Revealed: Civil Servants allowed to take their own time off

The Telegraph and the Daily Mail have both published stories over the last couple of days which use misleading headlines to misrepresent flexi-time arrangements in the Civil Service.

The stories themselves contradict their own headlines:

The Telegraph: Revealed: Civil servants get extra three days holiday if they work over 36 hours a week

The Daily Mail: Civil servants’ new ‘flexitime’ means they can take THIRTY SIX days extra holiday a year if they stay at their desks until 6pm and have a short lunch break

Both make reference to extra ‘holiday’ but, as the stories themselves reveal, this is actually time which workers have ‘banked’ through their flexi-time arrangements. The stories appear to be part of the ongoing attack on the public sector, and the civil service in particular, from both the mainstream media and our government. They even resort to the tired old trick of referring to the civil service as ‘Whitehall’, presumably hoping to perpetuate the myth that we’re all living in a Yes, Minister world, ignoring the tens of thousands of low-waged call centre staff, processing office staff and counter staff working in offices across Britain to provide essential services.

A few flexi-time facts

  • Flexi-time allows people to build up time by working longer hours than their normal day. The Telegraph says:

Details of the “flexitime” arrangements are contained in leaked Whitehall documents that lay bare the generous nature of the taxpayer-funded contracts.

The tax payer is funding the same amount of hours the tax payer would have funded anyway. A 37 hour working  week is still 37 hour working week. There are no extra holidays involved.

  • Flexi-time helps cut down on congestion during rush hour(s) by reducing the amount of people trying to get to the same place at the same time.
  • Flexi-time makes it easier for people with caring responsibilities to work. This is especially important at a time when local day centres etc. are closing. As a result it contributes to reducing the benefit bill.
  • Flexi-time reduces sick leave.
  • Many private sector employers offer flexi-time arrangements. If anything the Mail and Telegraph should be supporting their readers by campaigning to increase its use in the private sector, not to reduce its use in the public sector.

This is just the latest in a long list of misinformed attacks on public sector workers which can only serve to drive a divide between public and private sector at a time when we need to be united.

Don’t fall for it.

About: Dave Plummer

Public sector worker, PCS rep, Branch Organiser with PCS R&C Euston Tower Branch, and general branch communications person. Known to strum a guitar on occasion. Member of PCS Left Unity and the Green Party.

One single comment

  1. flexible friend says:

    The Telegraph article is amazing for the bit about Steve Hiltons vision – “the Prime Minister’s former director of implementation, suggested that the size of the Civil Service could be cut by 70 per cent”.

    I suspect sloppy journalism here and they mean reduced ‘to’ 70% of current size. Reducing to 30% is too dangerously nut-job for the coalition to consider. Or is it?

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