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Flexible working in the police service

Benefits of flexible working for individuals, forces and the service, and guidance for police officers, staff and managers.

Policing is a demand led, 24/7 service where its people are key to its successful delivery. By providing flexible working arrangements for staff, organisations are shown to have a more motivated and productive workforce. But flexible working cannot be seen as just being for the benefit of the individual or the force, nor is it just about childcare needs or desire for part-time working, but it is about gaining a balance that provides an opportunity for people to give their best at work and at home.

Benefits to individuals

Flexible working is any work pattern adapted to suit both the needs of the employer and the member of staff and is intended to help achieve a better work-life balance. The more common forms of flexible working are:

  • job share – more than one person sharing a single post
  • part-time – working fewer than standard hours either on a daily, weekly or monthly basis
  • compressed hours – working agreed hours over fewer days
  • annualised hours – set annual number of hours worked in any one year
  • staggered hours – different starting and finishing times for staff in the same workplace. This could be down to team level
  • flexitime – variable start and finish times negotiated locally

Individuals can request a flexible working pattern for any reason in an effort to aid their 'work-life balance' or to undertake additional studies or training. This does not affect an individual's statutory rights. Although there is no right to work a flexible work pattern there is a right to request to work flexibly. Applications for flexible working patterns should be considered for all roles unless the role has been objectively justified as being unsuitable for flexible working.

Benefits for the service

Flexible working allows the service to retain staff that may otherwise leave; this in turn reduces the costs of recruitment and training. By enabling trained staff to balance the needs of work a maximum return can be achieved on the organisational investment.

It gives managers flexibility in agreeing hours that are in line with operational need, peak periods of annual leave or sickness absence. It may also reduce sickness levels due to stress caused by constant pressure of conflicting requirements. Lastly, family friendly policies are attractive to potential employees. With this extra adaptability the organisation should also be able to manage peaks and troughs in demand more effectively, and provide a better service to the public.

Supervisors have a responsibility to support part-time and other flexible ways of working. These options may need more managing initially, but can make a real contribution to getting and keeping high quality staff.

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