Reports from various news outlets states an unnamed cabinet minister has suggested that civil servants who choose to work from home should receive a pay cut. 

An anonymous senior cabinet minister interviewed by the Daily Mail has shared their view that civil servants should have pay docked if they decide to work from home post-pandemic.

When questioned on why this would be, the minister stated:

People who have been working from home aren’t paying their commuting costs so they have had a de facto pay rise, so that is unfair on those who are going into work.

If people aren’t going into work, they don’t deserve the terms and conditions they get if they are going into work.

The source also added that “people who want to get on in life will go into the office because that’s how people are going to succeed”.

Dave Penman, general secretary of the FDA civil service union, called these remarks “insulting” and stated that ministers and politicians are “out of touch with modern working practices”.

Contrastingly, this comes as the Department for Health and Social Care recently scrapped plans for staff to return to offices in September.

Although initially expected to come into the office between four and eight days a month, staff within this department have now been told plans to remove full-time remote working have been tabled.

Business Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, has also vehemently denied that civil servants who choose to work from home will be subject to lesser pay. He stated:

I don’t know who it was [who spoke to the Daily Mail]. I think people working from home are contributing hugely to the workforce.

I think flexible working is something that is here to stay. It’s up to employers and employees to come to their own arrangements, depending on the needs of the company, the needs of the business.

I don’t think it makes sense to have a government diktat telling people exactly how many hours they’re going to spend in the office and exactly how many hours they’re going spend at home.

 Alan Price, CEO at BrightHR, advised against docking workers’ pay in light of their choice to work from home:

It may seem logical to pay staff differently if their place of work changes, especially if there are no added concerns around commuting. However, the way this issue should be approached depends heavily on the work that will be undertaken by the employee and if they will be working full-time or part-time.

It is not advisable that employers pay staff less for working from home permanently, even on a hybrid basis, if their role will remain the same as when they were fully office-based – unless the employee agrees to it or their employment contract stipulates that such a thing can be done.

This is because reducing pay due to a change in where an employee’s work is being carried out may be classed as unlawful deduction from wages if the individual is:

  • Working the same number of hours
  • Receiving the same amount of workload, and
  • Held under the same obligations as when they were in the office.

It is important that employers check their employees’ contracts before making any changes.