Flexible Working Arrangements

Massey University supports flexible working arrangements. Supporting successful and effective flexible work arrangements has positive benefits for both the employer and employee.

A list of the types of flexible working arrangements as suggested by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) are listed at the bottom of this webpage.

Massey currently supports a number of different flexible working arrangements and these guidelines are provided to assist managers and staff when a request for flexible working is made. Not all the arrangements as discussed by MBIE may be able to be operationalised in all colleges and schools at Massey. Advice from your HR Advisor or a union representative on the appropriate options should be taken before discussing any particular option.

Legal obligations

The current collective and individual employment agreements provide that the employer will give genuine consideration to any request for flexible work by an employee. Any such arrangement will be recorded in writing including a time frame for the arrangement to either cease or be reviewed. Flexible working arrangements must also comply with Massey Policies and Procedures. For example in considering requests relating to moving towards retirement then consideration of the Retirement Policy needs to be given.

Other policies that may be relevant include:

The University provides a better entitlement than is currently contained in the Employment Relations Act 2000. Under Part 6AA of The Act 2000 there are provisions in relation to flexible work arrangements where the employee has caring responsibilities for any person. The Act sets out that a request must be made in writing, must be genuinely considered by the employer and responded to within 3 months and that if the request is refused then reasons must be given in writing to the employee. The employer may refuse a request (S 69AAF) where the employee is not eligible to make a request or on the grounds of

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

Any other relevant matters may also be taken into account.

The current provisions are under review and may be extended to cover situations other than when an employee has caring responsibilities for any person. This will not affect Massey as the University will consider any request for a flexible working arrangement.

Requests for Flexible Working Arrangement

An employee may make a verbal or written request for a flexible working arrangement. Genuine consideration should be given by the manager to whether or not such a request can be accommodated. The manager should have a clear understanding of why the employee is making the request and for how long they consider they need the arrangement in place. The reasons an employee may make a request for a flexible working arrangement may relate to:

  • The need to care for a sick or ageing family member
  • Family responsibilities following periods of parental leave – the person may wish to reduce their hours or days of work
  • Child care responsibilities
  • They want additional leave over school holidays
  • Wishing to move towards retirement
  • Flexibility of start and finish times
  • Flexibility in terms of where the work is undertaken
  • Wanting to reduce the number of days they work for health or personal reasons
  • Flexibility in terms of managing a workload
  • Working only semester times and having non work periods outside of these whilst remaining a permanent employee
  • Working 10 months of the year and not working for 2 months but receiving salary for 12 months to enable the person to return to their country of origin for a period
  • Living in a different location to the work location
  • Ongoing health issues requiring flexibility in attendance.

Who can make a request

At Massey University any permanent employee (whether full-time or part-time) or an employee on a fixed term agreement may make a request for a flexible working arrangement but under the Employment Relations Act 2000 the employee must have been employed for 6 months continuously with the employer and have the care of any person.

Considering the request

Before declining or accepting a request for a flexible work arrangement a manager may take advice from their HR Advisor. The following are factors the manager may need to consider when considering a request:

  • What impact, if any, this arrangement will have on the unit and on other staff?
  • The fact that by accepting the arrangement this may be beneficial to both the staff member and the unit.
  • In terms of managing the flexible arrangement are there certain requirements that will need to be met e.g. attendance at meetings on campus, health and safety arrangements if the person is working from home, internet access from a different location?
  • You may need to discuss with your HR Advisor any pay, leave or superannuation issues arising from changing to a flexible arrangement such as where the salary is annualised or where the person is moving towards retirement. The employee should be advised of any implications in this area.
  • What key performance indicators need to be put in place for the duration of the flexible working arrangement in order for both parties to have clear expectations as to what is required during the operation of the arrangement and to enable both parties to assess whether or not the arrangement should continue?
  • What duration will the arrangement be and when and how will it be reviewed?
  • Does the arrangement have any cost implications?

If the flexible working arrangement relates to annualisation of salary then there are key issues impacting on this type of arrangement and it can only be implemented in accordance with guidelines available through the HR Advisors. This option is currently limited to senior academic staff.

Operating a flexible working arrangement requires trust and open dialogue both with the employee and with other staff. It is important to approach the request from the basis of considering how it might operate to promote a positive workplace culture rather than a basis that such arrangements are a hindrance or impost on the organisation. Talking to other managers or staff who may have similar flexible working arrangements in place might be helpful. If there will be an impact on the employee’s colleagues then consultation with those colleagues may also be useful.  

Agreeing to a request

When a manager agrees to an employee’s request for a flexible working arrangement (except variations to hours and days) it is important for the parties to mutually record their agreement as to the nature of the arrangement, its duration, how and when it will be reviewed, what the situation will be if the arrangement does not continue after a period (for example: will the employee return to the same working arrangement that was in place before the flexible working arrangement was put in place?), and any expectations that are required to be met during the term of the arrangement.

A record of the agreement should be lodged with People and Organisational Development and placed on the employee’s personal file. The reason for this is that if there is any change to the employee’s manager during the time the arrangement is in place then a clear record is available for the new manager. This will prevent any misunderstandings as to the nature of the arrangement. It may be important to advise other staff formally of the change in the employees working arrangements to avoid suspicion or misunderstanding as to what the employee is doing.

The employee should be advised that the arrangement cannot be changed except with the agreement of the manager.

Declining the request

If a manager determines to decline the request then it is useful to consider the grounds for refusing a request as contained in the Employment Relations Act 2000 and as cited above. The decision to decline the request should be given in writing with clear reasons as to why the request is being declined in line with the grounds above or any other that grounds that may be relevant. Any decision to decline the request should be given at least one month after the request but no longer than 3 months after the request as per the Employment Relations Act 2000. It may be useful, in addition to writing to the employee, to meet with them in person to explain the reasons for declining. Before declining a request consideration might be given to whether or not the situation could be trialled for a period before determining whether or not the arrangement will or won’t work.

For further information please contact:

• An HR Advisor
• HR Services
• Remuneration manager in relation to retirement options
• Other staff who may also have arrangements in place
• The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website
• http://myportfolio.ac.nz/view/view.php?t=8cMTlVCuZbE9XGA1Bwmt
• The Tertiary Education Union, the PSA, the Engineers Union or TIASA.

Types of flexible working arrangements as suggested by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE)

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