Civil Service HR plans refresh of flexible working guidance

Move aims to help managers and applicants understand range of opportunities

Rupert McNeil Credit: Civil Service World

By Jim.Dunton

21 Jan 2019

The civil service’s chief people officer has revealed plans for a “refresh” of guidance on flexible working opportunities that aims to help managers and applicants better understand the range of options available.

In a blog post, Rupert McNeil said the move came against the backdrop of wider work led by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to promote flexible working across the whole economy.

McNeil said flexible working had “an important role to play” in delivering the civil service’s commitment to become the UK’s most inclusive employer by 2020. He added that it also had recognised benefits in improving work-life balance for staff as well as enabling parents and carers to combine work with their other responsibilities.


McNeil said that in common with the organisations signed up to the BEIS task force on flexible working, the civil service was publicising its next steps to increase awareness of opportunities to both recruiters and potential employees.

“To further help job applicants, we are preparing a new page for GOV.UK setting out our approach to flexible working,” he said.

“There will also be new guidance for vacancy holders on the refreshed Civil Service Jobs site, as well as a clearer menu of options, so that applicants know the types of flexible working available for each post advertised.”

McNeil did not specify when the online refresh of the Civil Service Jobs site would be complete. However, his blog post went on to detail other civil service initiatives aimed at highlighting flexible-working opportunities, including the Civil Service Returners Programme – which provides short-term opportunities for people looking to return to work after a career break, and the Civil Service Job Share Finder database.

Despite the civil service’s commitments, environment secretary Michael Gove last year came under fire from one civil service union for reportedly blasting flexible working in his own department. Last January, a cabinet source told the Sunday Times that Gove has claimed that some civil servants are stopping work on Wednesday afternoons if they have already worked 37 hours.

“Michael said they work their 37 hours a week and then they go home, even if that is Wednesday afternoon", while another source said: “Gove went on a rant… and said something along the lines of: ‘Do the civil service still work for 12 hours and get two days off?’ The PM wryly replied, ‘It’s called flexible working Michael, and we as a government support it.’”

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