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Departmental Conditions of Employment

Volume 481: debated on Tuesday 21 October 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will place in the Library a copy of his Department's rest and recuperation leave policy for civilians working in operational theatres. (226984)

This policy is not set out in a single document or booklet.

We take very seriously the health and welfare of our staff and recognise the special pressures that deployment to an ‘operational theatre’ can bring. All Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) staff serving in Afghanistan and Iraq undergo a range of health checks, both physical and psychological, before, during and after their deployments. We review this process regularly to ensure that it complies with clinical best practice. We also have our own medical teams in Iraq and Afghanistan to provide primary medical care and pastoral support to staff.

In addition we require staff to take regular decompression breaks (of 10 to 14 days) outside of the operational theatre after every six to seven weeks in Afghanistan or Iraq. At the end of each tour of duty (6 to 12 months in Iraq and Helmand; 12 to 18 months in Kabul) we encourage staff to take an extended break, using leave accumulated before and during their posting, before they move to another job.