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Public sector workers could be made to work longer

Plans to extend hours for public sector employees have been revealed in leaked Cabinet Office documents. A review will examine the terms and conditions of employment and consider how jobs can be made more like the private sector.

The documents, seen by the Guardian, cover the possibility of cutting holidays, lengthening working weeks and reducing flexible working for 450,000 employees below the level of senior civil servants.

Other aspects of employment under review include sick pay, ability to more from one job to another, probationary periods, travel and expenses, whistleblowing, apprenticeships, advances of pay, weekend working and relocation fees.

The review is expected to be completed by the end of the year, with the aim to deliver reform over two years starting in April 2013.

The letter reads: “The civil service reform plan states that each department will undertake a review of their terms and conditions. Your review should ensure that your department, and collectively the civil service, continues to be a good employer, offering terms and conditions comparable with, but not beyond what a good modern employer would provide.

“This is our opportunity to tackle those terms and conditions where we have been less responsive in the past as well as those that have left the civil service open to caricature.

“One feature of your review of terms and conditions should be to promote greater mobility. This will open up opportunities for employees to develop and build expertise. We wish to offer terms that reflect best practice in the private sector rather than the average.

“These lists are not definitive, and departments should include any terms and conditions, policies and practices or pay-related terms deemed relevant.”

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union, said: “An imposed pay freeze, and cuts to pensions and redundancy terms, the Cabinet Office now wants to undermine some very basic working conditions that any decent employer should offer.”

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