PIPSC reminds Treasury Board to prioritize health and safety in return to workplace plans

With the triple threat of influenza, COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) filling emergency rooms and childrens’ hospitals throughout the country, PIPSC is reminding the Treasury Board to prioritize the health and safety of its workers. 

Last week, the Ottawa Citizen and Policy Options reported on plans to roll out a “one-size-fits-all” approach to return federal public servants to their offices. This news came despite current public health concerns and previous commitments to continue consulting with unions and implement tailored plans for each department.

As one of the Treasury Board’s largest bargaining agents, we were surprised to hear rumours that the Treasury Board was potentially bulldozing ahead with a one-size-fits-all plan for returning our members to their workplaces. The speculation was that a mandate of 2–3 days of in-office work would be required for all federal public service employees. 

The Treasury Board has since confirmed that no announcement is forthcoming. Nevertheless, it is concerning as it appears they were considering this approach and it is not clear what their longer term plans are. 

PIPSC has been following the issue closely and continues to solicit feedback from members on what they would like to see in a return to workplace plan. They have also emphasized that any policy that forces them to attend work in-person for a prescribed number of days should have a clear purpose. Many PIPSC members are also concerned about their health and safety and that adequate space is not there to accommodate a mass back to work order.

In addition to health and safety concerns, remote work has been identified by our membership as a key issue to negotiate in the current and upcoming rounds of bargaining. PIPSC has proposals in respect of this issue, and fully expects the Treasury Board and other employers to engage in collective bargaining on the issue. 

Our members have proven throughout the past two-and-a-half years that they can and will continue to be productive and engaged while working safely from home. PIPSC is continuing to advocate for safe, flexible return to workplace policies for all members. 

Members who are required to return to the workplace and who have concerns, should visit this webpage for more information. Members with workplace-specific concerns should connect with a steward and/or their workplace health and safety committee.