We have seen a lot of changes during the COVID-19 pandemic, many of which have had a positive impact on flexibility at work, supporting our staff wellbeing and have enabled staff to try new ways of working.

We have listened to staff feedback and reviewed and improved our flexible working arrangements to further support a healthy work-life balance for our staff and their families.

Easier access and use of technology including improvements to our WIFI infrastructure has ensured staff can successfully work in a more flexible and agile way – whether from home, participating in e-meetings, or increasing use of apps or on-line links to access systems (e.g. Employee Online/Allocate or ESR) and information.

Staff have proactively demonstrated their desire to use technology and embrace digital to manage their working arrangements and hours, deliver service needs and access learning and education.

There are many flexible working options available and we are positively encouraging staff to initiate discussion with line managers or supervisor to explore how you might work differently. We know service needs are the priority but working differently might also have a positive impact on your team and colleagues and the way in which you deliver your service.

  • The options include:Informally having the flexibility to finish early or start a bit later on occasions
  • Reducing your working hours to less than full time with variable hours
  • Work from home or agilely from other sites or locations
  • Discussing with your line manager about creative ways you can fulfill your role whilst working in a different way
  • Taking reasonable time off to attend medical appointments
  • Requesting compassionate and/or bereavement leave for ‘loved ones’.
  • Taking a career break, whether you want to travel the world or care for a dependant person

There are benefits for everyone in doing this. As an employer it helps us to recruit – and retain – the best people and can also bring huge reward in terms of engagement and productivity.

It’s also so much more than reducing hours or occasionally making changes to a role. It’s about how we can support staff through bereavement, changes in family circumstances, health issues, stress, career breaks, job sharing or looking at different ways of working.
Of course our patients come first and there will always be a pressure of balancing individuals’ needs with keeping services running.

What we’re asking for is leaders, managers and teams to be open to flexible working so we can offer a fair and consistent approach right across the organisation.

Flexible working requests

…arent just about reducing working hours! There are other options available such as changes to a working pattern, compressed hours, working days and ‘variable time working’ where staff can reduce working hours for a specific period. We know that flexible working can help recruit and retain staff who otherwise might leave, as well as supporting service continuity.

Flexible retirement

This is a really valuable option for both staff and the Trust. For staff it provides the opportunity to work differently – perhaps working fewer hours, their working pattern or nature of their work. The NHS Pension Scheme has become more flexible to support staff, and for the Trust it means that we retain some key skills and experience as well as assisting in our succession planning to support an orderly transition or handover.

Job share

… is normally where two employees share a single full-time post and can be a useful option to provide a good work/life flow. This can also help to increase productivity and create positive working relationships to benefit our services.

Career breaks

The Trust offers career breaks for staff who may wish to seek a longer term break from their current role. Some examples where career breaks can be requested include:

  • childcare commitments
  • care of a dependent person
  • further relevant education and/or training
  • relevant work abroad and charitable work that could broaden experience
  • preparation for retirement

Annualised/term-time hours

This is an option available for staff who may wish to take extended unpaid leave to coincide with school holidays. Annual salary is paid monthly in twelve equal amounts on a pro rata basis. With growing child-care costs this option can provide supportive flexibility to working parents who may be struggling to balance work and family life.

Staff bank

The Trust’s staff bank service provides options to work shifts on an as-and-when basis providing increased flexibility. Many of our staff are also registered as bank workers as it provides additional income and experience in different working environments. Short term and long term placements are also available which helps to support substantive staffing shortages and reduces reliance on agency working.

Communication

Communication is key to getting flexibility at work right. It’s those informal conversations and agreements which make the most difference to our daily lives. Being able to change how we work our hours to make sure we can pick up the kids from school or even just being able to attend our medical appointment without worrying about how long it is taking. We encourage all staff to have positive conversations to enable and support flexible working – and feel free to think creatively about options that may work.

Agile working

Our Agile Working Policy empowers staff to work with greater flexibility.

The policy offers guidance around working practice including homeworking, teleworking and working from an alternative site.

Agile working supports a more flexible approach to work and can also provide other benefits also offering benefits such as potential cost reduction through reduced travel time/costs (i.e. homeworking on occasions of adverse weather and major travel disruption) as well as potential improvements in staff wellbeing, morale and productivity.

A family celebrating

Other options

As well as all of the flexible working options you have already seen, we offer a whole lot more.

Special leave – We have a range of special leave entitlements to support staff when required. Some of them are outlined on this page – for everything else, check out our special leave policy.

Compassionate leave – Staff are able to take up to five days paid compassionate leave to come to terms with a serious illness or injury involving a loved one, a serious personal relationship problem or where an employee has carer responsibilities.

Bereavement leave – Staff are able to take up to five days paid compassionate leave if they have suffered a bereavement of a relative or loved one, or wish to be with a relative at end of life.

Child bereavement Leave – Staff are entitled to up to two weeks occupational child bereavement pay at any point up to 56 weeks following the death of their child.

A bereaved parent is anyone who had responsibility as one of the primary carers for a child who is now deceased. This includes adoptive parents, legal guardians, individuals who are fostering to adopt. This may also include grandparents who had caring responsibilities for a child, or instances where someone other than the biological parent is the primary carer (this could be the case where the parents of a child have separated).

Medical appointments – Staff are able to take a reasonable time off for appointments as agreed with their line manager. This can include doctors, dentist, hospital and screening appointments. There is no longer a defined time period, this is at your manager’s discretion.