Headlines: August 13th, 2002

The TUC is applauding a partnership experiment between the Inland Revenue and the public and commercial services union PCS which attempts to encourage a work-life balance.Inland Revenue employees in the South East of England are experimenting with their working patterns in an effort to strike a more satisfying work-life balance whilst responding to the needs of the service.

‘OurTime’ involves PCS members, Inland Revenue management, human resources’ representatives and a TUC project director working in partnership. All participants are at three pilot centres – Brighton, Worthing and Lewes – are volunteers.

While the opportunity has not suited everybody, some individuals who have participated in the project feel that the changes have brought them real benefits.

One worker volunteered to work on Saturdays in order to build up credits so that she could take extra time off over the school summer holidays.

Others are trying the ‘compressed working fortnight’. This involves working 74 hours in nine days leaving the 10th day free. Or to put it another way, an additional 24 days off a year on top of annual leave. This option also saves employees a day’s travelling time.

As well as giving workers a greater choice of working hours and working patterns the Inland Revenue is using the greater flexibility to improve its services to the public – using volunteers to extend the opening times of an enquiry centre, giving customers wider access to telephone services and providing customer seminars at weekends.

A great success for the project has been the development of workplace learning. Two of the offices have established workplace on line learning and at the third employees have access to a college. All courses – provided by learndirect – are free.

The Inland Revenue’s success is featured in Changing Times News an online TUC bulletin on Work-life balance issues.

Link: www.tuc.org.uk/work_life/tuc-5352-f0.cfm