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Work-life balance

We all know how hard it is to switch off after a long day at work. Achieving a good quality of life often depends on how well you balance between the demands of employment and responsibilities outside of the workplace i.e. the work-life balance.

For some nursing and health care professionals, the pressures of work are so great that this balance can often seem impossible to achieve.

The RCN believes that all staff members are entitled to a healthy work-life balance. We also believe that all members of staff, regardless of gender, age and caring responsibilities or roles, could benefit from flexible working opportunities.

The organisation…

  • has effective policies on flexible working in place for all staff, including carer’s leave, parental leave and job sharing
  • monitors the uptake of flexible working to ensure equity of access
  • has provisions in place for staff who need to take time off at short notice due to domestic responsibilities
  • ensures that optimal shift patterns which provide for adequate rest and recuperation between shifts are in place
  • ensures compliance of shift patterns with the working time regulations is monitored and all required records are kept
  • promotes the use of self-rostering tools where staff are given appropriate control over setting shift patterns
  • promotes a culture where at work breaks and rest days are seen as an important safety feature and a contributor to both staff and patient safety and wellbeing
  • enables and encourages senior managers to model appropriate time management and adhere to working hours
  • promotes a culture of openness about time constraints and work pressures
  • has in place attendance management policies that are supportive rather than punitive and has measures to identify hotspots for absenteeism and presenteeism
  • ensures that line managers are skilled and supported to implement policies on attendance management, flexible working and shift design.

At a department/unit/team level...

  • changes to working patterns and shifts are agreed in partnership with staff and their representatives
  • a culture that enables staff to take their breaks and limits the number of times that staff work beyond scheduled hours is actively promoted.
  • adequate notice of rostered shifts (minimum of six weeks) and changes to shift patterns is given to staff
  • employees’ time off/non-working days are respected and not interrupted
  • in line with policies, there is support for staff who need to attend to take time off at short notice due to their domestic responsibilities
  • a culture is established where staff do not feel they need to attend work when sick and support is given to those who need to take time off work due to sickness
  • consider flexibility of work base for those who are able to work all or part of their time at home.

Page last updated - 18/11/2021