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Working Hours

Volume 404: debated on Tuesday 15 April 2003

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To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what policy on (a) core hours and (b) flexible working hours is operated by his Department and each agency and non-departmental public body for which his Department is responsible. [107655]

HM Treasury

The Treasury has one location in London. For people working full time the contracted working week including meal breaks is 41 hours. A five day working week is, wherever practicable, the standard arrangement throughout the Department. There is no standard departmental core hours or flexible working hours scheme. All such schemes are set up on a Team basis by agreement between the Team Leader, line managers and members of staff. Hours are recorded using a working hours spreadsheet. The Department encourages alternative working patterns including part-time/term-time working and job sharing and homeworking.

Inland Revenue

For people working full time the contracted working week—including meal breaks—is 41 hours in London or 42 hours elsewhere. These hours are normally worked over a five-day week. Generally, including an hour for lunch, the standard daily hours in London are 08.45 to 17.00 from Monday to Thursday and 08.30 to 16.30 on Friday. Elsewhere they are 08.30 to 17000 Monday to Thursday and 08.30 to 16.30 on Friday. The standard daily hours can vary between different offices.

Most people in the grades Administrative Assistant through to Senior Executive Officer can choose to work flexible working hours (FWH), and in practice the vast majority do. There is a national FWH framework that has been agreed with theunions—it has been updated and expanded very recently. Local office schemes are drawn from the national framework.

Broadly FWH offers people a range of different working patterns. They can take up to three-days' "flex-leave" in an accounting period (usually four weeks). And there are rules to prevent people building up too large a deficit of hours.

Inland Revenue policy is to offer FWH to as many people as possible but always subject to the requirement to balance the needs of staff to achieve an appropriate work/life balance with everybody's responsibility to meet business and service requirements. So the FWH provisions of particular schemes will differ, because they will be determined by local business need.

HM Customs and Excise

Staff work 41 hours, including lunch breaks, in London and 42 hours including lunch breaks, elsewhere, with the attendance pattern being dictated by the needs of the work at a particular location. Within these attendance patterns, the Department operates various attendance schemes which enable staff to balance their work and domestic lives, and this supports the Department's policy of achieving a diverse workforce.

These attendance schemes include part-time/term-time working and job sharing; home-working and flexible working hours (FWH). Under FWH, staff have a core time of attendance which is locally agreed between management and unions, typically 10.00 to 15.30. Staff have a reasonable degree of freedom over their meal break within the core time, and over their starting and finishing times outside the core time.

Some of the Department's attendance patterns that are driven by the needs of the work still allow staff a considerable degree of flexibility in the way in which their working lives are arranged.

The Valuation Office Agency

All staff should attend between the hours of 10.00 to 12.00 and 14.00 to 16.00. Staff can work between 7.00 and 19.00 (subject to the opening hours of individual buildings). They must take a minimum of half an hour for lunch. They must be at work during the core hours.

Staff can carry forward or go into debit to a maximum of 18 hours over a four week accounting period. Credits can be taken as "flexi leave" of up to 2–5 days per four week accounting period.

Staff are required to record all hours they have worked. Records are checked and audited.

The Agency is currently piloting new and more flexible ways of working in order to facilitate an enhanced Work Life Balance for staff. As pilots, they are not as yet "Policy", but will inform future policy. These pilots essentially remove the core hours and include "compressed hours".

The Government Actuary's Department (GAD)

GAD operates a flexible working hours system. Employees' conditioned hours are seven hours and 12 minutes per day and, including meal breaks, 41 hours per week. Core hours are between 10:00 and 12:00 and between 15:00 and 16:00. Flexible working bands exist for employees to start work at anytime between 08:00 and 10:00 and leave anytime between 16:00 and 18:30. This is recorded on an electronic 'flexi clock' over a four week period. Employees are allowed to take up to two days flexi leave in the relevant period provided they have the relevant amount of credit. Extra time must be worked to reduce any deflicit.

Debt Management Office (DMO)

The DMO is a small organisation with approximately 80 specialist staff and operates flexible starting and finishing times where possible taking account of operational requirements, and does not operate formal flexi time or flexi leave arrangements other than for staff transferred in from the National Investment and Loans Office to the DMO last year. The core hours between which staff would normally be required to work are 10.00 and 16.00 hours

Former NILO staff may at present continue to vary their times of arrival and departure in accordance with their Flexible Working Hours Code of Practice. This provides for a bandwidth between 8.00 to 10.00 for arrival and 15.30 to 18.00 for departure, providing that overall efficiency is maintained and that adequate cover is provided during the working day. A maximum of one-five days accumulated flexi leave may be taken in each four week accounting period.

Additionally full consideration is given to all requests from the combined NILO/DMO staff for temporary or permanent changes in working arrangements (such as reduced hours, short working week, part time or job share arrangements) because of changing demands in individuals) personal lives or for such circumstances as religious or cultural observance, caring responsibilities etc.

The Royal Mint

The Royal Mint operates a Flexible Working Hours system for many of its administrative staff whereby they must be present during the essential part of the day (core time) but are able to vary within reason, provided meaningful work is available, the hours worked before and after the core times.

The core times are 09.30–12 noon and 14.00–15.30. The earliest and latest start and finishing times are 0700 and 1800. Staff may carry over each month a debit or credit of up to a day and a half. There is, however, an overriding principle that this flexibility must be achieved without impairing the efficiency of the Department and the service it provides. Staff working in, and directly linked to, the manufacturing processes are not on a flexible working hours system.

Office of Government Commerce (OGC)

Standard working hours in OGC are 41 hours per week including a one-hour lunch break each day. Core hours when staff are expected to be at work are from 10.00 to 12.00 and from 14.00 to 16.00.

OGC have introduced a Flexible Working Hours scheme (FWH) that provides staff, with the agreement of line management to work flexibly within agreed core times. The OGC Flexible Working (FWH) Scheme is based on conditioned hours of 144 hours across a four-week accounting period, for full time staff. Staff who work more than their net conditioned hours in the accounting period are able to carry over a number of credit hours into the next 4-week accounting period. Staff may also carry over a debit into the next period. The scheme aims to provide staff with as much flexibility as possible to allow more scope to accommodate personal and domestic commitments. It also provides flexibility for managers to meet the business needs of OGC.

Office for National Statistics (ONS)

ONS allows staff to work flexibly across all its four sites. The current system requires most staff to be in the office in core hours, but in the Southport Office no "core" period exists within the working day.

Details of the core and flexible hours periods in each working day are set out in the table. In practice people can work flexibly around these hours subject to business need.

ONS site

Core hours

Flexible hours

London10.30–11.30; 15.00–15.3007.00–19.00
Newport10.00–12:00; 14:00–15.3007.30–18.30
Titchfield10.00–12:00; 14.00–15.3007:00–19.00

National Savings and Investments (NS&I)

NS&I operates flexible working practices for all employees. NS&1's core hours are from 9:30–12:00 and 14:00–15:30, which is the period when employees must be on duty. NS&I operates a formal flexible working hours scheme for eligible employees. The set periods of the working day when an employee can decide are 7:45–9:30, 12:00–14:00 and 15:30–17:45.