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New support for public sector workers

Nick Clegg sets out new measures to help support public sector workers, including new initiatives for teachers and emergency staff.

The Deputy Prime Minister gave a speech to an audience of public sector workers, including teachers, social workers, local government and NHS staff, civil service apprentices & Fast Streamers. He thanked public sector workers for their hard work and dedication through difficult financial times, and announced a number of measures to support them in their jobs.

Read Nick Clegg’s speech: Supporting public sector talent.

The Workload Challenge for teachers

Nick Clegg said he was increasingly concerned by the rising workloads faced by teachers, adding:

I’ve met too many teachers now who feel somewhat beleaguered by the amount of administrative form filling, some of which they don’t feel makes much sense, is repetitive or is somehow seeking to second-guess their professional judgement.

To look at this problem, the Deputy Prime Minister is launching The Workload Challenge, inviting teachers across the country to have their say on the causes of unnecessary workload and what government should do about it.

The Deputy Prime Minister continued:

I believe it’s time for us to stop that runaway train of bureaucracy in its tracks, giving our teachers more time to do what they do best: creating and planning the best possible lessons and experiences for our children. In government, we’ve already done this for businesses: freeing up money and resources for millions of companies.

We want to do the same for the public sector – starting with teachers. This is part of the wider work being done by Nicky Morgan and David Laws to tackle the issue of workload across the teaching profession, following talks with trade unions.

A panel led by teachers and other experts from the education sector will work with teachers, Ofsted, unions and other stakeholders to put the best ideas into action early next year.

Mental health support for emergency workers

Figures show that in the UK, in both the private and public sector, over half of all long-term sickness leave is due to stress, depression and anxiety. To help emergency workers stay mentally well, the Deputy PM has announced that a new pilot programme will launch in spring 2015. Developed with the charity Mind, it will offer practical and proven techniques, advice and support to help prevent emergency staff from ‘burning out’.

The announcement marks another step towards putting mental health on a par with physical health. Read more about mental health waiting times, announced recently.

Full paternity pay for fathers sharing parental leave

From April 2015, when Shared Parental Leave comes into force for all workers, dads employed in the civil service who choose to share parental leave with their partner will get the same entitlements to full paternity pay as mums currently get.

The Deputy Prime Minister said he wants to see this change in the civil service “blaze a trail for other public and private sector organisations to follow”.

Under the current system, families have little choice in arranging childcare, and fathers don’t have enough opportunities to get involved when their child is first born. This change means more fathers will be able to afford to take time off to spend caring for their new born children.

The Deputy Prime Minister said:

I pushed for the introduction of shared parental leave in the first place, because we fundamentally believe it’s time for us to sweep away the outdated regulations and prejudices which still limit the choices of too many people in this country. Evidence shows promoting flexible working patterns like this can help boost employee productivity, loyalty and retention.

To help get that revolution started in the public sector, working with Francis Maude and the Cabinet Office, I’ve been pushing hard for radical reforms to the way in which the civil service pays and supports its staff after their children are born.

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