City of Hamilton commits to remote work for municipal employees post-pandemic

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Published September 22, 2021 at 7:27 pm

Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger (left) stated Wednesday that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to lessons about how allowing remote work can improve city services. (File photo.)

The City of Hamilton has put a work-from-home policy for its employees in writing, perhaps allaying concerns among those who have come to like it since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared 18 months ago.

In a release on Wednesday (Sept. 22), the city described a [email protected] program that will accommodate more flexible working arrangements. The start date is open-ended since the pandemic is active. Eventually, he city will offer four main work models. Those will include office employees, home employees, hybrid employees and mobile-frontline employees.

About 20 per cent of the city’s workforce works from home. Essential and public-facing public-facing municipal service staff have returning to the workplace as services reopened to the public.

“As we look ahead and plan for a gradual return to work, ensuring the health and safety of our city staff, who provide us with services we all rely upon, is paramount,” Mayor Fred Eisenberger stated. “Exploring the benefits of a flexible work arrangement and how that looks for city employees is a prudent and responsible approach which also benefits taxpayers. There are ample learnings from the past 18 months that will help inform what a return to work process will look like.”

The start date for returning staff to the workplace will be based on reviews of the COVID-19 situation in Hamilton and advice from the local medical officer of health. The city’s release said there will be a minimum of four weeks’ notice to staff before [email protected] policy officially starts.

The entire 34-page report is available at hamilton.ca.

The city has passed a mandatory vaccine policy for employees, but only two-thirds provided proof of their vaccination status before a Sept. 15 deadline. However, 97 per cent of them had received the two doses that are necessary to greatly risk the chance of getting COVID-19 and subsequently spreading it or ending up in an intensive-care-unit bed.

The unjabbed who do not have an approved exemption are being required to attend a mandatory education session on the benefits of getting vaccinated. After that, they will have to provide proof of their first dose no later than Sept. 30, and proof of their second dose by Nov. 1.

And, after that, any city employee who is not fully vaccinated will be required to submit regular negative COVID-19 testing results.

Hamilton had 27 new reported cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, which is sixth-most among the 34 public health units in Ontario.

Nearly 72 per cent of the province’s new cases, 332 out of 463, are in people who are unvaccinated.

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