Civil servants should beware – and perhaps embrace rainy Mondays – after a cabinet minister suggested the government would be checking if work from home rates spiral during good weather.
Jacob Rees-Mogg also hinted that officials would consult lists of sporting fixtures. It comes as the government steps up its campaign to convince tens of thousands of civil servants to spend more time in the office.
On Friday Boris Johnson said that he did not believe the current working from home system was working.
He said that in his experience it involved “getting up, walking very slowly to the fridge, hacking off a small piece of cheese, then walking very slowly back to your laptop and then forgetting what it was you’re doing”.
The prime minister added that he believed in the “workplace environment”. “And I think that will help to drive up productivity, It will get our city centres moving in the weekdays. And it will be good for mass transit. And a lot of businesses having a tough time will benefit from that,” he said in an interview with the Daily Mail.
Mr Rees-Mogg said that figures showed many civil servants worked from home on Mondays and Fridays, describing the pattern as suspicious and hinting that not everyone was working a full five-day week.
“I do worry that the desire to take off Monday and Friday is an indication that people think that the working week is shorter than the reality is,” he told The Daily Telegraph. “If people were working from home, and saying that Tuesday was the main day they wanted to work from home, and they were always in on a Monday, you may feel that it genuinely fitted a convenient pattern of work. One can’t help but be suspicious about the desire to work from home on Mondays and Fridays.”
Officials would look at weather patterns and the dates of big sporting matches when analysing the data, he suggested.
While current figures looked at attendance on a weekly basis “we are going to need to look at it on a daily basis,” he said. “And we’re going to have to compare notes with the Met Office. Because we’ve got the evidence on Mondays and Fridays, we need to have the evidence on Lords test matches and all that.”
The government has outlined plans to cut 91,000 jobs from the civil service to return the headcount of staff to 2016 levels.