Changes To Flexible Working Regulations Heralds A Workplace Revolution

Word CloudChange is afoot with the introduction of new Flexible Working rules provided under the Children and Families Bill. These changes come in to effect on the 30th June 2014, but what are the changes and what do they mean, both for businesses and for employees?

Current legislation allows for employees with 26 weeks continuous service to apply for flexible working hours if they have a child under 17 (or 18 if disabled), or if they have carer responsibilities. The changes to the rules will allow all employees with 26 weeks or more continuous service to apply for Flexible Working. When considering applications, rather than the stringent procedures that have been in place until now, all that will be required is that all applications be considered in a ‘reasonable manner’. 

What is Flexible Working?

Flexible Working affects three areas: working hours, working times and working location. Applications may consist of requests for job sharing, working from home, part time hours, compressed hours, Flexi hours, or any combination of these.

Reasons to decline applications for Flexible Working include the inability of a company to reorganise work amongst existing staff, the inability to recruit new staff and the effect on the ability of the business to meet customer demand. Effects on performance and quality also feature, however for surgeries many, if not all of these points will be difficult to argue.

If a vet surgeon (or nurse) requests to work fewer hours or to work different hours, this can usually be accommodated by the provision of an additional part time role, or the creation of an out of hours specific role. Certainly this type of working practice is not going to have any affect on the performance and quality of work. As a number of practices need staff members to be working differing shift patterns (earlies and lates) and be on call throughout the day and night, every day of the year, it’s difficult to argue there is a time when the requested hours would be ‘inappropriate to work flow’.

These days, the majority of vets qualifying from college are female. As such the demand for flexible working hours to fit around family commitments has been increasing steadily for some years. However with the introduction of these changes we may also see more male vets applying for flexible working hours too. The evidence shows that the way people work is changing and it appears the veterinary world has become the unwitting leader of the revolution.

Pet Medic Recruitment has a variety of vacancies nationwide, including part time, locum and permanent roles. For more information on any of our opportunities please get in touch with us at info@petmedicrecruitment.co.uk

Women In Practice

Women walks dog

© Galina Barskaya | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Traditionally men have fulfilled the role of the Veterinary Surgeon, but recent years have seen a steadily growing proportion of women qualifying as surgeons. This trend has been growing annually, with no sign of tailing off.

This phenomenon is not just limited to the UK; the USA, Canada and Australia are also experiencing the same shift in demographic. 

In 1975-6, 34% of vet surgeon graduates were female. By 2005, 73% of graduates from veterinary schools were female. Unsurprisingly, the knock on effect has been to see a steady and relatively high influx of females into veterinary practices and this is forcing surgeries to re-think the way they run their businesses. The reasons behind the increase in women choosing the life of a vet surgeon have been widely debated but ultimately it is the impact this bias has had on businesses which has been the most striking to observe.

Women generally are leading the way in seeking more of a  work life balance. More family-friendly schedules, less demanding emergency hour rosters, better holiday allowance, part time hours – none of which would have been considered twenty years ago, but are now becoming more common place. This combined with the change to visa regulations, limiting the supply of overseas available locums means surgeries are having to ‘think out side of the box’, considering new roles such as dedicated out of hours staff and job sharing.

For a ‘traditional’ occupation such as veterinary practice, the idea of changing the fundamental way the business is staffed may seem daunting, but in reality it provides measurable benefits. Having more staff working fewer hours builds in a level of cover for busy periods, holidays and sickness which might otherwise require locum cover – a more expensive option. A larger workforce also brings a wider variety of knowledge, skills and experience, all of which can only prove beneficial to the practice.

People in the UK work longer hours than most of our European neighbours and as such, the work life balance has been difficult, if not impossible to maintain. Could it be that female vet surgeons will be a leading light in the quest for that balance to be redressed, across the employment market, in the years to come?

Pet Medic Recruitment has a variety of vacancies nationwide, including part time, locum and permanent roles. For more information on any of our opportunities please get in touch with us at info@petmedicrecruitment.co.uk

Why Visa Restrictions Are Strangling Vet Practices

Historically, Veterinary Surgeons have been in short supply in the UK. As a result these roles have long been on the ‘shortage occupation’ list, allowing qualified professionals from outside the European Union to gain entry visas to the UK to fulfil vacancies in these roles.

Then, in October 2011 the UK government accepted a proposal from the independent Migration Advisory Commission to remove several professions (including Veterinary Surgeons) from the ‘shortage occupation’ list; Visa applications were no longer granted on the basis of veterinary qualifications.

The result has been to reduce the number of veterinary professionals from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa entering the UK. Traditionally the influx of staff from the southern hemisphere has boosted the locum sector of the industry and proven to be an invaluable resource for surgeries, particularly during the summer months. With the changes in visa regulations, suddenly a key staffing resource dried up, leaving surgeries desperately hunting for alternative solutions. Whilst the opportunity is now wide open to EU counterparts to fill positions in the UK, that doesn’t seem to have happened, leaving a big gap in the locum market. [Read more…]