NHS Scotland Once for Scotland workforce policies - work-life balance: consultation

The NHSScotland 'Once for Scotland' Workforce policies programme is designed to review and transform existing workforce policies (previously known as Partnership Information Network (PIN) Policies). This consultation focuses on the refreshed supporting the work-life balance suite of policies.

Background and responding to this consultation


The 'Once for Scotland' Workforce Policies Programme is designed to review and transform existing workforce policies (previously known as Partnership Information Network (PIN) Policies) in line with our vision:

'Once for Scotland Workforce policies will promote NHSScotland as a modern, exemplar employer; showcasing our core values, and promoting consistent employment policy and practice that supports the implementation of the Staff Governance Standard and effective recruitment and retention.'


The Scottish Workforce and Staff Governance (SWAG) Committee agreed that the following principles would govern the development work and future model:

1. The overriding purpose of future policy review exercises will be to create single, standardised policies that will be used consistently and seamlessly across NHSScotland.

2. Policies will be presented in a refreshed and reinvigorated format on a digital platform in a more user friendly and meaningful way, with staff and managers at the centre, whilst still being accessible to all groups of staff in alternative formats.

3. Policies will be developed and reviewed more quickly and efficiently, with accountability for delivery shared between employers, staffside and professional organisations and the Scottish Government.

4. There will be collective responsibility for each PIN Policy in terms of providing governance and leadership around future policy development or review.

5. Existing national PIN policies set good practice standards that have been negotiated and agreed in partnership and the starting presumption should be that these standards will apply at the core of future Once for Scotland policies.

6. Where a national PIN policy has been recently reviewed and is legally compliant, the expectation is that there should be minimal changes in relation to policy standards and therefore the focus is adopting that version to the Once for Scotland policy style.

7. Policies should be developed with robust engagement and take account of good practice locally and within other employers.

8. A new model for PIN policy review will be developed that improves the timeframe and efficiency of PIN policy review.

9. Once policies are agreed, they will be implemented consistently and fully across NHSScotland.

10. In future policies will be more focused on key standards and information and implemented across NHSScotland. The implementation will be supported by processes and procedures that will be nationally or locally agreed as appropriate.

Supporting the Work-Life Balance Policies

This consultation paper covers the suite of policies within the Supporting the Work-Life Balance PIN refresh:

  • Flexible Work Pattern Policy [covering previous Model Flexible Working Policy, Model Job-share Policy, Model Reduced Working Year Policy and Model Annualised Hours Policy]
  • Retirement Policy [incorporating the NHSScotland Interim National Arrangement on Retire and Return]
  • Career Break Policy
  • Special Leave Policy
  • Maternity Policy [previously known as the Model Maternity Leave Policy]
  • New Parent Support Policy [previously known as the Maternity Support (Paternity) Leave Policy]
  • Shared Maternity and Shared Adoption Policy [previously known as the Model Shared Parental Leave Policy]
  • Parental Leave Policy
  • Breastfeeding Policy
  • Adoption, Fostering and Kinship Policy [previously known as the Model Adoption Leave and Fostering Policy]

The above 10 policies within the consultation accompany the Flexible Work Location Policy. The refresh of the Model Homeworking Policy within the extant Supporting the Work-Life Balance PIN was prioritised ahead of the other policies in this suite. Renamed the Flexible Work Location Policy, the policy was approved but not implemented in autumn 2021. Timescales for policy implementation are dependent on an agreed terms and conditions position. This is subject to UK Staff Council discussions.

The NHSScotland Interim National Arrangement on Retire and Return was published on 30 August 2022. The implemented arrangement, which has full operational status and authority, has been incorporated in the refreshed Retirement Policy.

Engagement Model

The emphasis is on moving to more dynamic and interactive engagement within a quicker process and with more direct feedback. The one month consultation period will run from 26 October to 25 November 2022 inclusive with necessary flexibility to ensure maximum feedback. The consultation follows the regional engagement events pre-policy (January 2020) and mid-policy development (March 2020). Delegates were invited to participate in a follow up survey in the summer of 2021. This allowed delegates to reflect on what had been said at the mid-policy development engagement events and provide an opportunity to add any new perspectives.

The approach, agreed by the Scottish Workforce and Staff Governance (SWAG) Committee, minimises the need for the traditional 2-3 month formal consultation process. The consultation reflects this new model of engagement, and recognises that the extant PIN policies have already been agreed in partnership.

What is included within the consultation?

The consultation focuses on the Supporting the Work Life Balance suite of policies. Each policy includes the following sections:

  • Aim
  • Scope (Who it applies to and What can be raised under the policy)
  • Definitions
  • Roles and responsibilities (specific to the policy and in addition to standard roles and responsibilities which underpin all NHSScotland workforce policies)
  • Procedure

The policy references supporting documents, each with a descriptor on what this entails, for your consideration.

Please note: supporting documents are not part of the consultation. These will be drafted following the consultation when responses have been analysed and the policy is developed in a final draft.

Standard sections that apply to all policies, for example, Principles and Values, Employee Support, Roles and Responsibilities are available on the NHSScotland Workforce Policies website.

The questions set out in the consultation seek to understand if the refreshed policies reflect our vision for NHSScotland workforce policies, and to identify any gaps in the policies or proposed supporting documents. The consultation also includes an equalities section to gather views on the potential impacts of each policy on protected characteristics equalities groups.

Responding to this Consultation

We are inviting responses to this consultation by Friday 25 November 2022.

Please respond to this consultation using the Scottish Government's consultation hub. Access and respond to this consultation online. You can save and return to your responses while the consultation is still open. Please ensure that consultation responses are submitted before the closing date of Friday 25 November 2022.

If you are unable to respond using our consultation hub, please complete and return the Respondent Information Form to:

'Once for Scotland' Workforce Policies Programme
Scottish Government
GR, Workforce Practice Unit, Health Workforce Directorate
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

Handling your response

If you respond using the consultation hub, you will be directed to the About You page before submitting your response. Please indicate how you wish your response to be handled and, in particular, whether you are content for your response to be published. If you ask for your response not to be published, we will regard it as confidential, and we will treat it accordingly.

All respondents should be aware that the Scottish Government is subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 and would therefore have to consider any request made to it under the Act for information relating to responses made to this consultation exercise.

If you are unable to respond via the consultation hub, please complete and return the Respondent Information Form included in this document.

To find out how we handle your personal data, please see our privacy policy.

Next steps in the process

Where respondents have given permission for their response to be made public, and after we have checked that they contain no potentially defamatory material, responses will be made available to the public on the consultation hub. If you use the consultation hub to respond, you will receive a copy of your response via email.

Following the closing date, all responses will be analysed and considered along with any other available evidence to help us. Responses may be published where we have been given permission to do so.

Comments and complaints

If you have any comments about how this consultation exercise has been conducted, please send them to the contact address above or at Lynn.Hunter@gov.scot

Scottish Government consultation process

Consultation is an essential part of the policymaking process. It gives us the opportunity to consider your opinion and expertise on a proposed area of work.

You can find all our consultations online on the consultation hub. Each consultation details the issues under consideration, as well as a way for you to give us your views, either online, by email or by post.

Responses will be analysed and used as part of the decision making process, along with a range of other available information and evidence. This will enable us to finalise the NHSScotland Workforce Policies for Scottish Workforce & Staff Governance (SWAG) Committee approval and Cabinet Secretary agreement.

While details of particular circumstances described in a response to a consultation exercise may usefully inform the policy process, consultation exercises cannot address individual concerns and comments, which should be directed to the relevant public body.


Email: Lynn.Hunter@gov.scot

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