Tory MPs have slammed civil servants “working on the beach” after it was revealed Whitehall officials could log in remotely while abroad.
It has been revealed that employees of the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero are among those who can apply for jobs abroad.
Trade unions have been pushing for civil servants with links, such as family ties, to countries other than the UK to be allowed to work abroad occasionally.
A motion tabled at the FDA conference this summer called on union bosses to work with Whitehall departments to enable civil service work abroad.
It has been argued that much of Whitehall has relaxed policy on IT and overseas work during the Covid pandemic, with union members opposing the recent tightening of rules.
Tory MPs have slammed civil servants “working on the beach” after it was revealed Whitehall officials could log in remotely while abroad (file photo)
Trade unions have pushed for Whitehall officials with links, such as family ties, to countries other than the UK to be allowed to work abroad occasionally
Sir Iain Duncan Smith, former Conservative leader, described the plans as “completely mad”.
A government source stressed that civil servants would only be allowed to work abroad in “exceptional circumstances” and if they had the right to work in another country.
This will also last for a maximum of two weeks a year and will be for the sole purpose of visiting family and friends living abroad.
The source added that working methods will be subject to thorough security and data integrity review.
The case angered Tory MPs, who described the plans as “completely insane”.
Greg Smith, MP for Buckingham, said Telegraph: “High-pressure taxpayers across the country will raise eyebrows at the thought of civil servants relaxing and sipping cocktails on the beach while delivering public services.
“We need civil servants in Whitehall, in their offices, delivering on this government’s priorities, not to mention working from the beach – we all know that reality. Doing your daily chores on the beach is ridiculous.
Sir Iain Duncan Smith, former Conservative leader, added: “This is absolutely madness. I haven’t heard anything more idiotic, stupid and senseless in a long time.
“Working abroad? I mean really? Maybe by the beach? In the sea? On vacation? Really?
If civil service bosses think it wise, we need a complete clean-up.
“Of course you have to ask yourself: it’s not their money, it’s taxpayers’ money, so they don’t care. Just crazy.
The ruling comes after revelations of how civil servants have been ordered to work from the office at least three days a week as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak attacks Whitehall’s working from home habits.
Officials have been given new instructions to increase the amount of time they spend face-to-face with colleagues.
The leaked letter details how government officials are told to spend 60 percent of their time in the office or on official business rather than at home.
It also clarified how senior managers will be expected to spend “more than 60 percent” of their time in the office to provide “strong, visible leadership.”
Civil servants starting their careers and civil servants participating in development programs are also expected to spend more than three days a week in the office.
The latest figures show that in the week of November 6, offices at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) were only 57% full.
Official government figures showed that HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) offices were only 55 per cent full in the same week.
A government spokesman said: “Civil servants cannot work remotely abroad unless there are exceptional circumstances.
“We have always been aware of the benefits of collaboration and direct work.”