Dorries criticizes Jacob Rees-Mogg’s ‘Dickensian’ approach to working from home | Jacob Rees Mogg

Nadine Dorries has criticized Jacob Rees-Mogg, the minister responsible for Brexit opportunities and government effectiveness, for imposing a ‘Dickensian’ approach to working from home on the civil service.

Rees-Mogg, who was previously called ‘the honorable member of the 18th century’, wrote to Cabinet ministers urging them to force staff into a ‘speedy return to the office’ and left notes in empty workspaces from Whitehall with the message: “Looking forward to seeing you in the office very soon.”

Labor MPs called the move “condescending” and “passive aggressive”.

Rees-Mogg presented figures to the cabinet last week showing some departments were using just 25% of office capacity at the start of April. Dorries’ Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport was at 43%.

The Culture Secretary said Rees-Mogg’s letter to ministries conjured up ‘images of burning tallow, gloomy eyes and the ghost of Marley’ in reference to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

She said: ‘There’s a whiff of something Dickensian about it. Why are we measuring bodies behind desks? Why don’t we measure productivity?

The Times reported that several other cabinet ministers had reservations about plans to force civil servants back into office, and that some permanent secretaries had also raised concerns.

Dorries and Rees-Mogg previously disagreed over the need to return to workplaces after coronavirus restrictions were lifted. But a government source told the PA news agency that the dispute between the two was “in good spirits”.

Dave Penman, general secretary of the FDA union, which represents senior public servants, said Rees-Mogg’s approach would mean “good people will leave and the public service brand will be trashed in a highly competitive job market. “.

He said: “It sends a signal that he just doesn’t understand how modern offices work. He doesn’t understand… what’s happening in the economy as a whole, not just in the public sector.

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Rees-Mogg used a Mail on Sunday article to say civil servants could lose London weighting on their pay or have their jobs moved elsewhere if they weren’t in their desks.

“Those who are at their desks every day seem to be younger, hardworking and ambitious civil servants, often renting flatshares in London for whom the office provides a supportive working environment.

“Meanwhile, others are enjoying the fruits of their London weighting at home in the counties. As Minister responsible for Government Property, it is my responsibility to ensure that the Government Estate is managed effectively and Empty offices are a cost to the taxpayer.

“Essentially, if people aren’t back in their offices, it will be fair to assume that work doesn’t need to be in London,” he said.

Internal HR policies obtained by the Daily Mail stated that remote working could not be used as a way to avoid paying for childcare or working fewer hours, and that there would be sanctions if people’s performance is found to suffer.

Oliver Dowden, chairman of the Conservative Party, defended Rees-Mogg’s approach in an interview with Sky News.

He said: “As we learn to live with Covid, I think if we really want to best serve the British people, one of the things we need to do is have this collaboration, this kind of sharing of ideas that comes from work in the office.

“So Jacob’s efforts are driven by getting the best value for taxpayers and I help him do that.”

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