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As you may have heard, Treasury Board announced this afternoon that all core federal public servants will need to report to the office a minimum of two to three days per week, or 40 to 60% of the time physically in the workplace. The directive takes effect on January 16, 2023, and will be fully implemented no later than March 31, 2023. Exceptions will only be made for accommodation requirements and on a case-by-case basis.
ACFO-ACAF is opposed to any mandated return to the office that takes flexibility away from employees and their managers. We are also concerned this measure was taken without consultation and without the Employer having conducted a GBA+ analysis to consider how this will disproportionally impact women and those with family dependents.
Remote work has kept our members and their families safe—this mandated minimum is counterproductive, puts members at unnecessary risk during a pandemic while vaccines and masking are no longer required, and will exacerbate already critical recruitment and retention issues in our community.
However, we are also concerned about misinformation in the media from other unions leading employees to believe that remote work is a right from the collective agreement. No collective agreement in the public service includes a right to remote work. Beyond a valid telework agreement (which can be terminated and are not indeterminate) or an accommodation, the Employer is within their rights to call employees back to the office.
Despite this, we have already triggered our recently negotiated letter of agreement around hybrid work to meaningfully consult with the Employer, as securing the option for full-time telework is now our top priority at ACFO-ACAF. Members have proven they can work at full capacity from home—therefore, we understand your anger and frustration about this announcement, and you have the right to feel unsafe about returning to the workplace.
More information will be shared with our members as it becomes available, including an FAQ. In the meantime, should you have any questions, particularly if you believe you require a telework accommodation, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.