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An unnamed Cabinet minister has suggested that civil servants should have their pay cut if they refuse to return to work in the office.
According to reports in the Daily Mail, the minister said that “people who have been working from home aren’t paying their commuter costs so they have had a de facto pay rise, so that is unfair on those who are going into work”.
“If people aren’t going into work, they don’t deserve the terms and conditions they get if they are going into work,” the minister added.
Dave Penman, general secretary of the FDA civil service union, said the comments were “insulting”, claiming they “only demonstrate that they are out of touch with modern working practices”.
“Across the economy – in both the private and public sectors – employers are embracing hybrid working, which provides greater work-life balance for employees and reduced office costs for employers,” Penman added.
He pointed to the fact that the government had recently announced that an additional eight government departments will move into the new civil service hub in Leeds, facilitated by hybrid working.
Its Places for Growth strategy that will move civil service jobs out of London is predicated on at least 40% of roles being done remotely, he pointed out.
“What should matter to ministers is whether public services are being delivered effectively, not where individual civil servants are sitting on a particular day,” he said.
Flexible working expert and lecturer at Liverpool John Moores University Gemma Dale said that reducing civil servants pay would be