Probe into ‘flexitime’ deals for civil servants - by Kara Kennedy and Ewan Somverville - 06.08.22
In a follow-up piece to our Spectator article on the ‘Blob’ we provide our readers with an insight into current working practices within the Civil Service which we are pleased to share with our readers.
According to a weekend report in the Telegraph :
“Scores of officials in Government departments are allowed to decide the hours they work on any given day under the little-known “flexitime” arrangement.
Mandarins can decide their start and finish times, providing they add up to the Civil Service’s standard working week of 37.5 hours – around five hours less than the national average.
Some have boasted that they freely disappear to the gym for hours and skip the office on Fridays without oversight from managers.”
Government ministers have finally woken up to what’s going on and Jacob Rees-Mogg, the minister for government efficiency
“has intervened to demand an official Whitehall-wide review of the system over fears that taxpayer cash is being wasted.
On Saturday Mr Rees-Mogg told The Telegraph: “I have already encouraged civil servants to come back to the office instead of working from home, with improvements across Whitehall as a result.
“But while we need some flexibility, I am concerned that too much ‘flexitime’ will keep civil servants from the office and from doing their best work.”
Current working practices include
‘flexitime’ which allows them to work, for example, 1pm until 4pm one day, and 10am to 2pm the next with certain core hours.
But it is the high levels of office absenteeism which will cause particular anger given the poor levels of service many are forced to put up with when trying to deal with government departments:
"Despite the generous deal, 12 of the 19 main Whitehall departments were still less than 67 per cent full at the start of July, with just four in ten officials back behind their desks in the Foreign Office and both the Home Office and HMRC barely half full.
While the Cabinet Office said strict approval processes are used, one official in a Whitehall department admitted their day is “very, very flexible, to the extent that it has no rigid form”.
“I go to the gym in the middle of the day for two hours and nobody has ever asked where I am,” they told The Telegraph. “I sometimes don’t come in on Fridays because I know my manager isn’t there.”
Another civil servant said: “I live for the Civil Service flexitime contract, which means that instead of my life revolving around work, work revolves around my life.”
The full article can be found below with a link to the original here: