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Civil service fast stream - family friendly?

(11 Posts)
Isbutteracarb Mon 25-Nov-19 17:54:44

I've applied for the civil service fast stream, I'm preparing for the assessment centre and I'm just wondering if any current/former fast streamers or civil servants can advise as to how flexible/family-friendly the programme is? I appreciate there will be variations across departments but I'd like to know if fast streamers are offered flexible working conditions (AWPs, flexitime etc) as other civil servants are and whether relocation restrictions are offered to those with young children or only those with school-age children.

On the one hand I'm excited to have gotten to this stage in the application process but I have a one year old so I'm trying to establish whether or not I could balance the demands of the fast stream with my caring responsibilities (and commuting), so if anyone has any insights I'd really appreciate it smile

OP’s posts: |
jewel1968 Mon 25-Nov-19 19:27:57

I have managed quite a few and I support flexible working. The dept I work is very supportive of flexible working. The key is communication and flexibility on both sides. I feel strongly about it but other managers may be a little more old fashioned.

RummidgeGeneral Mon 25-Nov-19 19:32:02

The young fast streamers in my office seem to work very long hours. They are as keen as mustard so I don't know how much is their choice. They are in the chief execs office so there is great potential to work every hour God sends. This is an agency rather than mainstream civil service dept so I dont know how typical it is.

Babyfever93 Mon 25-Nov-19 21:32:11

I’m currently on the fast stream and would say 100% family friendly - you get a relocation restriction if you don’t want to make the move for any sort of caring responsibility (never heard of an age limit!) or if the office is over an hour and a half by travel you should be able to get ‘double commitment’ for an additional rental closer to the office or some fast streamers have chosen to commute and use that to buy their extended season ticket. if you need a department that encourages flexible working I know both DFE and DWP (corporate side/digital) are fab at allowing working from home/flexi time to pick children up from nursery/stay at home for illnesses. As a career changer (Ex teacher) I’m considering TTC during the fast stream as you can ‘stop the clock’ and pick up right where you left off on the scheme - with the cabinet office maternity package. Shhh 😅 definitely not told my cabinet office manager that one! Good luck with the assessment centre smile x

Isleepinahedgefund Tue 26-Nov-19 09:11:18

Yep I'd agree it depends on how supportive your govt department/manager are, but that is the same as any other civil service job.

The whole civil service is supposed to be "smarter working" by August next year, which means they basically won't have enough desks for people so everyone has to work flexibly. It can be a big culture change for people, and because of this departments have embraced it to differing degrees - my last department has been fully smarter working for years - total flexibility of hours/ home working (subject to business needs), video conferencing etc. At my current department I had a bit of a wrangle because my manager thinks if he can't see me I'm not working (I have changed his mind but he still says I'm the exception not the norm...). The whole department is very 9-5 still and hasn't started the culture change yet. The department I'm moving to next year has let me set my own working pattern - everyone has to work remotely sometimes as they literally don't have enough desks for everyone, but beyond that they fully embrace video conferencing etc, whereas where I am you might as well not be in the meeting if you've dialled in, and they mostly refuse to use the video conferencing facility.

My advice would be to work out what flexibility you need and agree it with your manager up front before you start. Don't worry about how that would be perceived - the reason many of us have stayed in the civil service is because it offers us family friendly flexibility.

Good luck for the assessment centre!

Isbutteracarb Tue 26-Nov-19 15:16:04

Wow thank you all for your replies, this is encouraging! I currently work in the civil service and it would be hard to beat what I've currently got in terms of flexibility (my manager is incredibly accommodating and very laid back) but in terms of the job itself I know I could cope with something more challenging which is why I applied for the FS. I just assumed that given how competitive and intense the FS is that there would be a trade off in terms of flexibility. I currently have an AWP agreed with my department (32 hours over 4 days), am I right in thinking that fast streamers only work full-time?

OP’s posts: |
Babyfever93 Tue 26-Nov-19 16:14:23


I’ve heard of fast streamers not being full time - usually those in a similar position to yourself as a previous civil servant with an agreed work pattern. My current posting said full time/part time and flexible working when it was sent to me in the summer - also had choice of two locations.

Hope that helps!

Isbutteracarb Tue 26-Nov-19 16:42:34

That really does help, thank you!

OP’s posts: |
MeadowHay Thu 28-Nov-19 10:19:12

This thread has upset me a bit - I made contact with them as I was considering applying but have a toddler, and was categorically told that relocation would be expected as they would expect me to be 'flexible'. That was literally all they said, so I didn't apply, as absolutely cannot relocate.

Babyfever93 Thu 28-Nov-19 10:59:25

That is really poor from them!!! Sorry to upset you. It seems once you’re in and through the crazy application and assessment process that they do bend the rules/expectations a lot more than advertised. I know some lucky fast streamers that even without a relocation restriction/children who have managed to get three postings all in Manchester for their three years. 🙄 you could give it a go next year? If you’re still interested or quite a few people who joined found an EO or HEO role while they waited to start for the fast stream if you’re not already part of the civil service already smile

MeadowHay Thu 28-Nov-19 15:16:12

Oh no, don't apologise, not your fault! Just disappointing that they told me that when I even told me them that the reason I was asking was because of childcare arrangements for my toddler, if it was not accurate.

I am not working for civil service, no, there's not that many opportunities near me within a distance that I can feasibly travel to on public transport as I don't drive. I will keep an eye out though.

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