Otago Polytechnic

Flexible Working Policy

Section
Corporate
To be read in conjunction with
Approval Date
1 October 2020
Approved By
Chief Executive
Next Review
30 November 2022
Responsibility
Deputy Chief Executive: People, Culture and Safety
Baldrige Criteria
Workforce focus
Purpose

Otago Polytechnic Ltd operates a high trust, high accountability working environment and this policy works alongside those values, to support staff to work flexibly in terms of when they work and where they work.

This policy refers to staff whose primary employment with Otago Polytechnic is Campus based but who access flexible work arrangements on a regular basis. Staff who are primarily employed in an off-Campus capacity should refer to Appendix 1. Flexible working arrangements are discretionary and do not constitute a contractual entitlement or create an expectation of permanency, unless such an arrangement has been expressly agreed between Otago Polytechnic Ltd and the individual staff member.

This policy is not applicable to ad hoc requests for occasional flexibility to work from home. Such requests may be approved at the discretion of the Formal Leader on an ad hoc basis with due regard for the potential impact on other team members, learners, and/or other customers.

Compliance
  • Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, and all subsequent amendments
  • Employee Relations Act 2000 Part 6AA, and all subsequent amendments
  • Domestic Violence Act 1995, and all subsequent amendments
  • Human Rights Act 1993
  • State Sector Act 2013
  • Conflict of Interest Policy
  • Use and security of information systems Policy
  • Information Management Policy
Policy

1. Flexible Working Arrangements

1.1  All staff may apply to their Formal Leader for flexible working arrangements at any time and there is no limit to the number of requests that staff can make. Formal Leaders are responsible for approving individual requests after due consideration and, when appropriate, consultation with the team. The Formal Leader is also responsible for maintaining records relating to such decisions.

Heads of College/Directors ultimately have oversight of all requests and must be informed of all decisions reached. In their oversight role, HOCs/Directors are responsible for monitoring the fair and consistent use of the policy and ensuring that the principles are being observed in good faith.

1.2 Staff members can ask at any time for flexibility regarding:

a. hours of work (over a day or week)

b. days of work

c. place of work

d. how work is done and managed in the workplace

e. how starting and ending work are managed.

1.3  Requests for flexible working can be made verbally or in writing, and any approved arrangements must be documented. Documentation may be via email or using the template flexible working arrangement agreement that is on Tūhono.

1.4  Requests for flexible working must not be approved as permanent, and instead must be for a defined period of a maximum of 12 months, that includes a review dates (or dates, depending on the length of time the arrangements are approved for).

1.5  Requests for flexible working must be considered in relation to the following core principles:

a.  Service to customers (learners, other staff, the community) must not be negatively impacted.   

b.  Health, Safety and Wellbeing requirements must be met.

c.  There must be no additional costs to OP as a result.

d.  The request from an individual staff member to work from home or work flexible hours must be discussed with their team to determine the potential impact on the team as a whole and to be captured in the team’s plan. This is particularly important for incumbents of roles that have high levels of customer-facing activity.

2. Remote Work

2.1 As per clause 1 of this policy, staff can request flexibility in relation to where they undertake their work. This most commonly applies to requests to work from home. 

2.2 OP can also request staff to work from home or from another site at any time if there are valid reasons for doing so (e.g. health and safety concerns or renovations occurring at usual place of work).

2.3 OP does not support working from home in situations where a staff member is sick or injured. Sick leave must be used in those situations.

2.4 OP does not generally support working from home in situations where someone dependent on a staff member requires regular, long-term care (e.g. pre-school aged children where alternative care is not available). The exception to this is one-off or very short-term instances due to illness or injury.

2.5 Staff members working from home are required to comply with all of OP’s policies and instructions, are expected to be as productive as when they are on campus, and must be available to attend meetings, answer phone calls and respond to emails etc.

3. Health and Safety

3.1. Staff members must ensure that they comply with their obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, as well as all relevant OP policies, procedures, and directions. They must also take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure that in the performance of their duties, they do not undermine their own health and safety or the health and safety of any other person, regardless of work location.  Further information is available on Tūhono.

3.2. Staff members who work from home are required to ensure that:

a. They take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure their safety while working from home. This includes identifying, managing, eliminating, isolating, and/or minimising potential hazards, as well as immediately reporting such actual/potential hazards to their formal leader and enter them into the OP Ltd Health and Safety Management System, Vault.

b. The workspace available to them is appropriate and sufficient for the safe and effective performance of their duties, and any potential health and safety risks in this respect are immediately notified to the Formal Leader

c. They manage their working time effectively, including taking appropriate rest and meal breaks

d. Any sickness or injury or work-related health issues are immediately reported to OP Ltd, as if the staff member were working on campus.

e. They immediately communicate any concerns or problems in relation to working from home in general, with their Formal Leader and/or Health & Safety representative.

4. Work Location and Home Office Equipment, Utilities and Travel

4.1. OP Ltd and the staff member will agree what will be considered to constitute the workstation for the purposes of the performance of the staff member’s work duties, and for the purposes of ACC and occupational health and safety considerations (e.g. ‘home office’ or ‘dining room’).  Areas not covered by that agreement will be deemed not a workplace for the purposes of any ACC claim and/or occupational health and safety considerations. Support for the physical and technical setup of a staff member’s workstation at home will be provided remotely by OP.  Information is available on Tūhono.

4.2. The workspace the staff member intends using needs to be initially approved by OP Ltd and may be inspected in rare circumstances, to ensure it is suitable for the effective and safe performance of the staff member’s duties. Staff members are expected to consent to such reasonable inspections.

4.3. The staff member must immediately notify OP Ltd of any change to the home office setup, address and contact details that may adversely affect their ability to perform their duties effectively and safely.

4.4. If staff members are granted permission to work from home in terms of this policy it is their responsibility to ensure that they have the relevant equipment and connectivity to be able to execute their work and to be contactable during agreed working hours. They are also responsible for ensuring that they have access to OP applications and programmes to allow them to fulfil their role without having to ask or rely on other staff. Technical support for setting up necessary access is available from the Service Desk.

4.5. Unless expressly agreed otherwise, OP will not be responsible for meeting or contributing to any costs associated with the setting up, maintenance and operation of a home-office (for example, furniture, computer equipment, internet/power bills). Staff members who regularly work from both home and a campus-based office will not be provided with additional IT equipment (e.g. keyboards, monitors, computer mice etc.). If OP provides any such equipment, the staff member must take all reasonable steps to keep the provided equipment safe and in working order.

4.6. Unless expressly agreed otherwise, any costs associated with travelling to campus on a day that would otherwise be deemed a staff member’s regular ‘off-site workday’ will not be covered by OP.

4.7. Notwithstanding any agreement reached regarding working-from-home, the staff member must be available to attend meetings in person if required (i.e. they cannot use ‘I am working from home’ as an excuse not to attend face-to-face meetings or otherwise be present on campus if so instructed by their Programme Head/Team Leader/HOC/Director).

5. Security Considerations

5.1. All OP policies and instructions regarding the protection of confidential business information continue to apply in the context of any working from home arrangement. Business/work-related information and data is to be kept secure, either in locked storage or by restricting access to work-related files on computers (for example, by using passwords, etc.).

5.2. Staff will safeguard all business/work-related information and documentation from access by other members of the household and/or visitors.

6. Risk Management when working from home

6.1. For insurance purposes, both OP Ltd and the staff member must be able to distinguish between work and personal time in the home. The hours to be worked at home should be agreed in writing. 

6.2. To prevent liability on the part of OP Ltd and maintain appropriate professionalism, meetings at their home are to be avoided where practicable.

6.3. Staff members with a regular agreed schedule of working at home should maintain appropriate levels of homeowners or renter’s insurance coverage to protect personal and OP assets.

6.4.  Staff members must ensure that they do not have other commitments outside of OP’s business at the time they are working from home (for example, it is not appropriate to combine home-based work with caring for dependants during work hours).

 

Signature

Approved by:
Dr. Megan Gibbons
Chief Executive
01/10/2020