New flexible working rights for NHS staff

The NHS Staff Council has agreed new flexible working arrangements, which will become part of the NHS contract from 13 September.

The CSP agreed the new provisions with other healthcare trade unions and NHS employers. These will go significantly further than the current NHS contract, and statutory rights to requesting flexible working.

The new contract will give NHS staff the right to make:

  • ‘day one’ requests for flexible working when starting with a new employer, removing the six month qualifying period required by law
  • an unlimited number of requests for flexible working over the course of the year
  • flexible working  requests without providing justifications or specific reasons.

These contractual changes will cover NHS staff in England and Wales, with similar initiatives expected in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The new agreement further requires NHS employers to work with trade unions and agree a standard approach for staff to lodge appeals following unsuccessful requests.  NHS trusts will also be expected to subject their flexible working policies to an equality impact assessment, and collect and publish data relating to the flexible working requests made by staff.

The CSP worked with other trade unions and NHS employers through the NHS Staff Council to agree this new approach to flexible working, which has been introduced to improve the quality of working life in the NHS and improve staff retention.  

The full statement, including new arrangements for supporting carers working in the NHS, is available. The CSP is now working with other staff-side unions to develop accompanying guidance for NHS employees and employers, which will accompany the new contract.

Claire Sullivan, CSP director of Employment Relations and Union Services, says:

This agreement marks a significant step in the right direction.  Flexible working aids recruitment and retention, improves productivity and stress and makes staff feel valued and motivated.

'However, for this agreement to have a real impact, NHS employers need to work closely in partnership with trade unions to create a workplace culture where flexible working is widely available and the benefits of it for all fully understood.'

The CSP’s Building A Better Balance resource can be used to raise awareness about the benefits of flexible working for workers, services and patients. 

The toolkit for CSP stewards, members and physiotherapy service mangers will be updated later this year to reflect the new contract.

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