As PM urges the nation to get back to the office, 60 civil service jobs are advertised with WFH


The Civil Service is still advertising ‘work from home’ jobs in flagrant disregard of the latest Covid rule update.

A total of 59 jobs across government departments have recently been listed with ‘home working’ as a possibility, despite Ministers insisting that workers should return to the office.

Among the roles advertised is a senior policy adviser in the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS), with a salary of around £38,000 – almost 20 per cent higher than the average wage in Britain.

The Civil Service is still advertising 'work from home' jobs in flagrant disregard of the latest Covid rule update

The Civil Service is still advertising ‘work from home’ jobs in flagrant disregard of the latest Covid rule update 

The successful candidate will be working beneath Permanent Secretary Sarah Healey, who was last year blasted for boasting about riding her Peloton exercise bike instead of being at her desk.

Meanwhile, a listing for an operational research analyst at the Home Office, which describes the role’s responsibilities as being ‘at the heart of the Government’s agenda’, says the job can be carried out in ‘an environment with flexible working options’.

The Ministry of Defence is offering a £40,000 job, which promises ‘alternative working practices such as working from home’.

And the crisis-hit DVLA, which has been lambasted for its slow delivery of HGV licences during the pandemic, is advertising for seven new ‘work from home’ positions, with one offering a salary of around £48,000.

A total of 59 jobs across government departments have recently been listed with 'home working' as a possibility, despite Boris Johnson (pictured) urging the nation back into offices

A total of 59 jobs across government departments have recently been listed with 'home working' as a possibility, despite Boris Johnson (pictured) urging the nation back into offices

A total of 59 jobs across government departments have recently been listed with ‘home working’ as a possibility, despite Boris Johnson (pictured) urging the nation back into offices

A total of 59 jobs across government departments have recently been listed with 'home working' as a possibility (file photo used)

A total of 59 jobs across government departments have recently been listed with 'home working' as a possibility (file photo used)

A total of 59 jobs across government departments have recently been listed with ‘home working’ as a possibility (file photo used)

The adverts read: ‘DVLA supports flexible working… We are working towards introducing a hybrid model, under which working arrangements will be driven by the requirements of your role in agreement with your line manager.’

The agency has been the subject of strike action from staff resisting calls to go back to the office for fear there were not enough Covid safety measures.

Other roles that allow for home working include jobs with the Animal Plant and Health Agency, the Information Commissioner’s Office and HMRC.

Last year, the HMRC’s chief executive, Jim Harra, told a tax magazine that he was focused on making ‘the introduction of mixed home/office working a success’.

At the Business Department just 142 of a possible 1,800 were counted as the Daily Mail yesterday found that at some Government departments as few as 3 per cent of staff were at their desks

At the Business Department just 142 of a possible 1,800 were counted as the Daily Mail yesterday found that at some Government departments as few as 3 per cent of staff were at their desks

At the Business Department just 142 of a possible 1,800 were counted as the Daily Mail yesterday found that at some Government departments as few as 3 per cent of staff were at their desks

Our research follows an investigation by our sister paper the Daily Mail yesterday which found that at some Government departments as few as 3 per cent of staff were at their desks.

At the Education Department headquarters just 63 out of the total 2,000 staff were recorded showing up, and at the Business Department just 142 of a possible 1,800 were counted.

A number of Ministries are set to push for a hybrid way of working. Staff at one department were sent an email on Thursday asking them to discuss their ‘ability and willingness to return to the office’ with their line manager and complete ‘an individual risk assessment form’.

The department stated it had a goal of a 40 per cent office attendance rate but this was ‘only being encouraged and is not being mandated’.

Staff will be asked to come into the office at least one day a week ‘if possible’, but must book a desk online in advance.

Defiant union bosses last night claimed it did not make sense to require all Whitehall staff to return to offices after they had shown they could work perfectly well from their kitchens and bedrooms.

The FDA union, which represents senior civil servants, said the world of work had changed for good.

Its general secretary, Dave Penman, accused Ministers of engaging in a ‘cultural’ war with the Civil Service, saying: ‘It’s not a health and safety thing – it just doesn’t make any sense. Ministers have made it this kind of cultural war.’

Analysis by The Mail on Sunday shows that a number of Government departments are still pushing for a hybrid model of working, despite the rules around working from home being dropped.

At the Education Department headquarters just 63 out of the total 2,000 staff were recorded showing up

At the Education Department headquarters just 63 out of the total 2,000 staff were recorded showing up

At the Education Department headquarters just 63 out of the total 2,000 staff were recorded showing up

One job at the DCMS is officially based in London or Manchester, but the advert reads: ‘It is anticipated that the successful candidate will have the flexibility to work remotely, with the anticipation that they attend a hub location two times per week’.

A business management lead at HMRC will only need to go to the office ‘where there is a business need’, an advert states.

Meanwhile, the Home Office’s recruitment hub boasts that a benefit of working for the department is ‘an environment with flexible working options’.

A Government spokesman said: ‘This is taken out of context. The vast majority of jobs are office based.

‘Even before the pandemic, it was common for public and private sector organisations to offer flexible working arrangements for some jobs.’

The Government hopes that getting civil servants to return to the office will set an example to private companies – and so reinvigorate town centre businesses.

But the PCS union, which represents public sector workers, has pushed back against the plans, claiming they are ‘reckless’.

Taxpayer millions spent on IT in civil servants’ homes

By Max Aitchison and Georgia Edkins for the Mail on Sunday

Whitehall chiefs are continuing to spend millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money on chairs, laptops and IT services for home workers, with some contracts running until the end of 2025.

A Mail on Sunday analysis across central and local government found around 20 contracts related to home working worth £4.9 million which extend well beyond the end of this year, even though the official guidance on home working has already been scrapped.

HM Land Registry has a £2.74 million contract which runs until February 2023 for the supply of home office furniture for its 6,000 staff, which works out at around £450 per person. The ongoing contracts contributed to an estimated £33.3 million government spend on home working between March 2020 and September last year.

The top-spending agencies were the HMRC with £7.9 million, followed by NHS England with £5.9 million, according to Freedom of Information requests submitted by The Spectator magazine.

Other offices spent lavishly compared to the size of their workforce. The Department of Agriculture, Environment, and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland spent a total of £2.8 million on home working for their 3,040 staff – the equivalent of £928 each.

Last night, a spokesman for HM Land Registry said: ‘This contract has been awarded to ensure we can provide furniture needs for office working, but also home working and hybrid working, to meet the needs of today and the future and is comparable in value to similar furniture contracts in previous years.’

Further figures from the TaxPayers’ Alliance show that more than £800 million has been spent on civil service offices in London since the pandemic began.

Danielle Boxall, media campaign manager at the pressure group, said: ‘Taxpayers won’t take kindly to footing the bill for empty offices.

‘Paying for the prime location of Whitehall pen-pushers costs a small fortune, with operating costs alone running into the hundreds of millions of pounds.’

Officials relocate to the country hoping never to commute again

By Anna Mikhailova for the Mail on Sunday

Civil servants have bought houses in Cornwall and the Cotswolds ‘gambling’ that they will never have to return to the office.

Government sources last night said a number of Whitehall officials have relocated as they expect to be able to work from home (WFH) indefinitely.

One source said they know a number of pivotal staff who are ‘living in places in Cornwall and the North of England while still claiming London wages’.

The insider said the civil servants are ‘betting that they will never, ever be forced in’ and have ‘taken a gamble’ by buying homes far from Whitehall during the pandemic.

Picturesque: Cotswolds appeals to civil servants working from home (file photo used)

Picturesque: Cotswolds appeals to civil servants working from home (file photo used)

Picturesque: Cotswolds appeals to civil servants working from home (file photo used)

But the source added that not having full teams in the office at the same time ‘hammers the ability to function as a group’ and affects the productivity of Government departments.

Luke Johnson, the entrepreneur and former Pizza Express chairman, said senior officials have ‘other motivations’ for keeping the culture of working from home in Whitehall.

‘The medium and senior management in the public sector probably live in nice houses with gardens,’ he said. ‘They are saving on commuting fares. As far as they’re concerned if they have to go back, it’s like a pay cut.’

Another Government source said civil servants relocating to the Cotswolds is ‘lovely for them, not as good for their junior staff who get paid hardly anything’.

Boris Johnson last week urged Government departments to set an example for the private sector and return to ‘normal’ office patterns after Covid WFH guidance was lifted.

The Prime Minister said: ‘Across Whitehall, we need to show a lead and make sure that we get back to work, everybody gets back to work.’

Plan B ‘work from home’ guidance was lifted last week after official data showed Covid infections falling in most parts of the UK and in most age groups.

 



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