Building a diverse, inclusive and adaptable workforce
Flexible working underpinned by mutual trust and respect was a key component in helping our people to work effectively and support health and wellbeing in 2020.
As we manage a COVID safe return to campus, we will need individuals and teams to continue to work flexibly, adjust to new working environments, and rethink how we can maximise our time and space on campus. Providing staff with greater input and choice into where, how and when they work will ease our transition back to campus, improve wellbeing and enhance our ability to attract and retain great people.
This webpage has been designed to give staff and supervisors the tools they need to understand, explore and adopt flexible working arrangements that suits them best.
Adopting a values-based approach
- The health and safety of our people is an overarching priority
- Our planning aligns with the University priorities and principles for returning to campus
- Managers are empowered at the local level to negotiate and set the most appropriate arrangements for their staff
- We will be inclusive in our approach, underpinned by our Faculty Values and mutual trust
- We are flexible and adaptable in trialing, reviewing and adjusting arrangements
Understanding different types of flexible working
Flexible work arrangements can be informal (negotiated and agreed on an ad hoc basis with the direct supervisor to meet specific individual needs) and formal arrangements as per the University’s Flexible Work Arrangements Procedure.
Flexible work arrangements include:
a. Flexibility in the scheduling of hours worked, such as alternative work schedules
b. Flexibility in the number of hours worked, such as part-time work and job shares; and
c. Flexibility in the place of work, such as working from home or off campus
Flexibility in work scheduling
- Non-standard start and finish times: Start and finish times vary within regular contracted hours of duty. Hours are based on the employee’s needs and approved by a supervisor.
- Compressed working week: Working fulltime hours in less than the traditional 5-day workweek by increasing daily hours worked.
- Purchased leave: The University has several leave options for you to consider, please contact HR Assist for more detail.
Flexibility in the number of hours worked
- Part-time hours: A reduction in number of hours worked per week or fortnight. This requires a balance between a staff member’s personal requirements, role requirements and impact on requestee’s team.
- Transition period part-time: Staff member gradually returning to work after a major life event (e.g., birth or an adoption of a child) by working part-time for a set period of time and eventually returning to full-time work.
- Job share: No more than two staff members sharing the duties of one full-time position with each staff member working part-time. Each job share partner will have the same position title and position description. This arrangement is appropriate when the responsibilities are distinct and easily separated.
- Transition to Retirement: The University have several retirement options for you to consider, please refer to the retirement procedure or contact your local HR representative for more detail.
Flexibility in the place of work
- Working from home: Work one or some of your working pattern from home. Working from home arrangements requires consideration of health and safety requirements.
- Alternate work location: Work at another University of Melbourne building or campus alternate to your official place of work.
Discussing and applying flexible working arrangements
Visible leadership is critical, where leader’s role model flexible working, empower others, are clear about performance expectations and manage for results.
Flexible work arrangements should not be static. They should be dynamic and responsive to the diverse needs at different stages of people’s lives and careers. There is no ‘one size fits all’, but the approach should be inclusive and consistent. These guidelines have been designed for both staff and supervisors to support mutually respectful conversations and normalise our approach towards a more flexible workplace.
- Explore different flexible working options & identify what will assist you in working effectively
- Identify benefits, potential challenges and impacts with proposed arrangements for you, your team and service delivery.
- Identify what needs to be adjusted with tasks and processes
- Consider how flexibility will work in your team environment (meetings, collaboration, communication, distribution of work)
- Be prepared to consider alternatives
It is also important to think about the benefits of time on campus such as team engagement, learning from others, opportunities for incidental discussion and problem solving, collaboration and networking.
- Be open to exploring creative solutions
- Reflect on whether you might have biases or preconceived ideas about flexible working
- Consider the benefits of the different types of FWA’s such as enabling diversity and inclusion, supporting wellbeing, maximising office space, and increasing productivity
- Consider what can be adjusted in the role, tasks and the team to support a request
- Consider how flexibility will work in your team environment (meetings, collaboration, communication, distribution of work), you may need to adjust your leadership style
- Create an environment where staff feel comfortable to request and discuss FWA’s (consider a short survey to understand the needs of your team
- Consider how office and research space can be maximised – what are the current and future communication, ICT and equipment needs of the team to enable flexibility and maximise productivity?
- Be prepared to consider alternatives that meet the needs of the individual and team
- The type of flexible work arrangement that will support your personal and work circumstances
- The timing of the proposal
- Adjustments required (does this impact your job role and performance expectations – e.g. if time fraction is being reduced?)
- Impact on the team/clients and how this will be managed
- Work set up and equipment required
- Confidentiality and security of information management and OH&S requirements (if working off campus)
- How the arrangement will be reviewed
- Schedule adequate time to discuss and consider the staff members’ request
- Is the request for an FWA due to a protected attribute (for example, parental or carer responsibilities, disability, or health condition)? *
- Reasonable adjustments to the role, tasks, processes, and team to determine the viability of the arrangements
- When approving be clear on what has been agreed to, clarify expectations and the time frames involved.
- If after exploring all options the request cannot be approved, check with People & Culture that the decision to decline is reasonable. Communicate the reasons for declining the request to the employee in person and in writing within 21 days. Offer to set a future date to revisit the request
* If a staff member is requesting an FWA due to a disability or health condition seek further advice from People and Culture and MDHS OHS Team about reasonable adjustments to ensure OH&S needs are met.
Ensure team members, and where relevant, customers and stakeholders are aware of your working arrangement.
Submit required documentation/systems updates:
- Reducing/changing your working days via time fraction/work pattern change request. Access the guide here: Modifying your Time Fraction/Work Pattern in Themis
- Working from home via HR 42 - Home Based Work Agreement - Professional Staff
- Applying for leave via Themis self-service
- Purchasing additional leave HR 10PL - Application for Purchased Leave
- Extending your parental leave via the HR 50A - Application for Parental Leave
- Transitioning to retirement - further information is available here
- Document the arrangement to ensure a shared understanding of what has been agreed to
- Clearly define and communicate performance expectations and ways of working
- Communicate the arrangements with team members
- Ensure any changes are actioned, such as approving leave or part-time work arrangements are submitted in Themis.
- If the changes are working outside the span of ordinary working hours seek further advice from HR Assist
- Review if the arrangements are working by checking regularly with your supervisor and team
- Determine if any adjustments are required and refine arrangements
- Reflect on the challenges, success and benefits of the arrangements
- Discuss effectiveness of arrangements including any need for refinements during regular “check-ins” and career discussions
- If arrangements are not working discuss and agree on adjusting or reverting to previous work arrangements
- Note the benefits and successes and share your flexible working story with others
Successful flexible working arrangements in action
We will be sharing stories of successful flexible work arrangements from people across the Faculty.
If you would like to contribute to this page by sharing yours, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Key contacts and resources to assist you further
If you would like to explore flexible working, schedule a discussion with your supervisor.
Further support in preparing for this discussion and navigating your personal circumstances services such as the Employee Assistance Program and Counselling and Psychological services are available:
Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
The University of Melbourne Employee Assistance Program is a confidential personal and professional development resource available for all employees and their immediate family members. The EAP is designed to help maintain the right balance between wellbeing and performance. The EAP services are delivered by an external provider Benestar. Free sessions are available to all staff 24/7 providing an array of tools to support several personal and professional facets.
Counselling and Psychological services (CAPS)
The University of Melbourne Counselling and Psychological Services provides free, confidential, short-term professional counselling to staff. Visit the website for all appointments and enquiries.
If you would like further information about policy and procedure please contact your local People and Culture team.