The Union negotiated long and hard with Health Services for the inclusion of the Flexible Working Arrangements entitlement.
Flexible Working Arrangements aren’t something frivolous or something we just invented to make life more difficult for managers. Flexible Working Arrangements are something that offers workers actual flexibility in their working life, and delivers another tool for managers to better manage staff, their workloads and feelings of stress, exhaustion and burn-out.
Between excessive workloads, avoiding burnout and to dealing with issues in your personal life (whether that be your health, your family or some other part of life that affects your ability to attend work as required), Flexible Working Arrangements are there to give you the ability to deal with such matters without having to worry about putting your employment at risk or using up your leave entitlements.
They also provide management with an important tool to better support workers, especially for dealing with personal circumstances while keeping people connected to the workplace. These arrangements provide support while acknowledging that these circumstances aren’t permanent and eventually the usual workplace arrangements will be back in place.
This part seems to have been completely ignored by Health Service managements.
The inability for many members to secure Flexible Working Arrangements, despite the very real need to access this entitlement, is a significant concern to the Union.
It’s also a failure of Health Services to see it as an opportunity to reduce burn out, workplace stress and acknowledge their workforce has been under tremendous pressure for many years COVID-19, and its variants, continues to circulate through our communities.
However, the reasons we’ve been told for not approving Flexible Working Arrangements, more often than not, boil down to management’s wishes and what they want.
They seem happy to ignore the fact that accessing this entitlement is your workplace right.
We’re increasingly finding that health services are bending credulity with reasons to deny our members workplace rights. Increasingly, we find there is a culture within health services of being wilfully ignorant of your rights at work whilst also senior (and I mean the most senior) people are unwilling to push back to their superiors that some services are just not able to be delivered with the resources that are available.
Health Services are failing to provide a workplace that delivers support to workers when they need it and seem to be resigned to having a workforce that is overworked and overwhelmed. They seem to ignore the fact that their overworked and overwhelmed workforce may be prone to making more errors or taking longer to do certain tasks and activities.
There is a culture within Health Services that seem incapable of admitting that overworked people will make mistakes, but we know they are very happy to put the blame for mistakes on our members when things go wrong. Never will they admit that it is the lack of resources that is contributing to more problems and more errors, as they refuse or delay in hiring the staff needed to ease workload pressures while expecting you to do more with less and less.
It also speaks a truth about the lie Health Services tell about flexibility. They all proclaim they offer flexibility, in fact some Health Services use it as part of their recruitment advertising, but what they actually mean is – flexibility is for management and what they want and not for you or for what you need to deal with in life. just because a hospital is a 24/7 service does not mean that every worker needs to be available 24/7 in perpetuity.
The Union will continue to pursue Health Services over Flexible Working Arrangements, that’s why it is vital that members who have had their applications rejected to contact the Union.