UNISON, alongside the other unions at SHU, has agreed changes to the “Right to Request Flexible Working” policy.

The law gives employees a “right to request” changes to their working pattern in order to help balance work and home life.  Although there is no legal right to have a request granted automatically, it must be considered seriously.  Sheffield Hallam’s policy is that managers should view requests positively and try to accommodate requests where feasible, subject to business need.

Staff can exercise their legal right to request flexible working at any time, but for many years University policy has encouraged staff who want to work flexibly to discuss this informally with their manager. Often, the desired changes can be agreed without the need to submit a formal request under the legislation.   However, the current policy requires that if the changes being requested constitute a contractual change (a change in hours, for example) – as they often would – then a formal application has to be made, even if the line manager supports the request.

The newly revised policy, agreed through discussions with UNISON and the other unions, will enable a flexible working request to be approved by a line manager even if the change is contractual (so long as the line manager is authorised to do so). In other words, where staff can reach agreement with their manager there will usually no longer be any need to submit a formal application .    Of course, if agreement cannot be reached informally, staff will still be able to exercise their formal “right to request” by making an application under the legislative framework.

This change will save time, reduce unnecessary bureaucracy and paperwork, and should make the process of requesting flexible working a much less onerous and anxious one for our members.

For advice on the policy, or on making a request, contact your local steward or UNISON contact.

At the time of writing, the revised flexible working policy has not yet been uploaded to the intranet (, but this should happen soon.