Return to offices in March for public servants in two major federal agencies

By Jackson Graham

February 23, 2022

man putting on his shoes
Federal agencies are starting to return staff to offices gradually. (Halfpoint/Adobe)

Federal agencies are starting to return staff to offices gradually, as health restrictions allow many public servants back into their normal workplaces for the first time this year. 

Some agencies anticipate giving staff a week’s notice, others two weeks’ notice, and some are continuing with plans for the transition to occur in March. 

The Department of Home Affairs on Monday told all staff not already in offices performing essential roles in the ACT, NSW and South Australia that they could choose to work from the office at their discretion this week. 

All Home Affairs staff in those states and territories will begin transitioning back to their usual place of work starting from Monday February 28, with staff given two weeks to make the shift. 

“The Department’s return to working from work in other states and territories will be consistent with the guidance provided through the relevant state or territory government public health orders and advice,” a Home Affairs spokesperson said. 

The department will offer working from home for a portion of the working week for staff eligible to apply for flexible arrangements. 

The Australian Taxation Office is sticking to plans to review working arrangements in late February, with a spokesperson saying they anticipated hybrid working arrangements over the March period. 

“A further update to our staff is expected imminently,” the spokesperson said. “Building on our experience of the last two years the ATO has committed to broader use of hybrid working as an ongoing approach.” 

The agency is expecting full-time staff, whose managers agree to offer hybrid working arrangements, will be in the office for at least three days. It cites high engagement levels in the 2021 APS census as a vote in confidence from staff being offered flexible working arrangements. 

“A pro-rata system is available for part-time staff. We will continue to evaluate and refine our approach over time to ensure our arrangements are meeting the needs and expectations of the community, government and our staff,” the ATO’s spokesperson said. 

The ATO also flags “well-researched benefits to office attendance” including for communication and learning, incidental interactions between teams and individuals for innovation, supporting new team members. 

The agency also highlighted office-based work helps employers identify health and wellbeing concerns of staff, reducing the risk of isolation and assisting with barriers between work and home life.

“We also expect our return to the office will go towards supporting the local communities and businesses whom we serve,” the spokesperson said.


Gates open for public servants to return to offices

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