26 September 2023

CANADA: Workers in ‘chaotic’ hybrid return

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A union representing Federal Canadian Public Servants says hundreds of its members have asked for help navigating challenges posed by the Government’s return-to-the-office plan.

President of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC), Jennifer Carr said more than 1,100 members had reached out to the union with various concerns about the plan, which mandates Federal employees return to office work on at least two days a week.

“As we feared, we are now living with the logistical nightmares created by this hastily-implemented return-to-office policy,” Ms Carr (pictured) said.

“Many Departments and Agencies were wholly unprepared for the practical realities involved in this Government order.”

The Government instituted its new hybrid work model across the Public Service last month, requiring employees to work in the office two or three days a week.

Many employees had been working remotely since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The shift is happening gradually, with all Departments required to have the new hybrid work model in place by the end of March.

Public sector unions have strongly opposed the plan, calling it a one-size-fits-all approach and saying it is adversely affecting productivity.

“We have people who are rightly concerned that their productivity is going down; they are less efficient and less productive in an open environment and they are not seeing the return they want to give to Canadians by doing their best and their most effective work,” Ms Carr said.

She said one key issue is that many Federal employees no longer have dedicated offices to which they can return.

“Some workers have no desks to work on, or lack proper equipment when they arrive at the office,” the union President said.

“The way the Government has rolled out the mandate is creating chaos,” she said.

“I have been telling the Treasury Board that we want to be at the table, we want to address some of these issues because they want a consistent return to office, but they left the logistics up to each Department and each Agency and that is creating a logistical nightmare.”

Ms Carr said there was not enough space with some Departments losing complete buildings or floors “so how do we return everybody back to a safe work environment where they can do the work on behalf of Canadians?”

Ottawa, 22 February 2023

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