Federal workers reluctantly begin mandatory return to office today

Jan 16 2023, 7:06 pm

Canada’s federal workers have officially started going into their physical workplaces in accordance with the government’s return-to-office plan.

The plan kicked in on Monday, January 16, and will require those working from home to be at the office at least two to three days each week.

Many Canadians are breathing a sigh of relief about being able to access federal services more readily, but it comes at a cost to government workers.

The decision has received a majority of negative reactions from federal workers.

Some might be pumped to jump back into office mode, but a majority of federal workers think this strategy has come too suddenly and can complicate and direly impact union negotiations.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) also notes that many workers don’t have office spaces. Government employees who are parents will have to look for reliable childcare and drop a significant amount of money on it. Plus, the commuting costs will add up quickly. PSAC also stresses that there is “no evidence” this approach will better teamwork.

“This policy is not based on facts and it disregards workers,” the Alliance said on Monday.

A survey held by PSAC last year noted that more than 80% of its members oppose the government’s hybrid work plan and are ready to take action to fight for their demands, which include fair wages, protections against discrimination at the workplace, and a better work-life balance, among others.

Many agree with the validity of these concerns.

Currently, Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) workers are threatening a strike against the return-to-office mandate after trying to negotiate with the government on remote work and wages. Voting on the strike will begin on January 31.

In a statement published on January 13, the CRA said that it filed an Unfair Labour Practice complaint with the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board against the PSAC – Union of Taxation Employees (PSAC-UTE) for “failing to observe its duty to bargain in good faith and duty to make every reasonable effort to enter into a collective agreement.”

“Enough is enough… We are at that point that we are absolutely fed up with all their games of waiting,” Marc Brière, the national president of the Union of Taxation Employees, told Daily Hive.

“If they don’t take us seriously, unfortunately, we will have no choice but to shut down the CRA on the first occasion, including the tax season.”

With files from Daily Hive’s Claire Fenton.


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