Flexible working clause to be added to barristers’ contracts

Far-reaching employment rights are to be written into barristers’ contracts when they join chambers, under new guidelines issued by the Bar Council last week.

Under the scheme, barristers will now be able to have statements written into their employment policies allowing them to take career breaks, work flexible hours, part time or partly from home.

It also allows barristers on maternity leave six months without having to pay rent and chambers expenses. Their place in chambers will also be kept open for one year.

Also, in another development that will put the squeeze on chambers’ incomes, barristers with children will be exempt for at least one month a year from contributions to chambers.

Jane McNeill QC, who campaigned for the change, said: “With 1,502 called to the bar last year, of whom 51 per cent were women,
it’s more important than ever that family life is accommodated.”

She added: “The retention of women at the bar is vital for the future of the profession and we hope that these proposals go some way to address this.”