asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether staff of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs may attend activities connected with staff networks in work time; whether they may claim expenses for so doing; how many such networks each member of staff may join; and what is the name and remit of each network.
Defra fully supports the work of all our staff networks. Successful, business-focused staff networks are essential to the successful delivery of our diversity action plans. At a corporate level they work with the diversity team to represent the views of staff in their diversity strand and to drive forward progress on our diversity strategy.
Part of this support includes allowing staff to attend network events in work time. Each staff network is allocated an annual budget. They agree with their committees how much money is assigned to support agreed events. All networks have to produce business plans which detail their expenditure (this excludes their members travel costs). Staff can join a network of their choice.
Defra has four networks:the Ethnic Minority Network—(for black and minority ethnic staff);DisNet—the Disability Network;Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Network; andWork-life balance Network
Defra, alongside many other government departments recognises that staff networks are instrumental not only in providing a forum for mutual support, but also in advising on corporate and departmental functions, policies and practices.