New flexible working provisions were published in England and Wales in September 2021 (and in Northern Ireland in April 2022), including a right to request flexible working from day one of employment, no limit on the number of requests and an escalation stage to explore all options.
Whilst health trade unions welcomed the implementation of these provisions there are still numerous issues being raised to SoR representatives and regional officers in relation to flexible working requests.
With many departments and hospitals having significant workforce challenges, this is not surprising. Flexible working should be utilised as a mechanism to retain and recruit staff in these difficult times.
It is important that flexible working policies are indeed flexible and can adapt to family needs and changing circumstances of employees.
The NHS Staff Council Equality, Diversity and Inclusion group (EDIG) has also had an increasing number of queries from both NHS staff who are growing their families or have new caring responsibilities and also from employers looking to support staff.
SoR Head of Industrial Relations Leandre Archer has recently joined the EDIG group and wants to raise awareness of the flexible working provisions and gather information from members where there are good policies and practices occurring in trusts or boards across the UK.
A recent NHS Employers blog post on 'Adoption, kinship and childcare – how can we better support our workforce?' provides further resources and information for NHS staff.
EDIG wants to hear from NHS staff, managers and trade union representatives who have lived experience, are part of peer support groups and have agreed great local policies, so we can hear good practice and, most importantly, share and encourage it. This could be how time off is arranged, training for managers to support staff, forums and networks for peer support.
Please share this good practice by emailing [email protected].