Frequently Asked Questions

I have assumed supervision of a group of employees who currently have a diverse range of flexible work arrangements. I may need to change these or I may not – but first I need to get handle on them. Where do I begin?

Refer to Evaluating, Managing and Measuring Flexible Work Arrangements for general practices and guidelines. You will want to start by documenting what work arrangements are currently in place – a chart or spreadsheet showing each person’s schedule can help you see where there may be gaps as well as logical parameters for core hours, staff meetings, and so on. Compare what’s in place to your operational principles and current and projected business needs. Is there any overlap in the current set of work arrangements?

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What role should an employee’s reason for proposing a flexible work arrangement play in whether or not I grant a proposal?

Specific procedures apply if the employee’s proposal is based on his/her own health condition or disability or that of a family member; in such cases, you should immediately contact your local HR representative for guidance.

Employees are not required to give a reason when submitting flexible work arrangement proposals. A supervisor should evaluate each proposal on the business case, and should not deny a proposal based on an employee’s reason (or perceived lack of reason). Sometimes an employee may not wish to do so, especially if private family issues are the reason.

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Can I change my FWA if it’s not working out for me?

A new FWA should be reviewed in the first 30 days to ensure it is effectively meeting the needs of the employee and the business. To propose a different flexible work arrangement at any time (e.g., change from compressed work week to job sharing), a new written proposal should be submitted to your manager for consideration. A written proposal should also be given to your manager if you would like a return to your previous work schedule—but remember that this is not always possible.

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Is there a limit to the number of people in one area who can submit proposals?

While each FWA proposal should be reviewed on its own merits, a manager should first assess the overall needs of the department or unit as the foundation for approving a flexible work arrangement. Since it is important to provide coverage to meet the demands of the office, it may be useful to establish a process for handling multiple proposals before any FWA is implemented. Often teams can work together to find alternatives that will work for the whole group.

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What if my supervisor says “no” to my proposal?

The University is not obligated to approve flexible work arrangements for any employee (setting aside any obligations under the ADA or FMLA). Each proposal should be considered on its own merits. Make sure you clearly understand the reason(s) your manager gave for not approving your proposal. In some cases, it may be useful to work with one of the University’s resources to help managers and employees refine flexible work arrangements for their mutual benefit. These include:

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Do I have to give a reason for wanting a flexible work arrangement?

No. Proposals for flexible work arrangements should be evaluated on how business needs will be met and how the work will get done, as well as on an employee’s likelihood of success with the arrangement, based on his or her recent past performance. Managers should not evaluate a flexible work arrangement based on an employee’s reason for proposing it.

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I proposed a flexible schedule previously and was turned down. May I try again?

First consider why your proposal was denied. If you don’t fully understand the reason your proposal was denied, ask your manager to clarify the business or performance reasons. Then do some research and determine if you can build a case for an alternative that might work for your particular situation. If at this point you believe that your proposal or circumstances are different enough, then you might ask your supervisor/manager to consider your new proposal and to discuss other alternatives.

Can any employee propose a flexible work arrangement?

Any employee may submit a proposal for a flexible work arrangement (FWA) to his or her manager.

Under Harvard’s guidelines, managers should give consideration to all proposals to ensure a fair process for all employees. Remember—“fair” does not equal “same”. The process should be consistent to ensure equity between employees, but each outcome will be based on the particular circumstances of the proposal, the job and the person, with approval based on a proposal that supports the needs of both the University and the individual.

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How many employment applications may I submit?

Harvard has a limit of 25 applications within a 30-day rolling period. If you try and apply to a 26th job within 30 days, you will receive an error message.

We encourage all applicants to carefully review each position and job description prior to submitting an application.