social events. Business often gets accomplished during informal settings, whether planned or not.
- Request regular feedback from your supervisor on the effectiveness of the flexible working arrangement.
Flexible Working Arrangement Questions and Answers
Q. What is the best way to request a flexible working arrangement?
A. Think about your needs and the nature of your work and be familiar with the Flexible Working Arrangement Principles on this website. Using the Guidelines for Staff, complete a Flexible Working Arrangement Request Form. Set up a meeting with your supervisor to discuss your needs and wishes.
Q. Must I justify or disclose the reason for my flexible working arrangement request?
A. Your supervisor will discuss your request in good faith. While it is not a requirement to disclose the reason for your request, it may be helpful if you provide some context. For example, you may share that you have regular on-going appointments instead of informing your supervisor about specific reasons for the appointments.
Q. May I request a flexible work arrangement due to a medical condition?
A. If you have a serious medical condition or a disability, certification from your health care provider will be needed and this will likely lead to Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) implications or an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The University has different avenues for supporting FMLA and ADA requests, and a flexible working arrangement may not be appropriate for you.
Q. My department has a longstanding policy that flexible work arrangements will not be approved. Will things change with Act 31?
A. There may be sound business reasons for denying flexible work arrangement requests, based on the nature of the work and/or the needs of the department. Managers will be expected to consider all requests and explore a variety of options, but sometimes a flexible arrangement will just not be possible.
Q. I am a non-exempt employee at UVM and my work is such that I feel I could work from home most of the time. Is this an option for me?
A. Generally speaking, no, it is not an option. A new telecommuting policy is being developed. This will address work at home more thoroughly.
Q. What if I make a flexible working arrangement proposal to my supervisor and it is turned down? Is there an appeal process?
A. Yes. If your supervisor denies your request, you may take your flexible working arrangement proposal to your supervisor's supervisor and make your case with that individual. Their decision will be final. Denial of a flexible working arrangement is not a grievable matter (i.e., it is not covered under the Grievance and Mediation Policy for Non-Represented Staff).
For More Information
If you are an employee seeking to make an alternative work schedule proposal and need further guidance, e-mail HRSinfo@uvm.edu.