There are a number of different ways that colleagues can work less than full time.
- Part-time, or less than full-time (LTFT): less than 10 Programmed Activities (PA)
- Flexi-time: varying your start and finish times within agreed limits
- Compressed hours: working your hours over fewer days i.e. working longer days
- Annualised hours: working a set number of hours per year rather than per week. This can enable the individual to work, for example, longer days during term times and work less over school holiday periods.
- Structured time off in lieu: working longer hours at busy times and taking time off at less busy times
- Job-sharing: the full -time duties are shared between two individuals (could be part-day, part- week or part- year). The salary and benefits are divided between them according to the amount of time they each work.
There are some jobs that are advertised as only less than the usual 10 sessions of a full-time post. The NHS Improving Working Lives Initiative is keen to promote flexible working for all, including Consultants. There is also an awareness of the need to recruit and retain staff from a wide variety of backgrounds, including those who may have:
- caring responsibilities
- health issues
- and or who wish to focus more closely on their work life balance.
Further information can be found from your Trust or from the UK Government website (www.gov.uk). However, just because a full-time job is advertised as full-time or part time, does not address understandable concerns from applicants as to how a workable job plan can be achieved.
There are no clear rules but when considering applying for a less than full time consultant post, but consider
- Review the job description to see how it may work full-time as LTFT.
- Approaching the department directly to see what they can offer.
- A job sharing offer if you can link with a like-minded colleague.
- Explore supports such as NHS Employers guidance linked below
- Some Trusts are known to have a good track record on LTFT working
- There are no set rules as to the pros and cons of exploring wanting to work LTFT before or after a job interview.But it may be useful to discuss this with other colleagues who work in the same department/ the clinical director.
- Some colleagues advise to be up-front from the beginning, and work with the Trust to achieve a manageable job plan.
- When exploring options of part time hours, in a potential consultant job that is advertised as full-time, consider how the job could be manageable. So, if the job was going to be done in less hours, which part of the job description would you not be expected to do; who else would take on the part of the job description that you would not be doing; what could the cover arrangements and annual leave be for the days or hours that you are not working. Suggest caution for a response that implies that one could do a full-time job in part time hours.
- In general departments are now keen to be flexible to ensure recruitment of quality staff. And while as a potential Consultant who wants to work LTFT, it is good to be seen to be flexible, it is also important that you are aware of your worth and an appropriate and manageable job description.
Issues to consider include:
- Clarify a clear job plan and areas of responsibility, in the same way as full time colleagues.
- It may be possible to vary the hours that you work over time, by negotiation, depending on your needs and those of the department.
- Agree with your line manager who will cover you for days when you are not contracted to be in work.
- If you have agreed a job share arrangement, be clear of separate contracts and what will happen if one of you decides to leave the role.
- Clarify on call arrangements, and whether these will be equivalent to your full time colleagues or proportionately less.
- Consider with your clinical lead how to provide a degree of flexibility if you wish to work during a non work time for a specific clinical or managerial meeting, and how time in lieu can be agreed. If you are working LTFT for caring or childcare responsibilities, consider how your home arrangements can cover these eventualities.
- Consider in your job plan, how the clinical service in which you work, can accommodate clinical needs on days when you are not contracted to be in work.
- Ensure that you take advantage and the department supports appropriate and equivalent non-clinical SPA (Supporting Programmed Activities). If unsure, seek advice from the BMA.
- Suggest, in the same way for full time colleagues, that there are open and transparent arrangements in place for when you will be in work and when you are not contracted to be in work. This will increase your own effectiveness and reduce the likelihood that you are ‘never around’ or ‘not available’.
- Ensure that you can add value to your department with various non-clinical roles and sufficient time through your job plan, to carry out these roles, such as being a trainer, College Tutor, and other educational roles, service development, appraiser, Examiner and other important roles for the Trust.
- There is an impression amongst some colleagues that if you are part-time, then you are less committed to the work environment and this may make it a challenge for you to establish your own credibility. But usually a clear commitment ultimately reaps rewards.
- Any decision to request a change to flexible working must be planned well in advance and the impact of new working arrangements on colleagues and the department should not be ignored. There may be opportunities for others generated by a request to work fewer hours and collaboration with all those potentially affected may assist in generating a positive outcome.
- Be aware that there are obvious financial implications of working LTFT; and that you will accrue pension at a reduced rate compared to full time colleagues. As your pension is calculated as a fraction of an equivalent full-time final salary there is minimal benefit of working full time just prior to retirement. Further pensions advice can be gained from the NHS employers website.
- There are opportunities to enhance your salary through employer based Clinical Excellence Award. Consider seeking advice from other part-time and full-time colleagues when completing any application. It can be challenging to ensure those scoring the forms are aware that the achievements contained in your form have been whilst working fewer hours.
Resources for Specialty Doctors
Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AOMRC)
Results of the Flexibility and Equality Survey, 2012. A report by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges Flexible Careers Committee
Medical careers: A flexible approach in later years, 2018
UK Government website: Types of flexible working