Warning to Whitehall staff about working from home

Warning to Whitehall staff about working from home as it appears they will be sent back to their desks if they look after their children during office hours

  • Government agency staff warned against leveraging hybrid working
  • The policies allow them to spend only two or three days a week at their desk
  • HR policies say remote work cannot be used as a way to avoid paying for childcare

Civil servants will be forced back into the office if they are found to be caring for their children when they are supposed to be working from home, it can be revealed.

Staff in key government agencies have been warned against taking advantage of new “hybrid working” arrangements that allow them to spend only two or three days a week at their desks.

Internal HR policies obtained by the Daily Mail make it clear that remote working cannot be used to avoid paying for childcare or working fewer hours, and that employee privileges can removed if their performance is found to suffer.

Staff at key government agencies have been warned against taking advantage of new ‘hybrid working’ arrangements that allow them to spend only two or three days a week at their desks

It comes after the Minister for Ending Culture ‘WFH’ raised the possibility of home staff losing the extra pay they receive for being based in the capital, known as the ‘London weight’ .

Jacob Rees-Mogg wrote in The Mail on Sunday: ‘If people aren’t back in their offices it will be fair to assume work need not be in London.

He has been branded ‘passive-aggressive’ for patrolling buildings in Whitehall and leaving notes in deserted offices, but his approach was backed by Tory Speaker Oliver Dowden yesterday.

Mr Dowden told Sky News: ‘If we really want to best serve the people of Britain, one of the things we need to do is have that collaboration that comes from working in the office.

“So Jacob’s efforts are driven by getting the best value for taxpayers and I support him in that.”

The Mail revealed that dozens of public bodies have recently developed ‘hybrid working’ policies which only require staff to spend 40% of their time in the office. But the documents also warn staff that they can be sent back to their desks if they are not working full time.

Jacob Rees-Mogg wrote in The Mail on Sunday:

Jacob Rees-Mogg wrote in The Mail on Sunday: ‘If people aren’t back in their offices it will be fair to assume work doesn’t need to be in London’

The Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority – which requires staff to spend just three days a month in the office – says: ‘Anyone with caring responsibilities must be able to commit to providing sustainable care substitution during their periods of work. Working from home cannot substitute for caregiving.

The British Council – which pays staff working from home £18 a month towards their utility bills – says: “Employees should ensure they are contactable when working from home.

“Employees with family responsibilities should be able to separate their home and work activities by arranging alternative care during agreed working hours when working from home.”

It warns: “If any issues arise…these will be discussed with the employee and managed in accordance with relevant British Council policies.”

The Information Commissioner’s Office points out that “a manager trusts someone to work with less supervision.”

It states: “The ability to work from home may be withdrawn from an individual if there are concerns about their performance.”

The data watchdog says they should stay ‘connected’ and be contactable when working from home ‘in the same way as when they are in the office’.

The Parole Board says it can “withdraw approval for flexible working if it believes there is abuse”.

The Disclosure and Barring Service says managers will monitor remote work and “any issues will be resolved immediately and remote work may be removed.”

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