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Flexible working policy

To help achieve our vision of being one of the world’s leading universities, we want to build a world class workforce. We can work towards this through enabling our managers to build flexible teams whilst creating a positive working environment in which all our staff can succeed.

The University has developed a range of flexible working arrangements to support this ambition. Through these arrangements, we aim to support our managers to deliver flexible services that meet the changing needs of our students and other customers, as well as assist our workforce to achieve a positive work-life balance.

As of 6 April 2024, statutory regulations have reduced the time for dealing with a flexible working application from 3 months to 2 months.  This has been reflected in our updated policy and processes.

Policy details

Flexible working is used to describe a range of ways of working. At the University we consider the following as options:

  • flexitime
  • annualised hours (A contract where the employee agrees to work for a specified number of hours each year.  The times of attendance/work are not normally stipulated within the contract.)
  • part-time working (Any employee is contracted to work less hours that a full-time employee (1FTE) at Exeter, 36.5 hours a week.)
  • teaching restrictions
  • compressed hours
  • homeworking
  • job sharing

This policy (and associated guidance) is in place to ensure clarity about the flexible working arrangements offered at the University and how these can be used. 

This policy applies to all staff working for and directly employed by the University.

Performance is more important than presence: Staff performance should be measured by what they achieve rather than how many hours they work or how long they stay in the office.

Flexibility can improve the efficiency of the University: When flexible working options are managed well and offered proactively, they can support us to reach our business goals, manage space more efficiently and improve customer service.

Students, customers and research excellence will come first: All staff are entitled to make a case for working flexibly, but there will be situations where a specific arrangement will not work because of our commitments to students, customers and research excellence. Guidance is provided to support managers and staff consider the impact of flexible working and to take due account of the University’s business needs.

Different arrangements work for different Faculties, Services and individuals: There is no one-size-fits-all solution. The best working arrangements are tailored to the job and individual. There is guidance for Faculties and Services to tailor flexible working for their different business needs.

Flexibility involves give and take: Responsibility for making it work must be shared by employees and managers. Together you need to assess opportunities and challenges in any proposed arrangement openly and honestly.

Flexibility can help us achieve a Positive Working Environment for staff: It can help to improve work life balance and support a happy and healthy workforce.

Careers should not be penalised: The careers of staff working flexibly should not suffer. Business need, performance and skills should be the basis for promotion. As new job opportunities arise, employees and managers should discuss and decide the location and hours of work required.

Arrangements are not permanent: New working patterns need to be flexible enough to respond to business requirements and changes in individual circumstances. Arrangements should be regularly reviewed to ensure they are still working for both the member of staff and the University.

Everyone should be honest and open about flexible working arrangements and share responsibility for making them work.

Leadership teams of Faculties and Services are responsible for reading the relevant guidance and making decisions about flexible working based on the principles above.

Line managers are responsible for thinking about how flexible working in their team may help them to achieve their business objectives and manage space effectively. Requests to work flexibly must be managed in line with the principles above and associated guidance; managers should encourage and support requests that have a positive or neutral impact on the University.

Staff who wish to make a request to work flexibly, are responsible for reading the relevant guidance and for considering and discussing the impact on your colleagues, the service you provide and how any issues may be overcome.

Human Resources is responsible for keeping the policy and guidance up to date, providing advice to managers and staff, recording and confirming arrangements as well as monitoring the overall uptake of flexible working at the University.

These pages of the website are designed to help Managers and Staff understand these different flexible working arrangements, their benefits and parameters and provide the tools to enable successful flexible working.

Download the Flexible working policy