Flexible working updates come on stream

By Colin Beesley on 15 September 2021 NHS Staff NHS Midwives MSWs - Maternity Support Workers Pay and Agenda For Change Flexible Working

More flexible working for midwives and maternity support workers (MSWs) is crucial to ensuring maternity services retain and recruit staff said the Royal College of Midwives (RCM). It comes as improved flexible working Agenda for Change Handbook provisions come into effect this week.

NHS employees now have a right to request flexible working from day one of employment and employers must consider requests no matter what reason is being given for wanting to work flexibly.

“There are great benefits to this for employers and employees: it’s a win, win for both. We hope employers will find it easier to recruit and retain staff, and employees will find a flexible working pattern that fits into their lives. This really is an important and major milestone for NHS workers and one that should make working for the NHS more attractive to those thinking about it, and hopefully encourages others to stay,” said RCM Employment Relations Advisor Alice Sorby. “We know that many people leave because of the lack of flexibility in their jobs, with issues such as childcare or carer-responsibilities that conflict with the sometimes rigid NHS work practices. This goes some way to help to solve that problem.”

Along with the handbook there is also guidance for staff and line managers to take them through the process and guidance for local JNCs to support the updating of policies on this. Each employer will also be required to have a centralised overseeing process for individuals to appeal to if they encounter problems or have been refused a flexible working request.

“We really hope that this heralds a much more tolerant and open attitude to flexible working and that employers will embrace this and promote it right at the recruitment stage, and in ongoing processes such as one-to-ones, team discussions and appraisals, said Alice.  “The RCM, its officers and its activists will be working hard with employers to ensure this process goes as smoothly as possible, and to get this up and running and working for staff and midwives and maternity support workers.”

The RCM will be publishing its own guidance around this for members and is also holding a webinar around this issue, both happening on 24 September.

To see the updated provisions around flexible working visit  NHS-Staff-Council-joint-statement-June21.pdf (nhsemployers.org).