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Revealed: gradual return to office up to March next year for civil servants under hybrid working plan

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Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Michael McGrath. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Michael McGrath. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Michael McGrath. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Civil servants could gradually return to the office up to March next year as new blended working arrangements are rolled out.

A new document says individual departments and offices will finalise and progressively roll out their long-term blended working policies and implementation plans from this September to March 2022.

The policy document on blended working says during this period, a gradual return to the office may begin.

This will be decided by each individual civil service organisation “having regard to their operational requirements”.

A Department of Public Expenditure and Reform spokesperson said that a gradual return would start from ­September.

She said all civil servants should have clarity on their blended working model by next March.


However, the new document says the pace of the transition will be dependent on public health advice and “the trajectory of the Covid-19 pandemic”.

It is understood that some staff could end up working mainly remotely.

Civil servants have largely been working fully remotely since the start of the Covid-19 crisis.

The Government has committed to implement 20pc remote or home working across the public service.

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The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform said in a statement that subject to changes to public health advice, some degree of remote working would  continue to be a feature for the civil service for the rest of the year.

Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Michael McGrath said the policy statement drawn up by a Civil Service Management Board charted a path forward.

He said it was an issue that would be hugely important for civil service employers and employees.

However, he said there was much detail yet to be worked through.

“The Covid-19 pandemic brought about a sudden and seismic change in working arrangements for everyone. Despite the challenges, civil servants have adapted swiftly and with great success to this new working environment and the requirement to work remotely,” he said.

“In doing so, their efforts have helped to ensure the continuity of key services to the public and business over the last year and a half.

“While the pandemic is not yet behind us, it is timely to consider what the future of the workplace looks like.”

He said his department was working on a framework document to create a consistent approach to blended working arrangements, and unions would be asked for their input.

According to a timeline published by the department for the roll-out of the plan, in September a detailed policy framework will be finalised.

There will be a possible gradual return to the office in line with public health advice between September and March next year.

At the same time, departments and offices will finalise and begin rolling out their blended working policies.

It says from April next year, all long-term departmental blended working policies should be finalised and rolled out.

Public service union Fórsa wants immediate dialogue on the plan.

General secretary Kevin Callinan said his union was ready to engage to reach agreement on the details.

He warned that the initiative should be capable of rapid roll-out across the entire public service, rather than being confined to Government departments and agencies.


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