Jacob Rees-Mogg angers unions, telling civil servants to get back to the office

Jacob Rees-Mogg, Cabinet Office minister, has written to colleagues, urging them to send a "clear message" to the civil service about his return.

20 Apr 2022| News

In a letter to Ministers, Jacob Rees-Mogg (Minister of State for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency) wrote: “Now that we are learning to live with Covid and have lifted all legal restrictions in England, we must continue to accelerate the return of civil servants to office buildings to realise the benefits of face-to-face, collaborative working and the wider benefits for the economy.

“To deliver this, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster [Steve Barclay] and I urge you to issue a clear message to civil servants in your department to ensure a rapid return to the office.”

Civil servants have continued to work from home due to unions pushing for concessions on flexible working, the Daily Telegraph said.

Rees-Mogg has circulated a league table of all 16 Whitehall departments’ office occupancy in an attempt to end civil servants working from home.

The Department for Education topped Rees-Mogg’s working from home league table with 25% of staff coming into the office at the start of April. It was followed by the Department for Work and Pensions at 27%, and the Foreign Office at 33%.

Dave Penman, the general secretary of the FDA representing senior civil servants, said: 

“It’s ludicrous that civil servants are being counted with clickers. Ministers should be concentrating on what’s being delivered, not numbers at desks.”

Mark Serwotka, The general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), said:

“These comments from Jacob Rees-Mogg and his Conservative colleagues are a slap in the face to PCS members who worked tirelessly and who made immense sacrifices during the pandemic.

For over two years, often under the government’s own instruction, many of our members have demonstrated that they can do their job from home. The suggestion that they’ve been ‘sitting at home’ is deeply insulting.

The government rightly lauded our members when it mattered. Now they seek to denigrate and offend them. Instead, they should embrace the benefits of hybrid working and make good on their promise to build back better.”