Business cards pinned by Jacob Rees-Mogg to government offices left empty because civil servants working from home have been called ‘rude’ and ‘condescending’.
The Minister for Government Efficiency is said to have left notes in ‘deserted’ Whitehall workspaces with the message: ‘Sorry you were away when I visited. I look forward to seeing you in the office very soon.
The FDA union, which represents senior civil servants, criticized Mr Rees-Mogg’s move, accusing him of damaging the reputation of the public service.
The PA news agency understands that Mr Rees-Mogg has started carrying out spot checks of government buildings he has been monitoring since he was put in charge of government effectiveness during Boris Johnson’s reshuffle in february.
Mr Rees-Mogg is said to have left a calling card in an area of the Cabinet Office following a whistleblower from a minister that the space that could accommodate ‘dozens’ of staff had been left ‘completely empty’.
A government source said: “The Minister strongly believes that government works best when as many people as possible are in its departments.
“In this case, the office in question was completely deserted.
“It is not right that the large government estate in central London is unused.”
Mr Rees-Mogg is working to encourage public servants to return to office after the coronavirus pandemic.
The former leader of the House of Commons, who ended parliament’s hybrid work when he was in his previous post, wrote to his Cabinet colleagues last week presenting them with a league table showing how many staff from each government department attended the office on average. day.
He told ministers they needed to send a “clear message” to their departments that with the end of Covid restrictions in England, officials should be back in office.
FDA Secretary General Dave Penman, responding to a social media post containing a photo of one of the postings for absentee staff, initially questioned its veracity before later telling Twitter followers that he had discovered that it was “real”.
In a statement, Mr Penman accused Mr Rees-Mogg of a “signal of virtue” and of waging a “harmful culture war” against the civil service.
“The fact that a minister thinks it appropriate to leave such rude and demeaning notes for officials speaks to how out of touch Jacob Rees-Mogg is with the business of government,” he said.
“With every statement and posting like this, it demonstrates that it has no idea how the modern workplace works and cares little about the efficient delivery of vital public services.
“Instead, he is determined to signal virtue to his political base and is either oblivious to it or simply does not care about the damage it is causing to the morale of public servants and the reputation of the public service in as an employer.
“Ministers should care about what is provided by the civil service, not where someone is sitting at any given time of day.
“It’s time for Rees-Mogg’s cabinet colleagues to stand up for their departmental staff and end the harmful culture war being waged against the very people charged with implementing the government’s agenda.”