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Philadelphia requires all full-time city employees to return to the office

Philadelphia has ordered all city employees to return to their offices starting July 15 if they have full-time jobs.

Mayor Cherelle Parker made the announcement Monday, saying she wants to create a more visible and accessible government. The decision ends the city’s virtual work policy implemented in 2021 and essentially returns employees to pre-pandemic scheduling.

“Employee presence in the workplace creates more personal and productive interactions,” said Parker, who took office in January. “It facilitates communication. It promotes social connections, but also collaboration, innovation and inclusivity.”

Parker said about 80% of the city’s 26,000 employees have been working entirely on-site as of last year, with the remainder working between 31 and 75 hours per pay period on-site.

The decision drew sharp criticism from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 2187, which represents many of the city’s professional and supervisory employees. It said the decision was imposed unilaterally rather than through collective bargaining.

In a statement issued Monday, local President David Wilson said the policy would worsen the municipal workforce shortages the city has suffered since the pandemic. He also said making the change during the summer, when children are out of school, will likely complicate schedules for parents.

“It has become clearer than ever that the mayor doesn’t care about her city employees,” Wilson said. “Her actions speak louder than words.”

Parker said her administration does not believe the new policy is subject to collective bargaining. She also noted that changes have been made to be more employee-friendly, such as extending paid parental leave from six to eight weeks and designating the Friday after Thanksgiving as a holiday. Officials have also said there will be relaxed restrictions on the use of sick leave to care for family members.

Business leaders welcomed the announcement, saying it will benefit workers and the vibrancy of Center City, downtown Philadelphia.