People Management: Three minutes with - Claire Edwards, information and training manager, Special Needs Information Point, Edinburgh

Three minutes with - Claire Edwards, information and training manager, Special Needs Information Point, Edinburgh.

Why did you introduce flexible working hours? We provide information and advice to parents of disabled children. All four members of staff, including myself, are parents of disabled children, and we have one volunteer who cares for a disabled relative.

Many parents of disabled children feel that they cannot work because they keep needing to take time off to go to various appointments, and their children tend to be more prone to illness. Most of them also tend to be single parents.

How does it help? It is not the case that you can't work for us if you don't have a disabled child or relative, but we believe it's essential that our employees really understand the issues involved. Our clients consistently tell us how much they value our ability to relate to them.

How does your flexible hours scheme work? We are open from 10am to 4pm, Monday to Friday. As long as we have enough people here during those times, people are free to select their own hours. They can choose to start earlier and finish earlier, for example.

How has paid carers' leave helped? Three years ago, we introduced paid carers' leave of up to 84 hours a year. People might feel that they have to take a whole morning off work to go to the hospital, when really it might only take two hours. This way, staff only need to take off the exact amount of time they actually require, and are then trusted to get their work done around it.

Has it affected efficiency? In the past two years, the number of calls we deal with annually has doubled to 2,500, and we received a special commendation from Working Families at its Employer of the Year awards at the end of last year.

Staff have actually become more focused now that they are not worrying about how to fit in their other commitments.

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