Headlines: November 15th, 2000

New research suggests the civil service is becoming a more flexible employer. ‘Flexi-Exec: case studies of senior staff working reduced hours’, has been prepared by New Ways to Work, a national work life balance charity.It reviews the reality of work life balance at senior levels in the public and private sector, and finds that civil service staff working reduced hours at senior level are successful, generally satisfied with their arrangements and are as committed as their full-time colleagues.

Recently gathered figures would appear to back up this picture of increased flexibility. 3.2% of the senior civil service now work part time, compared to 0.4% in 1984 and a total of 59,000 civil servants are part timers.

However the experience of those interviewed who have won good working arrangements appears at odds with another recent survey which indicated that many civil servants felt that the modernisation process sweeping government was bypassing their working practices.

A CIPD report ‘The Psychological Contract in the Public Sector’, indicated that civil servants generally felt not enough flexible working was available.

The Cabinet Office, in partnership with the Council of Civil Service Unions, will be examining the New Ways to Work findings, and addressing the practical issues affecting staff who work reducedhours, including ensuring that workload is reduced to match reduced hours, that development and training isn’t neglected, and being flexible about flexibility – embracing new types of working arrangement.