Civil servants have been told they can work abroad for two weeks every year while visiting friends and family, according to new "bonkers" proposals.
Staff at the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (Desnz) are among those who can apply to the scheme which has sparked concerns that some will log on “from the beach”.
Chiefs have repeatedly called for employees to be allowed to work overseas “for personal reasons” rather than taking annual leave.
The senior civil servants’ FDA union argues that many of its members have connections outside the UK and should be allowed to undergo “international remote working” for the benefit of their “family life”.
Chiefs have repeatedly called for employees to be allowed to work overseas 'for personal reasons' rather than taking annual leave
Sources say the new plans allow staff to work away from home for up to five days at a time.
But the decision comes months after ministers opposed plans to let civil servants work from abroad.
Some departments have reportedly struggled to recruit people with the required level of expertise, due to other sectors offering higher wages and more flexibility.
It isn't clear how the rules will work in practice with insiders suggesting applications would be subject to “stringent legal and security requirements”.
"Hard-pressed taxpayers will be raising eyebrows across the country at the thought of civil servants kicking back, sipping cocktails on the beach whilst delivering public services," Greg Smith, Tory MP for Buckingham told the Telegraph.
"We need civil servants in Whitehall, in their offices, delivering on the priorities of this Government, not saying they’re working, from the beach – we all know the reality of that. Just doing your day job from the beach is preposterous."
Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative leader, added: “This is absolutely stark raving bonkers. I’ve never heard something more idiotic, stupid and pointless for a long, long time.
"Working from overseas? I mean really? By the beach perhaps? In the sea? On a holiday? Really? If the Civil Service chiefs think that is sensible, then we need a complete clearout.
Sources say the new plans allow staff to work away from home for up to five days at a time
"You’ve got to ask yourself, of course, it’s not their money, it’s the taxpayers’ money, so they don’t care. Just bonkers.”
Just days before, the Cabinet Office told senior managers to work from the office more than 60 per cent of the time to promote “strong visible leadership” to junior staff and boost productivity.
A government spokesman said that civil servants are “not allowed to work remotely overseas unless there are exceptional circumstances” adding that “we have always been clear on the benefits of collaborative face-to-face working”.