Minister rejects request for wage cuts for home-based civil servants

The call of civil servants who refused to return to the Whitehall desk to reduce wages was rejected by ministers.

Executive Secretary Kwasi Kwaten said he would like to see staff in his department enter the office a couple of days a week.

However, in a series of broadcast interviews, he admitted that flexible work (staff working at least some time from home) “stays here.”

His comment came after an unnamed Prime Minister told the Daily Mail that employees who did not return to the office should dock their salaries.

Kwasi Kwaten, Secretary of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Secretary of State Kwasi Kwaten of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy spoke at a press conference in Cheshire, England, on July 6, 2021. (Peter Byrne / PA)

The minister argued that employees who continue to work from home receive a “de facto salary increase” because they do not have to pay for commuting, which is “unfair” to new employees.

However, Mr. Quarten strongly rejected the claim, saying that telecommuting staff made an important contribution.

“I never suggest it. I don’t know who it is. I think teleworkers make a big contribution to the workforce,” he told LBC Radio.

Quarten said he wanted to increase the number of staff at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, but was reluctant to set a solid schedule.

“I don’t know when the COVID pandemic will end. I don’t know the situation, but ideally I want most of the workers in my department, or all the workers, to come in a couple of days a week. I’m out, “he said.

“I think three days a week is fair. I’m reluctant to have to do it by September 1st or September 15th. I think I have to do it pretty quickly. [but] Before you make that call, you need to know where the pandemic is occurring. “

He said it didn’t make sense for the government to try to dictate to private sector employers how quickly they would bring their staff back.

“I think flexible working styles will continue, but I’ve always said that it’s up to employers and employees to make their own arrangements, depending on the needs of the company and the needs of the business,” he said. Says. He told BBC Radio 4’s “Today” program.

“I don’t think it makes sense for a government diktat to tell you exactly how many hours you spend in the office or at home.”

Earlier, the civil servant union responded angry to the proposal that staff working from home could face wage cuts.

Dave Penman, general secretary of the FDA union, told PA News Agency: “These insulting comments from ministers and politicians only show that they are not touching on modern labor practices.

“Over the economy, in both the private and public sectors, employers employ hybrid work, which improves the work-life balance of employees and reduces employer office costs.

“The important thing for the minister is not where individual civil servants sit on a particular day, but whether public services are effectively provided.”

The line exploded as health ministry (DHSC) staff revealed plans to require some offices to be based in September. This means that civil servants there can continue to work full-time at home.

The Guardian reported that the DHSC had informed staff from September that “minimum expectations” should be in the office for a minimum of 4 days and a maximum of 8 days each month unless there is a business or welfare reason. .. ..

A government spokesperson said:

“Our approach, based on learning during a pandemic, takes advantage of both office and telecommuting across the UK.”

Gavin Cordon