Hundreds of civil servants will NEVER return to the office after striking deals to WFH permanently 

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Hundreds of civil servants will NEVER return to the office after striking deals to WFH permanently

  • Number of civil servants on special ‘home-working’ contracts has almost tripled 
  • The biggest increase was in Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 
  • The number rose from 117 before the pandemic struck to 380 earlier this year

Hundreds of civil servants will never have to return to the office after being allowed to work from home permanently.

Official figures show the number of Government employees on special ‘home-working’ contracts has almost tripled since the pandemic.

There were 183 home workers across eight of the main Whitehall departments in 2019-20, rising to 309 the following year and 530 in 2021-22.

The biggest increase was in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), where the number rose from 117 before Covid struck to 380 earlier this year. 

In the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) the number rose from 14 to 60 over the same period.

Official figures show the number of Government employees on special ¿home-working¿ contracts has almost tripled since the pandemic

Official figures show the number of Government employees on special ‘home-working’ contracts has almost tripled since the pandemic

And in the Cabinet Office – which is meant to lead the drive for civil servants to get back to their desks – it doubled from 30 to 62.

The Department for Education has 15 home workers, the Department for Levelling Up nine and the Department for Culture five, while HM Treasury and the Ministry of Justice had fewer than five.

Elliot Keck, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, who obtained the data under the Freedom of Information Act, said last night: ‘Taxpayers are sick of the double standards in the civil service.

‘Central London real estate lies empty and public sector pay outstrips private sector pay, yet the number of Whitehall home workers soars. If mandarins insist on going remote long term, officials must make savings.’

Government efficiency minister Jacob Rees-Mogg has led the crusade against WFH by leaving notes on empty Whitehall desks and urging ministers to order civil servants back to the office

Government efficiency minister Jacob Rees-Mogg has led the crusade against WFH by leaving notes on empty Whitehall desks and urging ministers to order civil servants back to the office 

The Cabinet Office said most civil servants are office based. Those who want to work from home permanently must apply to their line manager to change their contract and it will be approved only under certain conditions.

Staff who need to carry out work such as handling sensitive documents cannot work from home permanently, for example.

Those allowed to become contractual home workers must undergo a six-month trial and have a designated room as their office. A Government spokesman said: ‘These arrangements go through strict approval processes.’

Meanwhile, tens of thousands more civil servants spend only a few days a week in the office under ‘hybrid’ work arrangements. 

The latest figures show that in the last week of July, only the Ministry of Defence’s HQ was more than two thirds full, with 71 per cent of its staff in the office. The Scotland Office was the emptiest, with 27 per cent occupancy.

Government efficiency minister Jacob Rees-Mogg has led the crusade against WFH by leaving notes on empty Whitehall desks and urging ministers to order civil servants back to the office.

Tory leadership frontrunner Liz Truss said this week she supported his efforts and ‘will be looking at that very carefully’ if she becomes prime minister. ‘We need more people to work in the office,’ she added.

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