No more work from home: Mayor Parker issues return-to-office order for thousands of city employees

It’s the end of the pandemic-era policy that allowed thousands of Philadelphia city employees to work from home for at least part of their workweek.

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Cherelle Parker speaking at a podium

Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle Parker announced that city workers must return to the office five days a week starting July 15. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

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“I have notified all workers that they will be transitioning to full-time in-office work effective July 15, 2024.”

That’s the message Mayor Cherelle Parker delivered at a City Hall announcement Monday morning, effectively ordering an end to the city’s hybrid work program.

“Employee presence at the workplace allows for more personal and productive interaction, it facilitates communication, it promotes social connections along with collaboration, innovation and inclusion,” she said.

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Parker said the move would make city workers more accessible to city residents.

The return-to-office policy for all workers started back in March, when Parker ordered top city leaders back to the office full-time. Those top workers included people who report directly to the mayor, cabinet members, commissioners, directors and deputy directors.

At that time, local union leaders representing municipal workers told WHYY News partner 6abc that if they were called back to the office, they could seek remote work elsewhere.

No union leaders joined Parker for today’s announcement, fueling speculation that they could oppose the move.

Parker said she does not believe that working from home is something that is subject to union negotiations.

“I as mayor of the City of Philadelphia do not believe that the return to work full-time, in-person is bargainable.”

Parker has previously said that in-office work would increase worker productivity. But research, including a recent federal report, does not necessarily support that conclusion.

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According to the city, about 80% of city employees have already returned to work in person. The remaining 20% spend 31 hours out of every 75-hour pay period, or two weeks, working in person.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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