Flexible Working Policy

Approval Date
3 April 2023
Approved By
Executive Leadership Team
Next Review
30 November 2024
People, Culture and Safety

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

This policy refers to staff members whose primary employment with OPBD is campus-based but who access flexible work arrangements on a regular basis.

Staff members 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 and would not normally be approved as permanent or create an expectation of permanency unless such an arrangement has been expressly agreed between OPBD 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.

  1. Flexible Working Arrangements

1.1     All staff members 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/or equivalent ultimately have oversight of all requests and must be informed of all decisions reached. In their oversight role, the Head of Colleges/Directors/or equivalent are responsible for monitoring the fair and consistent use of this policy and ensuring that the principles are being observed in good faith.

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

  • hours of work (over a day or week),
  • days of work,
  • place of work,
  • how work is done and managed in the workplace,
  • how starting and ending work are to be 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 (refer to Appendix 2).

1.4     Requests for flexible working are not normally approved as permanent, and instead would normally be for a fixed term/defined period of up to a maximum of twelve (12) months, which includes a review date (or dates, depending on the length of time the flexible working arrangements are approved for).

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

  • Service to customers (learners, other staff, and the community) must not be negatively impacted.
  • Health, safety, and well-being requirements must be met.
  • There must be no additional costs to Otago Polytechnic Business Division as a result.
  • The request from a 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.
  1. Remote Work

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

2.2     Otago Polytechnic Business Division can also request staff members 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 their usual place of work).

2.3     Otago Polytechnic Business Division 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     Otago Polytechnic Business Division 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 Otago Polytechnic Business Division’s policies, procedures, and directions, 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.

  1. Health and Safety

3.1.     Staff members must ensure that they comply with their obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, and all subsequent amendments, as well as all relevant OPBD 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, Protocols for Working from Home.

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

  1. They take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure their health and safety while working from home. This includes identifying, managing, eliminating, and/or minimising potential hazards, and immediately reporting such actual/potential hazards to their Formal Leader and entering them into the OPBD Health and Safety Management System, Vault.
  2. 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. 
  3. They manage their working time effectively, including taking appropriate rest and meal breaks.
  4. Any sickness or injury or work-related health issues are immediately reported to OPBD as if the staff member were working on-campus.
  5. They immediately communicate any concerns or problems in relation to working from home in general, with their Formal Leader and/or Health and Safety representative. 
  6. Work Location and Home Office Equipment, Utilities and Travel

4.1.     Otago Polytechnic Business Division and the staff member will agree on 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 the Accident Compensation Commission (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 OPBD.  Information is available on Tūhuno.

4.2.     The workspace the staff member intends using needs to be initially approved by OPBD 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 OPBD 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 a staff member is 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 duties and to be contactable during agreed working hours. They are also responsible for ensuring that they have access to OPBD applications and programmes to allow them to fulfil their role without having to ask or rely on other staff member/s. Any technical support for setting up necessary access is available from the OPBD Service Desk.

4.5     Unless expressly agreed otherwise, OPBD  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 home will not have a campus-based office provided with additional IT equipment (e.g., keyboards, monitors, computer mouse etc.). If the OPBD 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 OPBD.

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 instructed by their Formal Leader, Programme Head/Team Leader/Head of College/Director/or equivalent).

  1. Security Considerations

5.1.    All OPBD policies, procedures, and directions 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 are 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 members will safeguard all business/work-related information and documentation from access by other members of the household and/or visitors.

  1. Risk Management When Working from Home

6.1.     For insurance purposes, both OPBD 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 upon in writing. 

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

6.3.     Staff members with a regularly agreed schedule of working at home should maintain appropriate levels of homeowner's or renter’s insurance coverage to protect personal and OPBD assets.

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


Te Pūkenga Policies

Otago Polytechnic Business Division Policies/Procedures

Version Control

Policy Version: V6 Previously Coded: MP0450


Standard Operating Procedure: Flexible Working Arrangements

In relation to the Flexible Working Policy, the following procedures should be followed when requesting Flexible Working Arrangements under Part 6AA of the Employment Relations (Flexible Working Arrangements) Amendment Act 2007.

Note: The usual timeframe for consideration of a flexible work arrangement request is one month, however in compliance with the Domestic Violence Act 1995, and all subsequent amendments, any flexible working arrangement requests resulting from Domestic Violence will be prioritised and responded to within two (2) weeks.

Flexible Working Arrangements

All staff members can ask at any time to change, noting that a permanent request would not normally be approved for:

  • hours of work (over a day, a week, or year),
  • days of work,
  • place of work..

Flexible work can also be used to change:

  • how work is done,
  • how starting and ending work are managed, and
  • how work is managed in the workplace to help employees and businesses.

 Flexible work does not just mean working part-time instead, or full-time, or changing the hours that you work.

If you are a staff member you have a “right to request” flexible working arrangements, noting flexible working arrangements are not normally approved as permanent. You can ask:

·       to change your working arrangements, noting flexible working arrangements are not normally approved as permanent they are usually temporary/for a fixed term/set time

·       anytime, from your first day of work.

·       for any purpose or reason. For example, caring for children or older parents, playing sports, or working in the community.

·       for flexible working arrangements, but the employer does not have to agree with the request if there is a good business reason for declining.

If you are an employer, you have a “duty to consider” any requests. You:

·        must think carefully about every request and reply in writing as soon as possible, but not later than two (2) weeks.

·        do not have to agree to it if there is a good business reason for declining, however, employees do have a right to ask for flexible working arrangements.

·        can only say “no” for certain reasons – these reasons need to be stated if the application is declined.

Extracted from Employment New Zealand

Making a Request for Flexible Working Arrangements

  1. Requests for flexible working arrangements should be made to your Formal Leader with a copy to People and Culture.
  2. The request must:
  • Be in writing.
  • Have your name written on the request.
  • Be dated the day when your request was made.
  • Explain the working arrangement you are seeking, noting that flexible working arrangements are not normally approved as permanen, and whether you want the request to be considered to be permanent or for a fixed term/set period of time.
  • State the date that you want the new working arrangement to start and, if the new working arrangement is for a set period of time and state the date you want the arrangement to end.
  • Explain why you are requesting a flexible working arrangement, e.g., provide better care for your parent.
  • Explain, in your view, what changes (if any) the employer may need to make to their current business arrangements if the request is approved, e.g., possible changes to the way the team works together, changes to the physical set-up of the workplace, etc.

Other Things to Think About When Requesting a Flexible Working Arrangement

  • Keep in mind that a new working arrangement will normally not be approved as a permanent change unless otherwise requested and agreed.
  • If your request is approved, you cannot simply revert back to your previous work arrangements without agreement from your Formal Leader. You must make another request to your Formal Leader.
  • You may have to agree to a reduction in pay if you want your Formal Leader to agree to you working fewer hours.
  • If you have colleagues or friends who have arranged flexible working hours, ask them about their experiences.
  • How the team you work with will manage if your working arrangement is changed.
  • What effect changing your working arrangement will have on your job.
  • It may be useful to talk with your Formal Leader or People and Culture before you apply. This way you can explore what opportunities might be available.
  • You might be able to agree to have a flexible working arrangements trial before the time frame for the formal request starts running.
  • You might wish to discuss with your Formal Leader before you take parental leave that you are interested in requesting a flexible working arrangement on your return.
  • If you want the changes to start on your return from parental leave, you should make your request in good time.
  • If in doubt, you might want to discuss a flexible working arrangements trial with your Formal Leader or People and Culture.

 Refer also Employment New Zealand  

Receiving, Considering, and Making a Decision on Request for Flexible Working Arrangements

  1. People and Culture will acknowledge receipt of a request for a flexible working arrangement on behalf of the Formal Leader and follow up with the Formal Leader for a response to the request.
  2. The Formal Leader will consider the request, taking advice from People and Culture where necessary, and a decision will be made no later than two (2) weeks from receipt of the written request.
  3. The following considerations will be made:
    • Whether the request is consistent with the terms of your employment agreement.
    • That the request does not impact on the following recognised business grounds as listed in the Employment Relations Act 2000:
    • Inability to reorganise work among existing staff/team.
    • Inability to recruit additional staff.
    • Detrimental impact on quality.
    • Detrimental impact on performance.
    • Insufficiency of work during the period you propose to work.
    • Planned structural changes.
    • The burden of additional costs.
    • Detrimental effect on the ability to meet learner demand.
  4. Your Formal Leader will notify People and Culture who will write formally (email/letter) to notify you of the outcome of your request.
  5. If the request is declined the email/letter will include the reasons for refusal.
  6. If the request is accepted the email/letter will detail the variation to employment conditions.

Appeal Process

  1. If you feel that their request has not been dealt with to your satisfaction you can indicate you would like an informal discussion between yourself, People and Culture, and the Formal Leader to discuss the decision.
  2. If you are not satisfied following the discussion, you can appeal in writing to People, and Culture, outlining your reasons for the appeal and suggesting possible resolution options.  People, Culture, and Safety will respond in writing.
    1. If you are not satisfied with the written response from People, Culture and Safety you may ask for assistance from a third party.
    2. Each party may seek assistance from Employment New Zealand about making a formal complaint/solving the issue(s). Further information Employment New Zealand


Appendix 1: Policy for Staff Who Have Been Engaged to Only Work From Home
Appendix 2: Staff Request/Application for Flexible Working Arrangement