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Flexible Working/Working from Home

Guidance on Working from Home

1.      Background

The University policy on flexible working, which incorporates the statutory right to request flexible working provided for by the Flexible Working Regulations includes the provision for working from home (also referred to as ‘teleworking’).

Working from home may be short-term (e.g. to complete a work project, as part of a phased return from maternity or sick leave) or longer-term (requiring a formal variation of terms and conditions of employment).

2.       Requests

Staff considering making a request to work from home should first discuss their initial plans with their immediate manager, taking into consideration the points covered in Annex A which address working environment, health, safety, security and insurance.

3.      Working from Home (‘teleworking’) form PD/WFH

If after the discussion with their line manager the member of staff decides to request to work from home, they should submit the form PD/WFH to the hr-office@eng.cam.ac.uk. The form is available for download through the HR Office website.

Applications where the employee is exercising a statutory right to apply to working flexibly (under the Flexible Working regulations, Employment Act 2002) must also include a completed FLEXAF form. This is available for download on the University HR website.

Flexible Working is defined in the Employment Act 2002, and it is unrelated to the Department’s flexi time scheme for Assistant Staff. Members of Assistant Staff whose applications for working from home are successful may not accumulate flexi-time on these days.

In addition to submitting the forms PD/WHF and FLEXAF (where appropriate), employees must undertake a risk assessment of the home working environment, which addresses the health, safety and security precautions. This should be completed on the Working from Home Risk Assessment Form, which must be returned to the Department's Safety Office. For practical advice on how to complete a full risk assessment, see the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) publication Five steps to risk assessment.

4.      Consideration of an application

In all cases, the Secretary of the Department must be satisfied that the arrangements proposed in the request to work from home are suitable for the work to be undertaken.

Not all roles will lend themselves to working from home. However, if a request to work from home is refused, the grounds for the refusal must be specified and fall within one or more of the following:

  • the burden of additional costs
  • detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demands
  • inability to reorganise work among existing staff
  • inability to recruit additional staff
  • detrimental impact on quality or performance
  • insufficiency of work during the periods the employee proposes to work
  • planned structural changes.

Mrs Collins-Taylor, on behalf of the Head of Department, will meet with the employee formally to consider the request to work from home. If the application is approved by the Department, the application will be sent to University HR for formal notification of the change in contractual terms and conditions to include the employee's home as a designated place of work. University HR will then formally notify the member of staff.

5.      Management of ‘teleworking’

Once the arrangement is in place, both the manager and the employee must apply the same standards and follow the same procedures (e.g. with regard to planning, monitoring workload, assessing performance, engagement in appraisal and training, etc.) as they would if the employee were to be located in the Department.

Employees will receive their normal salary whilst working from home, according to the hours of work specified in the contract of employment. Payment for overtime, where appropriate, will be made only where there has been prior agreement between the manager and the employee for the additional hours worked.

The employee must have access to a workspace at home that allows the work duties to be carried out safely and effectively, using all the equipment and resources necessary to carry out the job. No contribution will be made by the Department towards normal household expenses such as heating, lighting, home insurance or council tax costs.

An arrangement may be reviewed from time to time at the instigation of either the manager or the member of staff if evidence suggests that it is no longer effective. When proposing any changes, the same procedures outlined above must be followed.

Annex A

Work Considerations

a. Work duties

  • Ensure that you can continue to deliver key services, including those which are time-critical and cannot easily be pre-planned;
  • Check that the range of duties to be carried out is consistent with those set out in the relevant role profile;
  • Set clear objectives for the work to be undertaken from home and have procedures in place to monitor work output clearly and objectively;
  • Avoid creating inefficient working practices (e.g. by duplicating work already carried out elsewhere).

 b. Working practices

 Establish when work duties will be carried out and set times to be available for normal work contact (e.g. telephone enquiries, responding to email);

  • Plan regular, structured forms of communication, in order to maintain effective working relationships (e.g. with colleagues, manager, and any staff supervised);
  • Set a schedule of regular attendance at work in the Department, to enable the employee to keep up-to-date and contribute to team meetings and networking;
  • Working from home requires an equivalent amount of undivided attention, effort, and commitment as working within the Department;
  • Staff working from home must be able to work without direct supervision and manage their time effectively.

c. Management practices

  • The usual arrangements still apply when reporting incapacity for work due to sickness and/or other unplanned disruptions to the agreed work schedule (e.g. contacting your manager, completing self-certificate CHRIS/62, or supplying medical certificate); 
  • When the working from home arrangement follows a period of ill health, or is during a recovery from an injury, there must be a medical certificate confirming the employee is otherwise fit to resume work duties;
  • Assistant Staff on grant funding must continue to report their working hours on the appropriate systems (CENTAUR/EC time sheets/other);
  • Members of staff working from home cannot partake in the Department’s flexi time scheme;
  • Staff working from home should be invited to and participate in essential training, induction and staff briefings as part of their normal work schedule;
  • Schemes for appraisal, staff development and consideration for promotion apply equally to those working from home and those whose work is carried out in the Department;
  • University HR policies and procedures (including grievance and disciplinary) apply equally to those working from home and those whose work is carried out in the Department;
  • Access to the full range of University services and facilities (e.g. Counselling service, University card, email account, etc.) apply equally to those working from home and those whose work is carried out in the Department.