Office-working decisions ‘should be for individual managers’, shadow chancellor says

Reeves says she believes spending more time in the office is "good for productivity and morale"
Rachel Reeves. Photo: PA/Alamy

By Tevye Markson

10 Apr 2024

Labour’s shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves has said she wants to see “more people in the office, more of the time”, but added that decisions should be “for individual managers and their members of staff”.

“I personally think it is good for people to get back into the office, I think it's good for productivity and good for morale,” Reeves told ITV News.

But she added: “I think the individual managers need to have those conversations with their staff. It’s going to be different in different workplaces, and different workplaces have different needs and different levels of teamwork.”

Departments across government have begun introducing stricter office-attendance rules since November, when ministers ordered civil service leaders to “set and implement an expectation of increased office-based working". The civil service-wide guidance sets out that most civil servants should spend 60% of their working time working face-to-face with colleagues subject to estate capacity.

Strikes are already on the horizon at the Office for National Statistics, with its officials voting for walkouts last week over the organisation’s new 40% in-office mandate. Following the result, the PCS union said it had approached ONS to request urgent talks to resolve the dispute. PCS has also urged its members to vocalise their opposition to the policy.

Reeves's comments come as the next general election looms nearer, with Labour beginning to set out more of its plans for if it gets into power. Yesterday, the shadow chancellor said a Labour government would boost HMRC's headcount by 5,000 in a bif to tackle the tax gap.

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