New flexible working rules good for staff and employers says RCM

By New flexible working rules good for staff and employers says RCM on 24 September 2021 Employment On Employment Midwifery Midwives MSWs - Maternity Support Workers Flexible Working

New flexible working rights will be good for staff and employers alike, say the Royal College of Midwives (RCM). This comes as new rules are introduced to allow NHS employees in England to request flexible working from their first day of employment.

To support those who might want to take advantage of the opportunity, the RCM is publishing guidance with Maternity Action on this for its midwife and maternity support worker members today. The new rules apply to all NHS staff in England and Wales employed under Agenda for Change including midwives, maternity support workers, nurses, and physiotherapists.

Alice Sorby, the RCM’s Employment Relations Advisor and RCM lead on the changes said: “This is a significant step for our members and for the NHS. I hope it heralds much more flexibility for those who need work to fit better around their lives, including caring responsibilities and continuing education. Anyone can ask to work flexibly, and their requests must be considered. While we encourage people to try and secure a flexible working arrangement more informally with their line manager, if that is proving difficult, this guidance will help members go through the process of putting in a formal request.

“It’s important to remember that this process is a negotiation and both sides will need to show some give and take, be flexible around their own situations, and come to an agreement that suits each and the needs of the service.”

The guidance sets out the regulations around flexible working, how to go about applying for it, and steps to take if facing problems or obstacles, including tips to counter common employer objections. There are also several possible scenarios that staff, and employers might face, outlined with possible courses of action to solve them.

Ros Bragg, Director of Maternity Action said: “On our advice lines, we regularly hear from women who are struggling to negotiate the flexible working they need to balance work and caring for their family.  We are delighted to work with the RCM to better support midwives to resolve these requests.” 

Alice Sorby added, “This is a positive development. Showing a genuine willingness to support staff to move to more flexible working will help trusts retain staff who may otherwise leave, and recruit staff attracted by the idea and possibility of greater flexibility. It could, and should, work for employers and employees to the benefit of the women, babies and families they care for.”


To contact the RCM Media Office call 020 7312 3456, or email [email protected]

Notes to editor

The RCM guidance on flexible working can be read at Publications (

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) is the only trade union and professional association dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team. We provide workplace advice and support, professional and clinical guidance, and information, and learning opportunities with our broad range of events, conferences, and online resources. For more information visit the RCM website.

Maternity Action is the UK’s maternity rights charity dedicated to promoting, protecting and enhancing the rights of all pregnant women, new mothers and their families to employment, social security and health care.

To find out more about Maternity Action visit their website.