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Jacob Rees-Mogg has been criticised for leaving "crass, demeaning" notes on the empty desks of civil servants urging them to return to the office.

The government efficiency minister has recently called for the "rapid return" of civil servants to their desks in Whitehall now COVID restrictions have ended.

In notes left for civil servants, he wrote: "Sorry you were out when I visited.

"I look forward to seeing you in the office very soon."

Sky News understands Mr Rees-Mogg’s department, the Cabinet Office, was completely empty when he left the notes.

He is said to consider it very important for the taxpayer to see that the government is working properly and the Whitehall estate is well used.

Dave Penman, the head of the civil servants’ union FDA, said Mr Rees-Mogg was "virtue signalling to his political base" and in doing so damaging the morale of civil servants.

Mr Penman told Sky News: "That a minister would think it appropriate to leave such crass, demeaning notes for civil servants is testament to just how disconnected Jacob Rees-Mogg is from the business of government.

"With every pronouncement and display like this, he demonstrates that he has no clue how the modern workplace operates and cares little about the effective delivery of vital public services.

"Instead, he’s intent on virtue signalling to his political base, and is either oblivious to or simply doesn’t care about the damage he’s doing to the morale of civil servants and the reputation of the civil service as an employer."

Mr Penman added: "Ministers should care about what is being delivered by the civil service, not where someone sits at a particular point in the day.

"It’s time Rees-Mogg’s cabinet colleagues stood up for the staff in their departments and ended the harmful culture war that’s being waged on the very people tasked with delivering the government’s agenda."

Labour’s deputy leader, Angela Rayner, tweeted: "Hasn’t Jacob Rees-Mogg got more important thing to be doing than pottering around leaving creepy notes for public servants? We’re not in the 18th Century now."

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Earlier this month, Mr Rees-Mogg wrote to all secretaries of state arguing that ending working from home now COVID restrictions have been scrapped would bring the benefits of "face-to-face collaborative working".

He also sent ministers a league table showing which departments had been sending staff into the office most, with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) at the top, and the Department for Education at the bottom.

The league table showed how many employees from each department were going into the office on an average day during the week beginning 4 April.

At the Department for Education, 25% were going in, on average, while the rest worked remotely, with the Department for Work and Pensions at 27% and the Foreign Office at 31%.

The DTI had 73% in the office, followed by the Department of Health at 72%, and Mr Rees-Mogg’s department, the Cabinet Office, at 69%.

© Sky News 2022