12 | Features Introduction of Flexible Service


Flexible Service will provide personnel with more options to help them manage their lives. With a year to go until launch, we talked to the leader of the project team responsible, Group Captain Justin Fowler,about what it means for Service Personnel and their families.

What is Flexible Service?

It involves arange of changes to introduce more flexibility in the way that people can serve in the Armed Forces, but the most significant change will be that members of the regular Armed Forces will be able to apply to temporarily work part-time or to restrict their level of separation, abit like being aReserve for awhile. This will replace the Flexible Duties Trial that is currently running. Some people may have heard of our project title –the ‘Flexible Engagements System (FES)’, or the Armed Forces (Flexible Working) Bill that Parliament recently debated.

Why do we need Flexible Service?

Because people have said that they want it and we need to modernise to continue to recruit and retain the talented people that the Armed Forces need. The impact of service on family life is consistently the highest reason people give for thinking of leaving and in arecent survey 70% of our personnel said they wanted opportunities for aflexible approach to work.

When will Flexible Service be available?

By April 2019, after we have made the necessary changes to the law,our pay,pensions and IT systems and made other arrangements.

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What does Flexible Service mean for individual people and their families?

Personnel will be able to apply to work part time or to have arestriction placed on the number of days serving away from their home base (or both) for up to 3years at atime. No-one will be forced to take this, but equally people must be clear that they will not be granted this unless their Service can manage any impact on operational capability.Service need will come first. The part-time arrangements will allow people to have one or two days off work per week, although other routines could be agreed. People will not be able to reduce their duties by more than 40%. The restricted separation option would prevent someone from being away from their home base more than aspecified number of days per year and so it would protect people and their families from the longer periods of separation, such as deployments. But both options will result in aproportional loss of pay and so people

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