New flexible working guidelines welcomed by staff groups

The Royal College of Midwives, along with other unions and staff organisations, have called for greater working flexibility to help retain the current number of midwives.

Its mission is to help attract more people into the profession through the introduction of new flexible working measures, which are planned to be included in the NHS staff handbook in September. 

NHS staff under the new plans, will have the option of flexible working from their first day in the job, previously staff had to work over a 6-month period, to be eligible for flexible working. The guidelines will be available across England, Scotland and Wales. 

The news comes as NHS England announced new flexible working measures are set to come into force on the 13th September. Staff can make as many requests as possible for flexible work arrangements, where previously they could only make one request a year.

RCN Acting General Secretary & Chief Executive Pat Cullen said: “We are proud to have worked with NHS Staff Council partners in securing this positive outcome for nursing staff. However, the right to request flexible working is just the first step in a major culture change necessary to ensure frontline staff, required to work 24/7, can also work flexibly.  

 “The pandemic has shown just how important it is to make sure nursing staff are not restricted to rigid shifts and long hours. They too must be given the time they need to rest and recover as they begin to emerge from the efforts of the last 18 months.” 

Prerana Issar, chief people officer at NHSE, added: “Our staff have had a year like no other and the NHS has been there to support them too – from a mental health hotline and text service, direct support at work through mental health and wellbeing hubs, as well as flexible working options so that where possible, colleagues can work shifts that suit their busy lives. 

“We’re delighted to be working alongside the NHS staff council to further embed flexible working for our staff that will not only benefit our existing colleagues, but will also be vital in helping us to attract more people and grow our workforce in even more diverse, inclusive ways.” 

The King’s Fund will host a free online seminar in partnership with NHSE to give extra information on flexible working culture on the 15th of July and will discuss the principles NHSE will use moving forward to foster a greater working culture.  

In line with the recent changes, the government has also promised a review into flexible working culture considering the pandemic.