The move – which raises the prospect of public sector staff going on strike if they are not allowed to work from abroad – puts them on a direct collision course with ministers, who are insisting on a return to the office now that Covid restrictions are long gone .
The Telegraph understands that ministers will reject any attempt by the union to push the boundaries of working from home.
Dave Penman, the general secretary of the FDA, launched a direct attack on Mr Rees-Mogg at the union’s annual delegate conference, accusing him of “Orwellian” behavior after he left notes on workers’ desks noting their absence from the office.
He said: “This culture war against the Civil Service has to stop … you do your job and let the management of the Civil Service get on with theirs.”
But Mr Rees-Mogg dismissed the latest demands, suggesting they did a disservice to rank and file civil servants who are trying to get on with their jobs.
He told The Telegraph: “The extreme nature of this motion gives the game away. It undermines the many hardworking civil servants by creating the false impression that they want to be as lazy as their union leaders.”
A series of motions passed by the FDA conference amounted to a manifesto for home working, in direct contradiction of government policy.
‘Work is no longer a place’
The union’s official stance is now that “work is no longer a place, but what is done”, and that it will “resist indiscriminate demands from the Government for civil servants’ return to office-based working”.
Its members also agreed that “individuals are best placed to decide how and where they work and that blanket rules about office attendance at any level are inappropriate”, meaning that the union believes each worker should be free to set their own rules.
They advocate a “place neutral” approach to working, where there would be no “arbitrary” assumption that anyone should work from an office.
But it is the demands on working from abroad that will raise the hackles of ministers, who have tried to ban staff from doing so.
A motion passed at the conference states: “The option available to civil servants to work overseas for defined periods for personal reasons brings significant benefits in terms of flexibility and productivity and complements the wider impetus within the civil service towards greater flexibility over working location.”