Canada Tightens Hybrid Work Policy for Federal Workers

Canada Tightens Hybrid Work Policy for Federal Workers

The Canadian government has announced a new “common hybrid workplace policy” for workers in all federal departments, telling them to expect to spend 40% to 60% of their working hours in a formal office setting by March 31, 2023 at the latest.

Mona Fortier, president of the Treasury Board of Canada and minister who announced the new government policy, said the RTO requirement is needed to create consistency in the working patterns of all federal departments.

“We need consistency in the use of hybrid work across the federal government. This will support our goal: to serve Canadians,” said Fortier.

The government has been pushed back from two directions, as government employees have been in no rush to return to federal offices: business leaders who have complained that the government is lagging behind private companies’ RTO efforts, and public sector union leaders who are calling for help in implementation to be consulted on the government’s hybrid labor policy.

Last month, in an open letter from business leaders to Fortier, the government was chastised for being “significantly behind” in luring government employees back into their offices.

The letter, signed by 32 business organizations including the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the Business Council of Canada, says the government – Canada’s largest single employer – has set a bad example with a patchwork of RTO policies when it should be leading Effort.

“As businesses in these communities assess their long-term viability in light of the damaging impact of the pandemic on inner cities, restoring normal economic activity requires the federal government to act now,” the letter said.

The letter was a counterpoint to pressure unions are putting on the government to continue to show flexibility on remote work. Fortier is currently negotiating a new pay pact with federal employees — talks that have reached an impasse as workers led by the Public Service Alliance of Canada seek higher wages amid rising inflation, Bloomberg reported.

The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) had asked government agencies to develop their own plans separately in consultation with public sector unions.

According to the business leaders’ letter, the Ottawa-Gatineau region — the region in Canada with the highest concentration of federal employees — has the lowest return rate of any provincial capital in Canada.

According to industry estimates, between 70% and 75% of Ottawa’s private employers have regular staff back in their offices, which typically means about 55% presence in the spaces they use on any given day. In contrast, government-rented space was often less than 20% occupied.

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