SOAS University of London

Human Resources

Flexible Working Guidelines for Staff

These Guidelines for Staff are in the form of Frequently Asked Questions. Click on the relevant question below to take you to our advice.

Click on the link below for a downloadable version of these Guidelines.

Guidelines (PDF)

Frequently Asked Questions

What is flexible working? 

The standard working pattern at the School is 35 hours per week between 9.00am to 5.00pm, Monday to Friday. Flexible working arrangements mean a wide variety of different types of ways of working which differ from these standard arrangements; such as home-working or term-time only working. You can find a list and explanation of different types of flexible working in the Definitions section of the School’s Flexible Working Procedure.

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I work part-time already – can I still submit a flexible working request? 

Yes, providing you meet the qualifying criteria, you can submit a flexible working request.

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I want to work flexibly but I don’t meet the qualifying criteria. Can I still apply to work flexibly? 

If you do not meet the qualifying criteria, you do not have the legal right to request flexible working and the same rights to use the School’s Flexible Working Procedure. However, the School is recognises the importance of helping employee’s balance their working life with other priorities, such as charity work, life-long learning, leisure and other activities. Raise your request with your line manager in the first instance – they may be able to accommodate your request on an informal basis without the need to use a formal procedure. You may find it still helpful to use this guidance to prepare for a meeting with your manager as they will have to consider similar issues as for formal requests under the Flexible Working Procedure.

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Why do I have to complete the Flexi1 form to apply for flexible working? 

Under the legislation, you have to submit a formal written request and supply certain specific information. The Flexi1 form is designed to enable you to supply all the required information to fulfil these legal obligations and ensure that the School has the key facts it needs to carefully consider your request.

The Flexi1 form is not mandatory but if you submit your request in a different format, you must ensure your flexible working application provides all the information required by law. Failure to do so, will lead to delays in the process as the School will not be able to consider your request until your written application for flexible working is legally compliant.

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What issues should I consider when making my flexible working request? 
  • That if your request is agreed, it normally will be on a permanent basis.
  • Whether you would like to ask for a trial period to see if the proposed arrangements suit your needs, the requirements of your role, and the School.
  • If you are requesting an arrangement which involves reducing your hours of work, your salary and other terms and conditions will be reduced on a pro-rata basis. The HR Department can give you information on this. There will also be implications for your pension and you can obtain information from the Payroll & Pensions Manager or your pension scheme. Note however, the School cannot give you pensions advice and if appropriate, you should seek independent financial advice.
  • If you are requesting an arrangement which will result in you being paid variable amounts each month, your terms and conditions such as annual leave, and salary will be affected. Your pension (if applicable) may also be affected and as stated above, you can obtain further information (but not advice) from the School’s Pension and Payroll Manager.
  • It is to your advantage to provide as much detail on the Flexi1 form as possible about the pattern you would like to work to ensure the School fully understands your request.
  • Consider what the impact on your colleagues, manager and job may be if your working pattern or arrangements change. You should aim to show on the Flexi1 form that your application will not harm your performance, job, team or the School in any way. In some cases, flexible working may be beneficial to the School – for example, if it allows you to provide additional cover at peak hours – and if this is the case, clearly explain this on the Flexi1 form.
  • Think about any potential problems which could arise from your request. How could these be overcome? For example, if you are applying to work from home, how will you communicate with colleagues in your team? Ensure you address any potential problems in your Flexi1 form.
  • Consider if there are any health and safety implications which may arise out of your requested flexible working arrangements. For some forms of flexible working, such as home-working, the School will need to carry out a risk assessment in conjunction with you.
  • Getting advice from colleagues (particularly if they are already working flexibly) or from your trade union on your application and completing your form.
  • If your manager is on leave or if you are not sure who to submit your request to, consult your designated HR Officer.

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When should I submit the Flexi1 form? 

There is no set deadline under the legislation, but you need to give the School as much notice in advance as practicable to allow all the stages of the procedure to be followed and your request carefully considered. It can take at least 14 weeks for your request to be fully considered. You should therefore aim to submit the request at least 14 weeks before you want the new arrangements to start. If you do not submit your request 14 weeks in advance and if your flexible working request is subsequently approved, the School may not be able to agree to your preferred start date for the new arrangements.

If your childcare or caring arrangements unexpectedly change and you would like the School to consider your request urgently as a result, you should immediately discuss this with your manager and designated HR Officer.

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I am going on maternity leave and want to work part-time when I return to work. When should I submit my application? 

It would be a good idea to discuss this with your manager before you start your maternity leave. Bear in mind that you will need to attend at least one flexible working meeting – will you be happy to attend this during your maternity leave? It might be possible for your manager and a member of HR to hold any meetings at your home or other convenient location – try to discuss this with them. Ensure that you make your application at least 14 weeks in advance of your return to work from maternity leave – bear in mind you may need to submit your application even earlier, particularly if your manager needs to make arrangements to cover part of your role (e.g. recruit a job share partner etc).

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What should I do to help me prepare and participate in the flexible working meeting or appeal meeting? 
  • Be familiar with the details on your Flexi1 form and be prepared to expand or explain any of your application.
  • Prepare to be flexible. Your manager may ask you to consider a trial period or alternative forms or patterns of flexible working.
  • If you wish to be accompanied, ensure you inform your manager (or HR if it is an appeal meeting). Ensure that you fully brief your colleague or trade union representative in advance and give them a copy of your Flexi1 form or Flexi3 form (if it is an appeal meeting) and your job description.
  • Read the School’s Flexible Working Procedure and consider obtaining other forms of guidance on flexible working (see below).

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Where can I get further guidance from? 
  • Your trade union representative should be able to assist you and may have further information for you.
  • Your designated HR team can also provide assistance.
  • You can also find information online – the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR – formerly the Department of Trade and Industry) produce a comprehensive Guide for Employees and Employers on Flexible Working which you can find at GOV.UK website.

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