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2007 Health Care Service Group Conference
20 December 2006

Conference notes that the Improving Working Lives Standard (IWL) was originally designed to serve as a blueprint by which NHS employers and staff in England measured the management of human resources and how organisations were kite-marked against their ability to demonstrate a commitment to improving the working lives of their employees.

Conference recognises that genuine partnership between management and staff side colleagues, in some parts of the country, to sign off models of good practice has been seen as an essential part of any organisation achieving the IWL standard. Flexible working, family friendly practices and pro-active equality and diversity policies were just some of the benefits that IWL was seen to bring to an organisation’s workforce strategy.

However, Conference notes some alarming findings in the recent UNISON Pay Survey 2006 where although pleasingly 63% of respondents were aware that their employer was implementing Improving Working Lives, there was 81% who indicated that it had not had a positive impact on their job. This should serve to remind us of the original importance of this work and the continuing need to ensure that it remains a key priority for the NHS.

Conference therefore, calls on the Health Care Service Group Executive to work with UNISON’s health group, sector committees, regions and branches to:

1.Restate the importance of IWL with NHS employers in England and to carry out an audit to highlight where IWL has not been implemented and to assess reasons why;

2.Share best practice in organisations where IWL has had a positive impact on staff and publish a series of case studies to use as a model for IWL implementation;

3.Assess any equivalent schemes in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and develop best practice guidance applicable to NHS organisations in all four UK countries;

4.Raise with NHS Employers and the Department of Health our concerns that IWL has had its priority reduced and restate our commitment to its future role in the NHS;

5.Discuss the way forward for IWL, or any proposed alternative, to ensure genuine partnership working is extended to all parts of the UK and that the NHS remains committed to delivering a full range of flexible working practices to the benefit of all its staff.