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Strengthen the entitlement to flexible working (in the NHS)

We will strengthen the entitlement to flexible working to help those with caring responsibilities for young children or older relatives.

Our Verdict

The right to request flexible working was introduced in the Employment Act 2002 and extended to all employees in 2014 under the Children and Families Act. We are taking the phrase “strengthen the entitlement” to mean the government intends to take steps to make it easier for NHS employees to exercise their existing right to request flexible working.

So far, multiple members of this government (including the Prime Minister) have emphasised the importance of flexible working for NHS staff in their speeches. In October 2017, the then Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt promised an app to enable NHS workers to choose shifts more flexibly and at a shorter notice, and get paid more quickly too. Trial versions of that app were rolled out to 15 pilot NHS trusts in May 2018.

The NHS Long Term Plan, published in January 2019, is light on mentions of flexible working but does promise action to:

“support flexible working, including clarity on the proportion of roles to be advertised as flexible; and the ability to express preferences about shifts further in advance enabled by e-rostering technology introduced over the next year and associated applications”

So this pledge is ‘in progress’. We’ll keep tracking the app trials, and keep an eye out for other NHS flexible working developments. Follow this policy to stay up to date.

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