PIPSC files complaint over return-to-office policy

'The CRA's about-face subverts what has already been accomplished at the table and delays or even prevents the conclusion of an agreement'

PIPSC files complaint over return-to-office policy

The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) has filed an official bad faith bargaining complaint against the Canada Revenue Agency for imposing a blanket return-to-office policy.

The move is a complete “about-face” on telework which has been on the table since October 2022, according to the union. Telework has been established as a top priority for Audit Financial and Scientific (AFS) Group members under PIPSC.

However, at the Jan. 17-19, 2023 bargaining meeting, the CRA said it no longer had any intention of including any telework language in the collective agreement, said PIPSC.

"You cannot just remove a core issue from the table – which has been established as a top priority for members – and call it anything other than a bad faith maneuver," said Jennifer Carr, PIPSC president.

"The CRA's about-face subverts what has already been accomplished at the table and delays or even prevents the conclusion of an agreement. Keep in mind this is the same government that promised a new era of collaboration with members of the public service – but has chosen again to shut the door on negotiating, in favour of imposing a wildly unpopular edict."

After talks about remote work and wages broke down, 35,000 CRA employees held strike votes at the end of January.

‘One-size-fits-all’

Currently, the CRA expects all of its employees to return to the office for two days a week. This is the case even though AFS members have been doing telework on a mostly full-time basis “safely and productively since March 2020”.

The union claimed the CRA's edict mimics the Treasury Board's December directive – a "one-size-fits-all" approach to telework that PIPSC has opposed since it was announced.

The Treasury Board required workers in core public administration to be on site at least two to three days each week, or 40% to 60% of their regular schedule. PIPSC also opposed that move.

"From the beginning, we've been clear that bulldozing through a directive like this in the middle of bargaining doesn't bode well for good faith negotiations, and will cause more problems than it solves," said Carr. "The proof is now in the pudding. We are looking to the government to stop barreling towards an unnecessary confrontation and bring this issue back to the table, where it belongs."

When it comes to recalling your employees to the office, there’s no “one-size-fits-all” approach, leading HR consultant Janet Candido previously told HRD.

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