Instead of requiring every employee to be present for a set number of hours each week, for 52 weeks of the year, this device is based on the total hours set for the whole year.
For example, based on a working week of 37.5 hours and 52.14 weeks, to allow for leap years, the total hours might be 1,955.25.
The employee and the line manager are then able to arrange a work pattern which delivers those hours flexibly, more at some times of the year and less at others.
This device is particularly helpful where the demand for services has peaks at certain times of the year, for instance parks and gardens departments. The device is attractive to employees in some circumstances, where they are keen skiers, or gardeners or have caring responsibilities, for example in the school holidays.
Clearly there has to be a balance between ensuring necessary service delivery and the personal preferences of various individuals. It is unlikely to be feasible for everyone to be absent at the same time. If more staff want time off than is feasible at a particular time, then it is likely that the same patterns will arise year after year and it may be possible to operate a rota, or to give partial satisfaction to everyone. The usual pattern is for a whole-year scheme to be drawn up covering the whole work group - well in advance so that holidays can be booked.
Complications also arise if unplanned sickness absence occurs at a time when the staff resource is low. It is prudent to build contingency clauses into the agreement/contract/policy to ensure that minimum staff levels are provided as a priority over everything else.
It is also important to maintain an overview of peak working time and avoid the risk of excessive working periods and the resulting staff burnout. Working Time Regulations require that, over any 17-week period, the average weekly working time does not exceed 48 hours.
Work-time recording systems are essential, and these must be properly operated to avoid the risk of argument.
The concept of annual hours was first devised for continuous shift workers, where the annual total was defined net of holidays, so that time off, including holidays, was all built into the schedule. If this device is not adopted, then to maintain minimum staff at all times, teams must operate clear holiday booking systems. Amongst hospital doctors, where similar imperatives exist, the operation of such systems has been shown to work best when organised and operated by the staff themselves - but always with the requirements of the service taking priority.
Salary is 'smoothed', that is, the annual salary is paid in equal monthly amounts regardless of the actual time worked.
Staff who are engaged on part-time contracts can still work on an annualised basis, with the part-time weekly 'notional' figure being multiplied by 52.14. But, if individuals expect that they will never be required to work during school holidays, then this is better defined as a term-time only contract.
This label is sometimes used to describe everyone who is not employed on the typical, Monday to Friday, nine to five, permanent contract pattern. It is sometimes used in HR policies.
There are distinct risks associated with the use of this label as it could imply a lower order of employee and could be used in an equalities claim.
Organisations which can anticipate needing extra staff to meet peaks or to cover sickness can set up their own bank of people who have registered as being interested in working at short notice.
The opportunity to register is advertised, or promoted through existing staff. Candidates are interviewed and selected against criteria in the proper way, and are given initial induction training. Paper checks are carried out where necessary, and the individual is then ready to work without delay.
There is no formal employment contract in place until a specific offer to work at a particular time is made and accepted, but the terms and conditions have all been clarified and agreed beforehand.
The people registered are able to decline any invitation to work, but protocols can be built in to give preference in future to those who accept.
The flexibility of bank work can make it attractive to semi-retired staff or others who may be able to fit additional work around other commitments.
Different people perform better at different times in any 24 hour period. Some people, sometimes known as 'night owls', find it genuinely difficult to perform their work early in the morning. Others have the same difficulty with evening work.
In many occupations, there is nothing that can be done. If a person finds that they cannot cope with a particular job because of the required work pattern, they may be advised to find other employment with a pattern which does suit them. Justifying poor performance by claiming to be a 'night owl', is unlikely to find favour in a capability/performance hearing.
However, there are some occupations where the time of day when the work is performed is not critical to the service. Supporting people who are content to undertake their work at non-standard times, may be feasible in such cases.
If this flexibility involves attendance at the workplace, then issues associated with lone working security, health and safety and costs may be significant. In these cases it is prudent to require the individual to undertake a risk assessment which should cover the worst case scenarios.
Flexible arrangements for one individual can cause upset to other members of the team if they perceive that they are being left with additional burdens. For example, if more telephone calls come in at nine am but some staff never work at that time. This can be overcome by reassigning other tasks to ensure equity. The approach should be one of open dialogue with the whole team in a spirit of mutual respect.
In this device, the contractual weekly hours are 'compressed' into a number of days that is less than 5. For example, if the contractual hours are 40, it might be possible to work 4 long days (x 9 hours) and a half day (of 4 hours).
Compression can also include voluntary agreement to work with fewer breaks or to reduce the length of lunchtimes. The employer must be conscious of the requirements of the Working Time Regulations, any period at work, which is six hours or longer must be interrupted by a break of at least 20 minutes. The employer should also bear in mind that taking breaks is healthy and adds to output.
Compressed hours are frequently combined with part-time working, so that for example, a 30-hour week might be worked in four days of 7.5 hours each, or even 3 x ten hours. But here again breaks become significant in relation to working time regulations and the whole time spent away from home may be longer than might be expected.
Details such as the calculation of a 'day's' holiday, including statutory holidays should be clearly addressed.
The needs of the business must be the priority in any consideration of a request for variation in working hours - there is little point in a switchboard being open at 0600 if no-one else is at work and no-one rings in. On the other hand, if the service needs would be better served by extending the working time to include evenings or weekends, then varying working hours in consultation with the staff who are going to be involved, can be mutually beneficial.
'By compressing my time into four days, I can do all of my domestic chores on the day off and actually enjoy my weekends again' - Compressed Hours worker.
An employer cannot unilaterally impose a change in contractual terms, such as the pattern of working hours or the location of the place of work. Such changes must involve genuine consultation with the employees or their representatives, and that must be 'meaningful'. This means that proposals must be presented while there is still time to change them, and due consideration must be given to the responses Management initiatives, and the processes used to bring them about, are tested for their 'reasonableness'.
There are statutory obligations which require the employer to give reasonable consideration to a request for flexible working, that is a reduction in hours or a change in the pattern of hours, from carers or parents. They specify that such requests can only be declined for sound business reasons.
Most public service organisations have internal policies which set out the steps to be followed to ensure such consideration. It is vital that these steps are always followed. It is good practice for a written note to be kept of the key points in the considerations and who was involved.
The spread of flexible working practices and the availability of replacement staff to 'fill in' for the reduced hours, make it increasingly likely that most requests will be accepted. Although, minor variations may be arrived at through constructive discussion with the employee concerned.
The fact that a reduction in hours is associated with a pro rata reduction in income means that the employee is unlikely to be making the request lightly. A refusal could result in that person leaving the organisation, or incurring high absence rates.
Modest part time working arrangements can help to retain staff with specialist skills, by ensuring that they keep up with developments in their field.
Research consistently shows that a positive response from the employer to an employee's request for contractual variation generates a return through greater commitment.
'You scratch my back... I'll scratch yours' The quid-pro-quo informal device used in many very effective workgroups where individual and operational needs are balanced by common sense. A peak in demand for services may require work over extended days and the team leader can ensure that the people who help out by staying on in their own time, are shown flexibility in return. For example, the team leader may allow time for car MoT tests, for staying in for domestic services, or for dental visits.
However, these arrangements do require good judgement by team leaders who have to maintain appropriate discipline in relation to start and finish times. They must maintain service focus in the team culture to avoid the risk of creating a laissez-faire attitude in relation to productive time, with staff coming and going as they please. Good practice is to focus on output, in terms of service delivery, to engender a culture of pride in the work produced.
It is often observed that HR policies, however well written they might be, are viewed as a last resort by employees and managers alike, because there are simply too many of them covering too many complex issues. It would be perverse to insist on compliance with policies at the expense of beneficial discretion.
This is a term to describe a contract where hours of work vary each week, according to the needs of the business. It is often used in the retail and leisure industries to ensure staff numbers match variable demand levels. A good example would be city-centre pubs on international days.
The concept requires rigorous record keeping and very good communication.
As the label suggests, this is a form of contract where the employee is engaged on a contract of employment for a defined period where the employment ends on the contract end-date.
This device has the advantage that generally no agency fees are involved unless a recruitment agency is used to introduce candidates for selection. All the parties, employee, manager and the wider organisation, have a clear understanding of the whole plan.
The device is especially useful in relation to project management, where a team is pulled together in order to undertake a specific piece of work. If that work is very clearly defined, the end-date can be left vague, being 'the date when the project is completed'. The organisation then needs to give notice of termination which in some other circumstances may be built in to the original contract.
Employees under fixed-term contracts must not be treated any less favourably than other groups, for example in relation to holidays or sick pay. They will build up normal employment rights through their period of service, including the right to statutory redundancy pay.
The initial contract can be for longer than four years. If the initial fixed-term period is extended, either through 'drift' where the employment simply continues (which is not good practice) or by the specific offer of a further period, such that the total period is more than four years, then the employee will automatically acquire the rights of permanent employment. That is unless the renewal which takes the period beyond four years contains a valid 'objective justification' for the contract not to be permanent. There are differing views about what may or may not be 'valid'.
Anyone employed on a fixed-term contract, needs close supervision and should be made aware that the expectation is that their employment will end on the end-date. The employer's representative, usually the line supervisor working to guidance from HR, must then seek to mitigate the consequences of that termination, by making genuine efforts to help the person gain alternative employment in the same organisation. People on fixed-term contracts may have priority consideration for internal job applications, for example.
The offer of a permanent job to someone who has proved their value in fixed-term employment does not carry the introduction fee cost which is usual with agency temp workers. But, the use of fixed-term contracts solely as a trial is unlikely to be viewed as appropriate.
There are two main risks associated with the use of fixed-term employment. Firstly, that the ongoing supervision has failed to seek to mitigate the effect of the termination. Secondly, that the employment, undetected by internal processes, drifts over four years creating permanent status and the potential for unfair dismissal.
However, properly managed and administered in appropriate circumstances, fixed-term employment can be a very useful device.
Flexitime systems are used widely in administrative functions. They require staff to be present through 'core hours', defined by the organisation, when everyone should be present. But, they enable individuals to arrive and leave early or late thus accruing or debiting time from their own account. There are many variations on the concept. Some are now abandoning the core time concept altogether, others are extending the time period when staff may work. Some of these modifications present the risk of employee preferences taking precedence over the demands of service delivery.
The device specifies the maximum number of hours that can be accrued and the deficit limit, and individuals can take hours or whole days off from this account with prior approval.
The challenge this device presents to the operational manager is to ensure that minimum numbers of staff are present at peak times and that the same individuals are not always left to deal with periods of high demand.
Absolutely accurate attendance record keeping is essential for this device. It can be achieved through integration with the email log-in system, but discipline is required to ensure everyone does log out at lunchtime.
Flexitime also carries the potential risk of alienating line managers, by appearing to give staff rights which may be incompatible with the higher priority of service delivery.
This topic is covered in detail - Click Here
For guidance on issues associated with income tax and homeworking - see:
Interim working is used mainly amongst senior managers or technical specialists where the organisation has a need for high-level input for a limited period of time. This may be to cover a gap or to complete a specific project.
The advantage over fixed term or temp-agency work is that there is an increasing labour supply available, backed up with a number of firms who will arrange the assignment. Like agency work, the contract is made between the principal employer and the agency. The agency enters into a contract with the interim worker. But, all is achieved through contracts for services rather than contracts of employment as the interim worker is likely to be self-employed.
This is not a low-cost solution, as the interim labour force is made up of individuals who have made a career choice to work this way. They will probably have formed their own limited company and will be able to command a high daily rate. The agency undertakes pre-selection screening and carry cash flow costs, paying the interim worker before the client pays their invoice. The agency charges a significant percentage, and as this is a contract for services, the interim worker is likely to charge for travel and accommodation. However, it is argued that individuals who work as interims bring experience and ability to the task and are able to deliver an internal consultancy service on particular topics as well as managing routine operations.
For more information see: http://www.interimmanagement.uk
Information technology is the enabler of 'techniflex' - the ability to work flexibly from just about anywhere. Training is vital. The normal office environment is full of other people who are able to answer the most basic 'How do I... ' questions. Most colleagues will be able to recount stories of times when they have received and given tips about the best ways of doing something on a computer. Working remotely, without access to the comfort of that help, can be extremely frustrating, "The computer will not work. It will not do what I want to do!"
IT helplines are fine as long as there is someone there who is able to resolve the problem. But, very often, the problems experienced by the homeworker are the most basic. In the office they would be simply answered by someone else in the room. Or, they are impossible - the 'server is down' kind. Here too, people working together in an office hear from each other that the whole network is down, whereas the homeworker, all alone in a remote location, can waste valuable time attempting to understand what they have done wrong when actually the problem lies elsewhere.
It is good practice to inform colleagues working at home routinely, whenever this type of fault arises.
Job share is a key part of the flexible working portfolio. The concept divides a whole-time job into parts - usually two.
Thus, if the full-time job covers 37.5 hours, each of the job sharers works something like 18.75. But, dividing the full-time work down to contracts which are specific to two decimal places carries the risk of engendering a precise clock-watching mentality. If someone is issued with a contract which says 'Your working week will be 18.75 hours', or worse, if it specifies start and finish times such as 13.45, the incumbent could not be blamed for getting up and leaving at the stroke of the clock.
Given that 'output' from workers who are committed and who respect their employer is measurably better than those who are treated in a functional, mechanistic manner, good employers 'blur the edges', for instance by defining the two contracts as being 20 hours each. The working time is specified to ensure that there is an overlap between the job sharers to deliver continuity.
Experience shows that, when set up smartly, the employer gains a further benefit from a double, end-of-week effect. It reflects the reality that many people like to clear the desk before they leave at the end of their working period. Hence, having two such clearances in the course of a week increases output.
Risks associated with job sharing include:
Statutory holidays present particular challenges. Someone who is employed on a half-time contract will only be entitled to half of the statutory holiday pay, but it is possible that the working pattern will be such that one of the sharers will always work on Mondays and the other on none. This is a simple challenge in a smart workplace. The one who always works on Mondays gives the time back by working extra hours, for example during the holiday of the job sharer and the one who never works on Mondays must have additional time off on some other occasion. Other equitable solutions are easily developed by discussion amongst the parties.
It is common practice to enter into a job-share arrangement on a fixed-term basis, with periodic reviews to ensure that all parties are satisfied with the arrangement and its effects (*eg - if the arrangement begins to fail because of pressures caused by absence. Refer to Wales Audit Office guidance on Managing Sickness Absence - Directory - "Integration")
The difference between a job share contract and a part-time contract is that the job share requires the involvement of two employees. Each has a contractual condition which specifies that their work pattern is dependent on their job share partner so that the whole arrangement is viable. It is normal for a job share request to be initiated by one person who is the current full-time post holder. It is equally normal for the employer to give conditional agreement, that is subject to being able to find someone to fill the other part of the job. This helps in the dialogues necessary to refine original requests which are actually impractical, for example because they leave short periods of time uncovered early in mornings and late in afternoons. These requests might be better treated as requests to drop to part time work.
The management consideration of any request to vary a contract, including a job-share request, must firstly accord with the organisation's policies which in turn must accord with legal requirements.
Requests must be treated carefully, with reasonable consideration given, and decisions to refuse must be justifiable. Service delivery should not be jeopardised by employee preferences, and it may be prudent to ensure that the hours that the employee wishes to abandon are capable of being covered by a job-share partner.
For detailed guidance see
A large, public-sector organisation faced with a request for job share or any other contractual variation is likely to find it difficult to arrive at a negative decision (as long as the working pattern is feasible). There are part time and job-share examples throughout the UK public services at every level in an organisation.
A group chaired by Denise Kingsmill produced a report for the Department of Trade and Industry in 2003 which brought about changes implemented in 2005. The changes required publicly-quoted companies to include coverage of human capital management in their annual Operating and Financial review.
Among the issues highlighted is the need to consider the future impact of demographic, geographic and occupational strategic trends and to take these into account in developing Human Capital Management strategies that will support corporate goals. This should include a regular assessment of whether the balance between full-time and part-time workers is appropriate to the objectives of the operation.
A lean way of thinking focuses on improving processes which directly contribute to the core customer services - for example, patient care. It identifies ways of minimising waste, that is, time spent on activity which does not add value to the service.
Lean is a 'whole-system' device which should be used across whole services rather than discrete sub-processes, as it may be that those processes themselves do not add value to core services.
Lean has been developed over many years, originally in Toyota, and has grown from 'The machine that changed the world' (Jones and Womack). It has proven its value in finding better ways of organising work. For example, analysis of a patient journey in one hospital showed that the patient visited the hospital six times over 31 weeks, incurring 610 minutes of their time, but receiving 100 minutes of value.
The healthcare input was 330 minutes over the same 31 weeks, generating the same 100 minutes of value. (see 'Lean thinking for the NHS', @ www.leanuk.org.)
Lean focuses on improvement to the things that matter in terms of the direct impact on services, and often highlights the need for flexibility to provide services that are capable of dealing with variation in levels of demand.
Hours that are worked within the normal contract are paid at the usual 'basic' rate, but if work is required beyond the full weekly total, then each hour worked after that is likely to attract a premium of additional pay which is often defined in national agreements at different levels for different periods of time. For example, if the basic working week is defined as 0830 to 1700, Monday to Friday, then 'overtime' pay rates may become payable from 1800, at time-and-a-third, basic pay rate plus 33.3 per cent. Higher premium rates may be payable at night time, defined, for example as from 2200 through to 0600), and at weekends, often with higher rates for hours worked on a Sunday.
Overtime is generally not payable if the working pattern is determined by the job holder, so if a homeworker chooses not to work in the afternoons, but prefers to work at night, and is still able to deliver their output, then it is unlikely that premium rates will be payable.
It is normal good practice for any overtime to require specific prior approval from an authorised manager.
Overtime which is worked every week, for example, to provide a Saturday morning service, can, through custom and practice and by commitment to rotas set out far in advance, become 'contractual' in that it is a 'normal' pattern then any attempt to change the arrangement requires the same levels of consultation as would be required for any other variation to a Contract.
A risk which frequently arises with overtime is that if the additional income acts as an attraction to the employees concerned, they can become used to higher earning levels, gearing their lifestyle to them. They may then devise highly inefficient working practices which are designed to maintain income rather than contribute to service improvement. In the worst cases, where overtime is triggered by the need to cover absence, informal rota systems may build up to ensure that absence always arises and the need for overtime is sustained.
In short, overtime is rarely a smart solution, carrying, as it does, high costs and significant risks. It is good practice to ensure that overtime is a very rare event for any work group, and patterns should be routinely monitored by senior managers.
People who work long hours tend to become tired, so that their output throughout all of their working time is low, and the overall impact of the overtime device can be to increase costs for the same (total) output and create a tired workforce. The Working Hours Regulations are also relevant and designed to encourage safe working patterns.
Occasional, or even regular, minor variations on the working day may be entered into by local informal agreement. Examples include making sure someone always opens or closes a building or switches on a switchboard at a defined time. The variations may be made to suit the personal or domestic needs of individuals, for example reducing lunch breaks in order to be able to arrive or leave at different times. These arrangements are a component in the smart portfolio (see 'discretionary' time.) but should explicitly exclude overtime.
As the patterns of careers develop greater diversity, and as more people demand less than full-time/full-year work, so the proportion of the population who reach retirement age with a pension based on 40/80ths of final salary, is likely to decline. At the same time, more people are likely to be physically and mentally able and want to carry on with work in some form beyond the age of 60.
Many public sector pension schemes now include options for reduced work, some allow draw down of elements of retirement lump sums associated with reductions from full time work.
Some individuals may choose not to continue with full time work until they retire, but may seek less demanding occupations, in terms of hours per week, weeks per year or the nature of the work itself.
Thus pension issues, either in terms of contribution rates associated with part time work, or in terms of benefits paid in a package associated with phasing down later on in people's working lives, are likely to be part of the equation associated with smarter working.
70 is the new 60.
An essential tool in every manager's kit, performance management focuses on the output of the people supervised. It establishes clarity over priorities, and agreed timescales for the delivery and standards of the work in question.
However - all plans should include an element for contingencies, and the manager's job is to help staff to constantly adapt through open and constructive discussion.
Performance management faces new challenges in relation to the flexible working portfolio, although it is worth noting that in many instances the overall output is greater than the 9 to 5 equivalent. For example:
In relation to homeworking, the manager must take positive steps to keep in touch, to give constructive feedback and to maintain a review on outcomes.
Use of annual / compressed hours / part time work can present challenges if the demands of service delivery arise when staff resource is low. It is essential that service delivery takes priority when managers plan staff attendance time, and to build in some flexibility to enable readjustment to deal with contingencies.
When using remote locations, managers must go to every workplace, frequently, otherwise, who is managing? Team meetings at central HQ can be useful and have their own merit, but the need to physically visit the satellites must be given high priority.
Agency and other 'non-core' staff cannot be expected to have the same high level of internal operational knowledge as 'regular' colleagues and therefore need more support. It may be that a greater emphasis on 'task' delivery, with clear instruction over what is expected today, is more appropriate.
This focuses on the time spent on core activities and identifying which of those core activities are actually the most productive.
Time spent clearing the daily snowstorm of email is essential, but is it productive? Does it actually make a direct contribution to the delivery of services?
One of the advantages of homeworking is the reduction of interruptions colleagues discussing last weekend's activities, or next year's holidays. Research conducted by Cardiff University into the noises which cause the greatest interruption in open plan environments show that it is actually colleagues attempting to be sociable who cause the most interruption to productive time.
Lean analysis suggests that as much as 95% of 'activity' at work does not actually add value. A focus on output rather than input can be helpful, in that it can establish 'norms', of how much work should be expected in what periods of time, then inform the management and supervision of office and homeworking.
Where staff have to work somewhere else, in a location away from the main centre of activity, either on a regular basis or occasionally, there are benefits, from the flexibility and informality this offers to the individuals concerned. It can improve productive time, in that output can be maintained but the device does also carry risks.
The staff can develop a unique local culture and if management presence is remote or occasional, then it is possible for this culture to develop a focus other than excellence in service delivery.
The Health and Safety Management Regulations require that a nominated responsible person is in charge of such operations, so that working practices are properly supervised. It is good practice for this to extend to everyday operational management, for example for the booking of time and attendance, avoidance of interpersonal grievances, effective cover of key functions, and so on.
Many of the risks associated with remote locations can be mitigated through regular engagement of senior staff through visits and thorough open communication.
Many industries utilise cohorts of employees purely for a particular time of year, for example agriculture. If a public service enjoys a peak of demand in some functions at different times of year, then the same device may be appropriate.
While the overall number of hours worked under the Working Time Regulations should be averaged over a 17-week period, thus allowing for some particularly high periods, the requirements regarding intervals between work (minimum of 11 hours) must be followed.
The best people to organise at-work arrangements, are often the staff themselves.
'The Ward Sister used to spend half a day each week planning out the roster. As soon as it appeared, the staff were swapping amongst themselves to the extent that her time had actually been completely wasted. Now the original plan is completed by the staff.'
Note that there are risks associated with this device. The needs of the service must take priority over all other considerations, and in some more complex operations, it is necessary to have a particular mix of skills present to anticipate calls. Online rostering may be the way forward.
A neat metaphor coined by Charles Handy to differentiate between three segments of the potential workforce:
The core - employees with permanent contracts, defined by Handy as usually being those who have specialist skill or knowledge - professionals, technicians, managers.
The flexible labour force - also directly employed by the principal organisation, but through various forms of contract which generate flexibility, for example part-time, zero/elastic hours, temporary and fixed-term contracts.
The contractual fringe - self-employed or agency workers used to supplement the core and flexible labour force either to add capacity or to add specialised skill or knowledge.
Handy was commenting on the growth of 'portfolio' employment patterns, where individuals might be engaged in several different forms of work at the same time. He draws particular attention to involvement in unpaid voluntary work in this regard. Equally he was commenting on the need for organisations to move away from monolithic one-size-fits-all patterns of employment. There is no suggestion that this concept is a prescription to be followed to the letter, rather it is an outline of a concept, or a set of broad principles which are likely to be manifest in different ways in different organisations.
Shiftwork, when properly supervised, can be a very effective component of the smart portfolio, limited only by the imaginations of those designing the systems. Patterns can be set up to be different on different days of the week, for example, late-night opening or at different times of the year, to meet variations in demand. Clear and comprehensive dialogue with the staff involved can help to develop effective flexibility around their personal interests and the service needs.
It is normal practice to organise staff into working patterns so that services are provided for more than one set of 37.5 hours. Where the variation is significant, then the creation of appropriate shift patterns becomes sensible. The patterns divide the whole time that services are required into periods that are compatible with regular attendance from groups of staff.
The most extreme example is the 168-hours per week pattern spread over the whole year, which may involve four or five shift-groups of staff working in a defined rotation of 'mornings' (6-2),'afternoons'(2-10),'nights' (10-6) and rest days. Lesser patterns include mornings and afternoons Monday - Friday, or extensions to provide cover on Saturdays and Sundays.
Shift patterns dominate the lives of the individuals working on them, as other aspects of life have to be interwoven, they can become inflexible, especially the more elaborate patterns.
As managers' working patterns tend to be nine to five Monday to Friday, and as the demand for services varies through the day and night, it is not uncommon for different organisational cultures to develop at different times over the 24 hours. In the worst cases, whole different sets of standards may evolve on the lines of 'the way we do things'. Where shift work is established, managers should make regular and in-depth visits to avoid those risks.
Many organisations choose to supplement their own (employed) workforce with agency temps, supply or locum staff who are employed by an agency. The contractual arrangements lie between the principal organisation (the employment business) and the agency, then between the agency and the worker.
The attraction of this arrangement to the principal organisation is that the agency workers are a resource 'on tap', able to be pulled in or stopped at a moment's notice.
Agency or supply staff who are actually employed directly by the principal organisation, through an 'in-house' operation, are not agency workers for the purposes of this guidance. They are employed and are therefore employees, albeit perhaps with zero or elastic contractual arrangements, maybe through an in-house 'bank'.
The principal organisation should ensure that anyone supplied to them as a temp via an agency has proper employment contractual paperwork in place with that agency, so that there is no misunderstanding. This is often tied up with the daily or weekly timesheet which is signed by an authorised person in the principal organisation. The host (principal) organisation is responsible for health and safety and should ensure proper induction training is carried out.
The cost of agency staff can be very high, especially where the individuals working this way are working odd shifts only to supplement their basic wage, as a variation of overtime rather than as a full-time job. Many public sector organisations have negotiated standing arrangements with named agencies so that instant cover can be obtained with minimal administration. These arrangements should be monitored closely and regularly to ensure that appropriate control is maintained.
The Public Sector Management Wales Toolkit 'Temporary, Agency and Interim Staff: Delivering Efficiency Savings through Procurement' (12 September 2006) includes the observation:
In some cases, agency staff are considered to be cheaper than permanent staff. However, analyses done in Havering and other London local authorities have shown that commission levels for agencies can be as high as 50% of the worker's wage per hour. There is a need to bring commission levels in line with what can be achieved in the sector. Estimates by other organisations have found that commission levels can be successfully reduced to 14-15% or lower by using a managed service, for all categories of staff - from administrative and clerical to social work.
Confusion arises as some agencies also serve as recruitment portals and provide candidates who are then appointed as employees within the principal organisation. The agencies charge a fee for the introduction. It is essential that all parties, especially the candidate, know whether they are there as an agency temp worker or as a potential employee.
The cost of a transfer temp to permanent can be prohibitively high and should be the subject of negotiation in the renewal of any standing arrangement with a supplier.
Please see 'Elastic hours'
The shape of the population available to join the public service workforce is changing.
The Office of National Statistics (www.statistics.gov.uk) reports that in mid 2006, there were more people aged 41 in the UK than any other age group. In Wales, (www.statswales.gov.uk, mid-year population estimates by local authority), the population in each age group remains similar until it begins to decline from the year of birth 1973 onwards.
This decline in population is likely to be balanced by the extension of the length of working life, associated with better health and increasing longevity.
'Smarter ways of working' is designed to support and to stimulate creative thinking about flexibility in the workplace. It should ensure that public-service organisations operate portfolios of different employment patterns. These patterns will be better suited to the demand from the potential workforce for patterns which suit their personal circumstances, especially in relation to 'phasing down' in later career stages, and integrating their work with caring responsibilities.
Click here to see guidance on Workforce Planning.
A variation on 'elastic' contracts, where the basic wording of the contract of employment states that the contract does not guarantee a particular level of hours of work per week, and that it may be that if there is no work, then there will be no hours.
The attraction of this device to the employer is that it provides considerable flexibility in workforce capacity without incurring costs. However, the formula is likely to be attractive only to people who find that irregular income meets their needs.
Every employee, regardless of their level of working time, is entitled in law to be provided with a statement of main terms of employment (a contract), and if anyone is employed under zero hours, they are still employees and will accrue employment rights, for example grievance, discipline, equalities, and holidays.
There is no such concept as casual employment. For a detailed explanation see: