Flexible working to support staff with the rising cost of living
As part of the NHS People Plan, the NHS People Promise sets out a series of commitments, one of which is we work flexibly:
“We do not have to sacrifice our family, our friends or our interests for work.”
This ambition is to give people greater choice over their working patterns, helping them to achieve a better work-life balance, and support them with the increased cost of living. To ensure the NHS remains an employer of choice and can attract talent in a competitive job market, more action is needed to increase the uptake of flexible working.
Advice and recommendations for employers
- Ensure staff are aware of the section 33 guidance in the NHS terms and conditions handbook, which outlines staff are entitled to make a flexible working request from day one of employment.
- Highlight the different ways flexible working can be implemented, flexible working doesn’t always equate to less hours and it can benefit the employer in many different ways. Read how Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust used compressed hours to allow for clinics to open earlier in the morning and later in the evening.
- Introduce flexible working conversations into wellbeing conversations with staff. Encourage staff to discuss the flexible working options available to them, and support managers to lead a flexible team.
Emerging practice and case studies
Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust introduced an agile working policy and has set up a working group to explore new ways of flexible working.
Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust has supported community nurses to start and finish their work from home, rather than trust bases. They are also supporting managers to have compassionate conversations with staff around short-term flexible working requests.
Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust health and wellbeing team has created a wellbeing wheel as a tool for staff and line managers to have conversations about their wellbeing, with one the questions focusing specifically on flexibility and money and finance.
King's College Hospital has looked into areas of the trust that offers flexible work well as well as areas and departments that do not, this includes both clinical and non-clinical areas.
The organisation has surveyed two managers from each area to find out the barriers and blockers as well as good practice already within the trust.
The current blockers include the e-roster system which does not make flexible working possible for staff. The results also found that clinical staff have less opportunities for flexible working than non-clinical staff. The trust is working on the next steps in offering flexible working across the whole trust.
Further resources and additional tools
- Flexible working guides for line managers and staff have been created in collaboration with NHS England, NHS Staff Council and Timewise to support staff and line managers to work flexibly.
- Read our flexible working enablers for change to support employers to embed flexible working into the workforce.
- Flexible working common myths have been developed by NHS Staff Council to bust some of the common myths associated with flexible working.
- Our guide on how to embed flexible working for nurses signposts to the latest research and thinking concerning flexible working, highlights what nurses look for in a flexible role, and identifies a number of key enablers to successfully embedding a culture of flexible working.