It’s a growing situation: public servants becoming increasingly frustrated and vocal over the pressure and rush to put in place telework agreements for forced hybrid work arrangements.
But where is the pressure and rush coming from?
Clerk faces criticism
Public servants and the media have been largely attributing the Clerk as the reason for the pressure, who asked deputy heads to experiment with hybrid scenarios earlier this summer so they could be implemented in the fall.
As a result, deputies have been putting pressure on employees to put in place telework agreements for hybrid work arrangements and have taken this to mean that there must be mandatory minimum days spent in the physical office per week for each employee, all the while without meaningful consultation and input from public servants.
Meanwhile unions have been vocal in the media about their disagreement that this has been rushed and they haven’t been consulted, and top doctors such as the medical officer for the City of Ottawa reiterating that we are in a 7th wave of COVID-19, key indicators are on the rise, and it’s time to take this wave seriously.
Public servants react
Through all of this, public servants have said they do not feel safe.
In an open letter published to their employer last week, they asked that a hybrid arrangement not be imposed on all public servants but rather let each employee, “in discussion with their respective managers, choose the work configuration that best suits their work objectives.”
Support for the letter has garnered over 3,500 signatures in mere days.
Calls for the Clerk to clarify
In discussion threads on social media over the weekend, public servants asked the Clerk to clarify their comments to deputies in writing and ease the pressure to hastily put in place forced hybrid arrangements for the fall which is only weeks away.
They also pointed out contradictions in the Clerk’s messaging between their last annual report on the public service which frequently referenced the unprecedented productivity of public servants throughout the pandemic, working “tirelessly” and “sacrificially” but yet the Clerk has been in a rush to get public servants back into the workplace arguably for optics over facts and meaningful consultations and input from public servants.
“The pandemic has provided insights into the future of how we could work. We can achieve permanent and productive change, if we are determined to identify and exploit those insights. A big question going forward is which practices will we decide to keep and which will we return to. As the pressure eases, and in time it will, the natural inclination will be to “snap back” to our previous state. That should not happen.”Clerk of the Privy Council, 28th Annual Report to the Prime Minister on the Public Service
IRCC reportedly puts hybrid on hold
Over the weekend, public servants have been posting online that some groups at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) were reportedly informed recently that hybrid return to workplace plans have been put on hold following concerns from public servants.
Public servants commended IRCC for its leadership and wondered if other departments will soon follow suit.
Sign the letter
For those who may be interested, the letter can be signed here.
The letter does not ask for anyone to identify themselves, only a confirmation that they are an employee of the Government of Canada and that they support the letter.
GoC Together also invites public servants to share their stories around return to the workplace with them.