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Departmental Working Hours

Volume 487: debated on Wednesday 4 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the policy of his Department and its agencies is on granting staff time off in lieu for working (a) in lunch breaks, (b) in evenings and (c) at other times outside contracted working hours; and if he will make a statement. (252025)

The Department and its agencies operate the flexible working hours scheme which aims to provide staff and line managers with as much flexibility as possible to accommodate their domestic and other responsibilities without impairing the efficient and effective running of the Department and its business.

The scheme gives staff the opportunity to vary their times of arrival and departure from work, around core hours, vary the timing and length of their lunch break, and take time off in lieu if they work extra hours. These principles apply to all staff unless standard hours are in operation (such as where a team has to provide a customer service between certain times). There may be occasions when the operational needs of the work performed to be given priority. In such circumstances staff and line managers agree suitable arrangements. This scheme is managed locally by line managers, and therefore we do not hold central details.

Part-time staff may choose to work additional hours if the arrangement meets operational needs. Staff are entitled to pay for additional hours above their normal part-time hours, up to the conditioned hours of the grade, when necessary for attending a training course. Line managers may allow time off in lieu to be taken as an alternative to payment subject to the needs of the work.

Staff working additional hours at weekends and/or on public holidays outside contracted hours will be paid at the enhanced rates for all additional hours worked.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many days off in lieu were granted to staff in (a) his Department, (b) its agencies and (c) its non-departmental public bodies for working (i) in lunch breaks and (ii) at other times outside contracted working hours, in the last year for which figures are available. (252026)

The Department’s flexible working hours scheme, which sets out how days off in lieu are earned, is managed locally by line managers using individual timesheets (‘flexisheets’).

These records are therefore not held centrally and to collect them would incur disproportionate costs.