26 September 2023

UNITED KINGDOM: Government ‘will not force office working’

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United Kingdom Prime Minister, Liz Truss has ruled out introducing a blanket rule for Government Departments to force Public Servants back to offices.

Ms Truss (pictured leaving her Downing Street office) said the Government was working on driving up officials’ office attendance, but added that home working sometimes made sense.

“We do want to see more people in Whitehall, back in the office,” Ms Truss said.

“That is being worked on, but ultimately it is a matter for businesses how they want to run their businesses, and it is a matter for people to make their own decisions.”

Asked in an interview why she did not just order them back, Ms Truss said there were some circumstances where working from home made sense “so I wouldn’t approve of a blanket rule”.

Public Servants’ office attendance currently ranges at between 40 and 80 per cent of capacity, according to the latest statistics.

Ministers have regularly urged Departments to increase office attendance since COVID-19 regulations ended.

Minister for Business, Jacob Rees-Mogg was one of the most vociferous opponents of home working in his previous role as Minister for Government Efficiency, urging Departments to order Public Servants back to offices and leaving notes on officials’ desks that said: “I look forward to seeing you in the office very soon”.

Mr Rees-Mogg’s efforts were supported by then Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, who said home working “doesn’t work”.

However, Ms Truss has expressed support for flexible working in the past, telling MPs last year that it “doesn’t just help women, it helps people who don’t live in major metropolitan areas”.

Ms Truss’s former Department, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, has regularly had some of the lowest attendance figures in Whitehall since occupancy data was published.

London, 6 October 2022

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