Tory MPs have hit out at civil servants ‘working from the beach’ after it was revealed Whitehall officials are being allowed to log in remotely while abroad.
It has been revealed how staff at the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero are among those who can apply to work while overseas.
There has been a push by unions for those civil servants with connections, such as family ties, to countries other than Britain to be permitted to work abroad occasionally.
A motion at the FDA’s conference this summer called for the union’s bosses to work with Whitehall departments on how to enable overseas working across the civil service.
It was argued that much of Whitehall relaxed policies on IT and working abroad during the Covid pandemic, with union members pushing back at a recent tightening of rules.
Tory MPs have hit out at civil servants ‘working from the beach’ after it was revealed Whitehall officials are being allowed to log in remotely while abroad (file pic)
There has been a push by unions for those Whitehall officials with connections, such as family ties, to countries other than Britain to be permitted to work abroad occasionally
Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative leader, described the plans as ‘stark raving bonkers’
A Government source stressed that civil servants will only be allowed to work abroad in ‘exceptional circumstances’ and if they have the legal right to work in another country.
It will also be for a maximum of two weeks per year and solely for the purposes of visiting family and friends who live abroad.
There will be thorough security and data integrity checks on working practices, the source added.
The issue has angered Tory MPs who described the plans as ‘stark raving bonkers’.
Greg Smith, MP for Buckingham, told the Telegraph: ‘Hard-pressed taxpayers will be raising eyebrows across the country at the thought of civil servants kicking back, sipping cocktails on the beach whilst delivering public services.
‘We need civil servants in Whitehall, in their offices, delivering on the priorities of this Government, not saying they’re working, from the beach – we all know the reality of that. Just doing your day job from the beach is preposterous.’
Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative leader, added: ‘This is absolutely stark raving bonkers. I’ve never heard something more idiotic, stupid and pointless for a long, long time.
‘Working from overseas? I mean really? By the beach perhaps? In the sea? On a holiday? Really?
‘If the Civil Service chiefs think that is sensible, then we need a complete clearout.
‘You’ve got to ask yourself, of course, it’s not their money, it’s the taxpayers’ money, so they don’t care. Just bonkers.’
It comes after it was revealed how civil servants are being ordered to work in the office for at least three days a week as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak targets Whitehall’s working from home habits.
New instructions have been issued to officials to increase the amount of time they spend working face to face with their colleagues.
A leaked letter detailed how civil servants are being told to spend 60 per cent of their time in the office or on official business, rather than at home.
It also explained how senior managers will be expected to spend ‘more than 60 per cent’ of their time in the office in order to provide ‘strong visible leadership’.
Officials who are early into their careers and those on development schemes will also be expected to spend more than three days a week in the office.
Latest figures show how offices at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) were only at 57 per cent capacity in the week commencing 6 November.
Offices at HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) were only at 55 per cent capacity in the same week, official Government data showed.
A Government spokesman said: ‘Civil servants are not allowed to work remotely overseas unless there are exceptional circumstances.
‘We have always been clear on the benefits of collaborative face-to-face working.’