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The Army is bringing in Flexible Service this year. We spoke to an officer taking part in a trial of the scheme.
The Army is introducing Flexible Service from this Spring. It will enable serving soldiers to apply to work part time and/or to restrict their level of separation from their family temporarily. No-one will not be able to reduce their duties by more than 40 per cent.
Both options will result in a proportional reduction in pay and the Army will be able to cancel or suspend FS arrangements if necessary, where circumstances have fundamentally changed. Applications will only be approved where operational capability can be maintained, but the Army says people at all levels will need to look for ways to support applications by finding different ways of doing things.
They say this may require a re-prioritisation of tasks or using part-time Reservists to take on some of the work. In advance of the introduction of the scheme, the Army is trialling the scheme. Regimental Medical Officer Major Mike Claydon and his family are one of the families taking part in the trial.
Mike heard about the Flexible Duties Trial from a fellow medical officer who was in a similar position.
“I’d returned from an overseas deployment which had not been easy on my wife, who was pregnant with our second child,” he said.
“Our conversations had turned to life outside the Army, so the opportunity for some stability with a toddler and a new-born was very attractive.”
Mike is currently employed on full-time limited deployability (FD1), which means he is not liable for operational deployments or separation for more than 28 days.
He said: “I was granted 10 months on FD1 to coincide with the date that I was due posting. The application process is relatively logical and straightforward.
“It required the approval of the chain of command up to the Commanding Officer [CO] as well as confirmation from the RAO [Regimental Adminstrative Officer] that I was eligible.
“My CO was aware of our need for stability and was very supportive.
“There was some concern from the medical centre that it would reduce my work output, but I was able to persuade them that, as I would be around, it would have the opposite effect.”
Being in barracks for an extended period has enabled Mike to better manage his workload within normal working hours and tackle some important but non-urgent projects.
“This has increased my job satisfaction,” he added. “And I’ve been able to help look after our children as well as invest more in our marriage.
“We are now more aware of the benefits the Army can offer in terms of community and quality of life.”
The direct benefit the trial has had on Mike and his family during a busy stage in their lives has helped to set the conditions for a long career in the Army – and it is something that he would encourage others to do.
“As an option that is open to all at some point in their career I think it will be an enabler for long military service,” he said.
*This article was first published in Army & You magazine.