MOD civil servants deploy into Iraq and Afghanistan on a voluntary basis to provide specialist support to UK armed forces. They are required to work long hours, usually over a six-month period and in austere living and working conditions alongside their military counterparts where they are exposed to operational risk.
These living and working conditions are recognised through a system of taxable operational allowances:
Operational deployment allowance (ODA) takes into account the working and living conditions experienced in theatre. It is reviewed on a regular basis.
Operational working allowance (OWA) recognises the very long hours and additional duties undertaken by deployees in excess of their normally contracted employment. The minimum operational working week is 82 hours as opposed to the standard UK 37 hour week. Many work in excess of those hours.
The total sum payable to an individual will vary. It is dependent on both their grade and their location. The current maximum monthly allowance in Iraq is £8,250 before tax for a Band B civil servant based in Basra. In Afghanistan it is £8,000 before tax for an identically graded civil servant based in Lashkar Gah, Helmand province. By comparison a Band D civil servant in Basra and Lashkar Gah would be paid sums of £5,250 and £5,000 respectively.