NHSScotland 'Once for Scotland' workforce policies - homeworking policy: 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). This consultation focuses on the homeworking policy.



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.

Homeworking Policy

NHSScotland recognises that the working environment has altered in last 18 months as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The refresh of the Homeworking Policy within the extant Supporting the Work-Life Balance PIN has been prioritised ahead of the other policies in this suite. It will sit alongside the other elements of the Supporting the Work-Life Balance PIN to be refreshed when the 'Once for Scotland' Workforce Policies Programme formally restarts in August 2021.

It is recognised that agile working, as an approach, is becoming more common place. The draft policy for consultation is intended to support employees and managers in considering and agreeing options for flexible work locations. This is not a COVID-19 specific policy. The policy has been refreshed and modernised to reflect the changed working environment. Changes proposed by the employer are covered by the Staff Governance Standard which require full engagement and involvement with affected staff. The NHS Board's Organisational Change Policy will apply where the employer seeks a change in work locations. This will ensure the protection of terms and conditions and no detriment to the employee.

Engagement Model

The emphasis is on moving to more dynamic and interactive engagement within a quicker process and with more direct feedback. The 4 week consultation period will run from 28 June to 26 July 2021 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). 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 Homeworking Policy. This 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)
  • 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 policy reflects our vision for NHSScotland workforce policies to be user-friendly and supportive, and updated to reflect changed working practices. The consultation also includes an equalities section to gather views on the potential impacts of this policy on protected characteristics equalities groups.


Email: Lynn.Hunter@gov.scot

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