Minister Mia Amor Mottley is encouraging public officers to embrace the new and improved way of working, as outlined in the recently approved Flexible Work Arrangement Policy for the Barbados Public Service.
Ms. Mottley said the flexible work arrangements, which allow officers to accept a compressed week, flexi-time, staggered hours or telecommuting, now bring the public service into the 21st century.
“When this administration came to office in May 2018, the main focus was on modernising the public service and bringing its operations into the 21st century. We started this process by removing anachronistic jobs and providing more meaningful work for public officers. The next step was to modernise operations to facilitate an ease in doing business through technology and modern work arrangements.
“We have now been able to achieve that plan, so this new arrangement augurs well for public officers and the public sector, and it is a win-win for all involved. It should create work-life balance, improve productivity and employee engagement, as well as bring about an ease in doing business, so our economy should also benefit,” she stated.
The Prime Minister explained that at a Social Partnership meeting in 2018, she mandated the Ministry of the Civil Service to Chair a Sub-Committee on the Structure of Work, which focused on the modernisation of the public sector.
She pointed out that all of the stakeholders, including the workers’ unions, were involved in the process to make sure the best Flexible Work Arrangement Policy was developed and implemented.
Ms. Mottley added that research had been conducted among public officers and temporary employees in 2019 and the majority of them had expressed a desire for the work structure to be revised to include flexible work schedules, along with the standard workday.
“Given this forethought, we were prepared to respond to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic since we had in place a blueprint to work flexibly. Caregivers could work from home and therefore continue the organisation’s business while not being physically in the office,” she said.
Ms. Mottley noted that some countries had adopted a similar method of flexible arrangements for their public officers and were already seeing positive results.
In a compressed week, an employee works his usual number of full-time hours in fewer days by working longer blocks of time per day. The suitable arrangement must include health, safety and welfare considerations.
A flexi-time arrangement allows management and an employee to agree, within certain limits, for example, when to begin and end the workday and where the work period can vary from day-to-day.
With staggered hours, there are different start and end times for different groups of employees, but they must complete a period of work that is equal to a standard workday, as agreed by the Head of the Department. Telecommuting entails an employee performing specific work-related duties from home or another remote location for a specified period.
The officer would be required to work from office at least one day per week, unless there are extraordinary circumstances which will prevent this from occurring.