Information

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.


1. Flexible Work Pattern Policy

1.1. Aim

1.1.1. To provide a framework to support:

  • employees when considering and requesting options for a flexible work pattern
  • managers when considering, agreeing or proposing options for a flexible work pattern

1.2. Scope

1.2.1. This policy applies to all employees.

1.2.2. If the arrangement is about a change to work location, please refer to the Flexible Work Location Policy.

1.2.3. This policy complies with current legislation and meets the aims of the Public Sector Equality Duty of the Equality Act 2010.

1.3. Definitions

1.3.1. Examples of flexible work patterns include:

1.3.2. Annualised hours is where contracted hours are calculated as a total number of hours over the year instead of a weekly number of hours. The employee's working pattern may consist of both fixed and unallocated shifts. With reasonable notice, the employer can use unallocated shifts for surges in demand.

1.3.3. Compressed hours is a working pattern where employees complete their contracted hours within fewer working days. For example, they may work 37.5 hours over 4 days instead of 5 days.

1.3.4. Flexi-time is a system where employees can choose when they work, subject to working an agreed number of hours over a specified reference period. Employees may have a core period of the day when they must be at work. It allows employees to carry over a debit or credit of hours between reference periods.

1.3.5. Job-sharing is a form of part-time working where 2 or more people share the responsibility for a job in a structured way.

1.3.6. Part-time is where an employee is contracted to work less than the recognised full-time hours.

1.3.7. A reduced working year is a work pattern with agreed periods when the employee does not work. The salary of the post is reduced proportionately to the hours worked. An example of a reduced working year is a term-time contract.

1.3.8. Self-rostering is an arrangement where team members schedule their shifts while maintaining agreed service levels.

1.3.9. Voluntary reduced working hours allows employees to request a reduction in their contracted hours for a temporary period.

1.3.10. This list is not exhaustive.

1.4. Roles and responsibilities

1.4.1. There is a range of standard expectations which underpin all policies. Read more about standard roles and responsibilities. In addition, the following specific responsibilities apply to this policy.

1.4.2. Manager

1.4.3. The manager should:

  • apply the Flexible Work Pattern Policy fairly and consistently
  • consider all applications and make sure they do not unreasonably refuse an employee request
  • make sure requests for a flexible work pattern are responded to promptly and, if declined, provide reasons for refusal
  • assess roles and duties to establish suitability for flexible working in response to an employee request
  • plan for effective team working
  • complete all appropriate contractual documentation if a change is agreed
  • update appropriate systems to reflect the new work pattern
  • review working arrangements with the employee regularly, at least once per year, or if circumstances change

1.4.4. Employee

1.4.5. The employee should:

  • consider working arrangements that balance their own needs with the needs of colleagues and the service
  • initiate a review of working arrangements if circumstances change
  • participate in a regular review of working arrangements

1.5. Procedure

1.5.1. Flexible work pattern arrangements can be temporary or permanent. They offer flexibility around how and when an employee carries out their role.

1.5.2. These working arrangements must balance the needs of the individual and their role with the following organisational factors:

  • patient or service user experience
  • staff experience
  • service delivery and service capacity

1.5.3. When considering the situations in which a flexible work pattern may be suitable, please refer to the following:

  • Guide for managers [guide to help managers use and understand the Flexible Work Pattern Policy]
  • Guide for employees [guide to help employees use and understand the Flexible Work Pattern Policy]

1.5.4. Request by employee

1.5.5. The procedure for flexible work patterns is outlined in the Flexible Work Pattern Policy flowchart. [visual and text alternative flowcharts outlining the key steps in the Flexible Work Pattern Policy]

1.5.6. Employees who request flexible work pattern arrangements should discuss them with their manager in the first instance.

1.5.7. Discussions should consider the needs of the service and the health, safety, and wellbeing of the employee. The issues that must be considered by both parties are outlined in the guides for managers and employees.

1.5.8. The discussions should also consider the parts of the job that:

  • can be done with an alternative work pattern
  • must be done during standard hours for that service

1.5.9. The employee should complete:

  • Flexible work pattern application form
  • if the request includes home as a work location, the employee must also complete a Health, safety, and wellbeing self-assessment [self-assessment form to identify and assess risks to home or hybrid working arrangements]

1.5.10. Once completed, the employee should send both forms to their manager.

1.5.11. The manager must acknowledge the employee's request within 7 calendar days. They should then arrange a meeting to discuss it with the employee within 28 calendar days. If necessary and agreed by all parties, the manager can extend the time.

1.5.12. Agreement

1.5.13. The employee will be entitled to all terms and conditions relevant to the flexible work pattern agreement. Leave entitlement will change to reflect contracted hours.

1.5.14. Under this policy, when the manager and employee agree to a change, both parties should sign a Flexible work pattern agreement. [template for written agreement for flexible work pattern to be agreed and signed by both parties]

1.5.15. Once the manager agrees the employee's flexible work pattern proposal, the written agreement should confirm their hours and working pattern. It should also confirm if this is a temporary or permanent change. If this is a permanent change, the employee's terms of employment will be permanently varied. The employee will have no automatic right to revert to their previous working arrangements.

1.5.16. Review

1.5.17. The manager and employee should review working arrangements at least once a year. It could form part of the job planning process for medical and dental staff. For all other employees, it could form part of the appraisal process.

1.5.18. An employee or manager can request a review at any point. A review should also take place where circumstances or requirements change.

1.5.19. Refusal of the request

1.5.20. An employee's request for a flexible work pattern should be supported where possible. A manager should only refuse a request for valid service or organisational reasons where one or more of the following apply:

  • adverse impact on service delivery and quality
  • adverse impact on work colleagues
  • health, safety, and wellbeing considerations

1.5.21. A manager may decide to refuse the employee's request. If so, their decision, including the reasons for refusal, should be confirmed in writing within 7 calendar days. More detail is provided in the following documents:

  • Guide for managers [guide to help managers use and understand the Flexible Work Pattern Policy]
  • Guide for employees [guide to help employees use and understand the Flexible Work Pattern Policy]

1.5.22. Appeal process

1.5.23. The employee will have a right to appeal within 14 calendar days against the decision to refuse the request. When exercising this right, the employee must identify the reason for their appeal.

1.5.24. The appeal panel Chair, in accordance with the scheme of delegation, will be responsible for identifying membership of the appeal hearing panel.

1.5.25. The appeal panel Chair will also inform all parties of the arrangements in writing no later than 14 calendar days before the hearing.

1.5.26. Outcome

1.5.27. Following the appeal hearing, the Chair will write to all relevant parties within 7 calendar days to confirm the outcome. The letter should include the rationale behind any decision regarding the employee's grounds for appeal.

1.5.28. The outcome of the appeal will be final for this application.

1.5.29. Related policies:

  • Flexible Work Location

1.6. Supporting documentation

It is proposed that the supporting documents listed below will be developed to support the policy. 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.

Employee guide

Descriptor: guide to help employees use and understand the Flexible Work Pattern Policy. This will include the areas that must be considered by all parties as part of a flexible work pattern review or as part of a request.

Manager guide

Descriptor: guide to help managers use and understand the Flexible Work Pattern Policy. This will include the areas that must be considered by all parties as part of a flexible work pattern review or as part of a request.

Flexible work pattern policy flowchart

Descriptor: visual and text alternative flowcharts outlining the key steps in the Flexible Work Pattern Policy.

Flexible work pattern application form

Descriptor: form to request a change in work pattern (note this is the same document used for flexible work location requests).

Flexible work pattern agreement

Descriptor: template for written agreement for flexible work pattern to be agreed and signed by both parties (note this is the same document used for flexible work location requests).

Calculation tools

Descriptor: tools to support the calculation of hours, for example, on term-time working.

1.7. Consultation questions

We are inviting responses to this consultation using the Scottish Government's consultation hub. The following questions are set.

In your response, all questions have the option to answer yes or no. You are invited to provide further comment in a free text box. If you wish to make specific reference to a section of the policy, please quote the relevant numbered line in this consultation document.

1. Do you feel there are any gaps in the policy?

2. Do you feel there are any gaps in the proposed list of supporting documents?

3. Do you have any other comments to make on the policy?

4. Do you have any views on the potential impacts of this policy on equalities groups?

It is against the law to discriminate against someone because of: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation. These are protected characteristics under the Equality Act, 2010.

Contact

Email: Lynn.Hunter@gov.scot

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