Scottish Government prompt outrage after handing staff ‘wellbeing hour’ to chill out DURING the working week
- Allowing staff time off said to help improve their ‘mental and physical wellbeing’
It is a luxury most employees might struggle to squeeze into their busy working weeks.
But the Scottish Government has decided to allow its own civil servants to stop working during a weekly ‘wellbeing hour’.
Officials say allowing staff to take time away from their desks every week will help improve their ‘mental and physical wellbeing’.
The ‘health and wellbeing hour’ will allow staff to take an extra 60 minutes off per week, either in one go or split up over several days.
The policy, which has been trialled since July, allows civil servants extra time free to spend on activities to improve their health.
the Scottish Government has decided to allow its own civil servants to stop working during a weekly ‘wellbeing hour’ (Stock image)
Officials say allowing staff to take time away from their desks every week will help improve their ‘mental and physical wellbeing’ (Stock image)
Critics claim the huge build-up of unworked hours is likely to cost the taxpayer millions of pounds a year.
Scottish Tory business spokesman Murdo Fraser said: ‘When all government budgets and resources are being squeezed, the public will question whether it is affordable and whether it ought to be a priority.’
READ MORE: Civil servants refuse to return to offices because of noisy colleagues – and claim cacophony of loud talkers is ‘overwhelming’
The trial is for permanent staff, who are not senior, and also excludes some quangos and agencies.
It has been estimated that giving Scotland’s ballooning civil service an additional break could amount to approximately 400,000 hours a year – the equivalent of more than 200 full-time staff.
The cost in unworked hours may run into millions, although the figure is disputed by the Scottish Government.
John O’Connell of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘Taxpayers are fed up with paying more for less.
‘While ministers squeeze ever more tax out of pay packets, bureaucrats are being granted a siesta. The Scottish Government should put a stop to this.’
The cost to taxpayers of Scotland’s soaring number of civil servants has risen from an estimated salary bill of £1.010billion in 2016 to £1.623billion this year.
The number employed by the central government and its quangos rose by 24 per cent over the same period, from 43,050 to 53,495.
Scottish Tory business spokesman Murdo Fraser said the public will question whether the scheme ‘is affordable and whether it ought to be a priority’
SNP ministers are already facing a £1billion hole in public finances, while hundreds of thousands of Scots are on waiting lists for public services such as the NHS and court system.
The Scottish Government has claimed granting extra time off should not have an impact on how much work gets done, but has not explained how it expects this to be achieved.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: ‘The Scottish Government is piloting a wellbeing hour scheme to support employees’ physical and mental health and to evaluate the impact on staff productivity.
‘The pilot has been designed so there is no extra cost and no reduction in productivity or service levels.’
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