PCS meets Cabinet Office to discuss Michael Gove's U-turn on homeworking

22 Sep 2020

In a series of broadcast interviews this morning, the Cabinet Office minister appeared to make a U-turn on the government’s insistence that 80% of civil servants should go back to the office.  

Asked on BBC Breakfast TV whether the position from July that people should start going back to work if they can, is still government policy, Mr Gove responded: “No.” 

He continued: “There are some people who cannot work from home and we are clear that in Covid secure, safe workplace, if your job requires it, you should absolutely be in that workplace. But if you can work from home, then that is something we support.” 

Mr Gove went on to deny it was a U-turn, saying it was a response to rising infection rates.  

PCS has always believed that if members can do their job from home, then that was the safest way to work during this global pandemic.

Many PCS members have also been in the workplace, in offices, working at our borders and in our prisons, keeping society functioning during the Covid crisis. 

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka has now met with Cabinet Office permanent secretary Alex Chisholm.

In the meeting, PCS stressed the importance of safe working. 

New guidance will be issued in due course to civil servants taking account of the changed situation. 

The union wlll have further talks and more information will be made available then.

In the meantime, PCS is clear that people should work at home if they can, until government gets control of virus. 

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “Our union which was vilified in certain sections of the media, for standing up for the safety of civil servants has been vindicated by this government U-turn.

“We have been telling government for weeks that lessons from other countries meant forced return to workplaces in the civil service was reckless and wrong. 

“Following the latest official scientific advice pointing to a second spike of Covid-19 infections over winter, it is clear if people can work from home, they should do, until the government has got control of the virus.”

In advance of the meeting, Mark wrote to Mr Chisholm setting out the union's concerns that need addressing. 

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