UK Treasury staff warned security passes being used to check who’s at their desk

By on 09/05/2022 | Updated on 09/05/2022
UK chancellor Rishi Sunak rushes into the Treasury building.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak rushes into the Treasury building. Photo by It's No Game via Flickr

Civil servants working in the UK Treasury have been told that their office security passes are being monitored to check how often they work in the office as the row over officials returning to their desks continues.

According to the Daily Telegraph newspaper, officials have been told that data is being gathered from access gates at the front of the Treasury’s building in Whitehall, the UK government’s administrative centre.

The paper said the Treasury is thought to be the first department to specifically inform employees that their attendance will be recorded using this method. Although no target has been set for Treasury officials to be in a specific number of days per week, the department said it has seen a “significant increase” in office occupancy since the minister for government efficiency Jacob Rees-Mogg wrote to all cabinet ministers saying they must send a “clear message” about getting offices back to “full capacity”.

However, this move has been criticised by some of Rees-Mogg’s ministerial colleagues as a “Dickensian” effort to get staff back to pre-coronavirus working practices.

Read more: UK renews push to end working from home for civil servants – as Ireland signs up to 20% remote working

A government source told The Telegraph: “It has taken far too long for departments to shake off their lockdown mindset, but taxpayers and voters should take heart at reports that Whitehall is taking this seriously.”

Rees-Mogg’s decision to leave notes at the desks of civil servants who are working remotely saying “I look forward to seeing you in the office very soon” has also been criticised, including by Global Government Forum readers, who highlighted how beneficial hybrid working had been for them.

Rees-Mogg’s letter from last month also highlighted that average daily in-office attendance for officials was 44% in the week beginning 4 April.

According to desk occupancy figures, only 48% of Treasury staff were in the office on any given day, above the UK government average of 44%, but below departments including the Department for International Trade (73%), the Department for Health & Social Care (72%), the Cabinet Office’s headquarters at 70 Whitehall (69%), and the Ministry of Defence (67%).

Read more: ‘Maybe I was at a Downing Street party’: GGF readers respond to Rees-Mogg’s back-to-the-office note

About Richard Johnstone

Richard Johnstone is the executive editor of Global Government Forum, where he helps to produce editorial analysis and insight for the title’s audience of public servants around the world. Before joining GGF, he spent nearly five years at UK-based title Civil Service World, latterly as acting editor, and has worked in public policy journalism throughout his career.

One Comment

  1. Marky says:

    If you are good at your job – Leave

    Its important to avoid letting the militant incompetence of others harm your life.

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