Civil servants demand a four-day working week without losing any pay despite huge waiting times for key services
- Staff say doing their jobs from home makes them feel they are always on call
- Read more: Whitehall civil servants took over 770,000 sick days last year
Civil servants are demanding to work four-day weeks without losing any pay.
Members of the biggest Whitehall trade union are calling for a major reduction in working hours to be introduced across the public sector.
They say more time off is needed as doing their jobs from home has led staff to feel they are always on call.
And they claim it would be fairer than the current situation – where many employees have flexible hours, leaving their colleagues to ‘pick up the slack’ when they are off.
The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, which has almost 200,000 members across the UK including in many government departments, will debate the radical move next month.
Members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union on the picket line outside the Passport Office in Glasgow
A motion tabled for its annual conference calls on delegates to agree: ‘In the twenty-first century, it is time to take the next step and win a four-day week with fair pay for all.’
If voted through, the union will ‘actively encourage bargaining for PCS workplaces across the UK to establish a four-day working week at no detriment to pay’.
READ MORE: Waiting times for some key services such as passports and driving tests have tripled since Covid… while civil servants still work from home
The motion, tabled by staff from the Senedd Commission in Wales, explains: ‘We are concerned about the increasingly blurred boundaries between work and home life… For many, hybrid working is now becoming the norm without suitable safeguards in place for the worker as we continue habits that set in during an unusual time of protecting the nation.’
It continues: ‘Flexible working’ on a five-day week is increasingly creating tension among the workforce, particularly for those who are regularly picking up the slack for the gaps in a traditional five-day, nine-to-five week left by their colleagues’ working patterns.’
The Trades Union Congress, the umbrella body for Britain’s trade union movement, also backs a four-day week.
Results of a trial of the shorter working week across 61 companies published earlier this year found that staff were happier without productivity falling.
But the demand for civil servants to work far fewer hours will prompt alarm among ministers amid the worst public sector strikes in a decade.
And most government offices are half-empty as staff are still allowed to work from home several days a week.
Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, who led the drive to get civil servants back to their desks when he was a Cabinet Office minister, said: ‘We have low productivity and need to boost it, so reducing the hours people work is not likely to do so.’
A government spokesman insisted: ‘We have no plans to introduce a four-day working week.’
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