Barristers still face flexible working penalty

1 August 2016

The Bar Council has launched a new flexible working guide for chambers, which includes proposals for possible rent reductions for those barristers seeking to work reduced hours or away from chambers because of care responsibilities. 

The new guide will help chambers introduce flexible working policies which are expected to help women and men with child care responsibilities, and barristers with other care responsibilities or a disability/long term illness. With concerns at the Bar of the potential loss of talent owing to insufficient family friendly policies at the Bar, this is the latest initiative aimed at retaining those who might otherwise seek employment outside the Bar. 

Chairman of the Bar, Chantal-Aimée Doerries QC,said: "The Bar needs to retain talent and some accommodation for those who need to work flexibly to meet their personal needs can make financial sense as well as being the right thing to do. Although the self-employed Bar should, in theory, have the flexibility to work as and when they wish, the reality is very different. Many chambers, under financial pressure, require certainty over income generated through rent and expenses. This can make it difficult to work flexibly. 

"The impact of flexible working on income also acts as a barrier where barristers are required to make a 'minimum' or 'flat rate' rent contribution. There may be a number of ways chambers could adapt rent to accommodate flexible working. 

"We are keen to help both chambers and barristers, which is why the guide includes a template policy for chambers to use as a basis for designing their own policies. However, it's going to take more than filling in the gaps on a ready-made policy to make it work and our guide gives other advice and tips for chambers considering flexible working." 

The Flexible Working guide is the latest in a string of initiatives aimed at supporting women and other barristers in their careers. Last week the Bar Council launched its Maternity Mentoring Scheme adding to a growing list of Bar Council initiatives to retain and support women (and men) at the Bar. This scheme sits under The Bar Mentoring Service, which already includes a scheme to help barristers  seeking judicial appointment or considering applying for Silk. The Bar Council also offers an Equality & Diversity Helpline and runs an Equality & Diversity Officers' Network to support EDOs and those with a 'management' role in chambers as well as  Equality & Diversity Training sessions. The Bar Council also produce a series of  guides aimed at improving the workplace for women and other barristers, covering Fair Recruitment, Sexual Harassment and Parental Leave policies. In addition, the Bar Council often runs career break seminars. 

Access the full Flexible Working Guide here. 

ENDS

Notes to Editors 

  1. Further information is available from the Bar Council Press Office on 020 7222 2525 and Press@BarCouncil.org.uk.

  2. The Bar Council represents barristers in England and Wales. It promotes: 

  • The Bar's high quality specialist advocacy and advisory services

  • Fair access to justice for all

  • The highest standards of ethics, equality and diversity across the profession, and

  • The development of business opportunities for barristers at home and abroad.

The General Council of the Bar is the Approved Regulator of the Bar of England and Wales. It discharges its regulatory functions through the independent Bar Standards Board