Headlines: February 24th, 2000

The campaign to change traditional working patterns and introduce flexibility and family friendly practices is starting to bite. Margaret Jay, Minister for Women, has been named as the campaign driver and the NHS has published a Flexible Working Toolkit that can be used by employers in the public and private sectors.Margaret Jay’s role will be to ensure that all employers are aware of the benefits of flexible, part time and home working. She has a particular responsibility to ensure that the 5 million public service workers have greater access to the various types of imaginative working practices that are already in operation across the sector.

The NHS, with problems of recruitment and retention, has been at the forefront of flexible working. With staggered working hours, flexible rotas, job shares, self rostering and childcare support schemes, it has succeeded in helping staff to balance home and work life. The flexible approach has been largely responsible for encouraging over 5000 former nurses to return to the profession. This expertise in flexible working has been distilled into a toolkit containing booklets, examples of good practice and case studies. It has been designed for by use by NHS managers but it can be adapted for use outside healthcare across the public and private sectors.