26 September 2023

CANADA: No set penalties for home workers

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The Canadian Federal Government is to deal with penalties for Public Servants who refuse to return to in-person work on a case-by-case basis.

Under new regulations, all Federal employees who are still working from home must begin the transition back to in-person work.

President of the Treasury Board, Mona Fortier announced in December that all Departments must bring workers back to the office at least two-to-three times a week by the end of March.

“Those that do not comply by the end of March, management will (decide) if they face disciplinary measures or not, but each situation will be assessed case-by-case,” Ms Fortier (pictured) said.

She said the return-to-office plan was needed because of “inconsistencies” in remote work policies across Federal Departments.

However, Ms Fortier would not clarify what those inconsistencies were.

National President of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), Chris Aylward said people were willing to return to the office if they received a clear answer as to why it was necessary.

Mr Aylward said he regularly heard from members about their struggles to secure childcare and their reluctance to spend hours of their day commuting if they were able to work productively from home.

“The Government (needs) to stop this right now and to come to the bargaining table so that we can negotiate this; get it into the collective agreement, so that our members’ rights are protected,” Mr Aylward, whose union represents 165,000 Federal Public Servants, said.

However, talks on a new agreement are not going well with the Government filing a complaint with the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board against the PSAC, claiming it was breaching its duty to bargain in good faith.

The complaint stated that from the start of negotiations in June 2021, the PSAC had “flooded the bargaining tables with costly proposals — over 500 across its five bargaining units”.

“At the same time, it has refused to prioritise these requests, refused to move on its initial proposals, and did not respond to the employer’s comprehensive offers,” the Government said.

Ottawa, 14 January 2023

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