Health unions believe that a new agreement on flexible working will help create a better work-life balance for many employees and improve recruitment. However, they also underline the importance of increasing staffing levels to ensure that the agreement can be fully implemented. The new contractual terms will allow staff to: request flexible working from the start of their employment (removing the requirement to have six months’ service); make an unlimited number of applications for flexible working, instead of just one a year; submit applications without having to justify requests or provide specific reasons; and access a process where managers must refer on requests that cannot be accommodated initially to ensure all possible solutions are explored.
Health unions welcome new flexible working rights
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From 1 October the 100000 workers covered by the private health and social care agreement are entitled to a flexibility bonus if they agree to stand in for a colleague at short notice . They will get a EUR 20 bonus for the shift (if only three days' notice) and EUR 10 for further days. The arrangement was part of the 2019 collective agreement negotiated by the vida and GPA-djp private service unions. The unions see this as an important initiative, recognising the high level of workloads, extent of sickness and staff shortages that often need to be addressed with additional shifts.
Workers at Roscommon Council in the west of Ireland, members of the Fórsa trade union, have begun a series of strikes in order to win back their rights to flexileave. The right is seen as important, particularly for working parents and is being denied to Roscommon workers despite it being a right enjoyed across local government, endorsed in the national agreement and supported by a ruling of the Labour Court. The local government workers have taken two days of strike action and organised a protest march. They will continue to strike every Tuesday and Thursday. EPSU and other union