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Federal public servants to start returning to office next month with hybrid system

Employees subject to a ‘phased introduction’ of the return-to-office plan starting Jan. 16
President of the Treasury Board Mona Fortier makes an announcement on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022. Fortier will be announcing a return-to-office plan for federal public servants today. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Treasury Board President Mona Fortier is announcing today that federal public servants will have to return to in-person office work two to three days per week.

A Treasury Board document explaining the change says that hybrid work is here to stay, and the government is neither returning to a traditional model nor continuing with the one imposed by the pandemic.

Employees across all departments in the core public service will be subject to a “phased introduction” of the return-to-office plan starting Jan. 16.

The plan would be fully implemented by the end of March 2023 and would see employees spending 40 to 60 per cent of their time at the office.

The Treasury Board, which oversees the administration of the public service, is also encouraging federal agencies to follow suit.

Departments were able to make their own decisions about hybrid models until now, but the document says that there must be consistency for the decisions to be fair and equitable.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada said in a statement last week that a return-to-office order would be an “egregious violation of workers’ collective bargaining rights.”

Chris Aylward, its national president, said earlier this week that the union will continue to bargain for the rights of its employees should a mandate be announced.

Accommodation requests will be assessed by each department on a case-by-case basis, the Treasury Board document says.

It lists several possible exceptions to the hybrid model, including for people who were hired to work remotely prior to March 16, 2020, Indigenous employees whose location is critical to their identity and workers who were already subject to different arrangements that pre-existed COVID-19.

—Cindy Tran, The Canadian Press

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