Canadian business bosses tell government to get staff back to offices; China sees huge demand in state recruitment drive: management & workforce news in brief

By on 03/11/2022 | Updated on 03/11/2022
A picture of a set of tower blocks forming the shape of a Canadian maple leaf
Businesses could face criminal prohibitions and penalties if they attempt to obtain people’s data unlawfully under Bill C-27

Global Government Forum’s weekly digest of the news you need to know but might have missed.

Canadian businesses urge federal government to implement return-to-office policy

Canadian business leaders have told the federal government that public services suffering as a result of telework are negatively affecting the business community and that government employees should be asked to return to workplaces.

In a letter signed by 32 business associations late last month, executives raised concerns over government’s ability to engage private sector stakeholders through a policy of remote work. In urging a return to the office, business leaders also expressed doubts that virtual work could reasonably be expected to replace in-person meetings.

“We strongly urge the federal government to lead the way to a return to normal that will both foster economic growth and ensure that all Canadians receive the quality of public services that they have a right to expect,” the letter said.

According to data from Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, the federal public service sector employed over 319,000 in 2021, and the government has introduced a policy for officials to return to the office for some of the working week. However, this has faced opposition from public service unions, who have criticised the government’s hybrid work advice.

Read more: Canada’s hybrid work plan stokes discontent among public servants

Indian state of Odisha to introduce free civil service exam coaching for poor students

The Indian state of Odisha is to provide free coaching for the country’s rigorous civil service exam coaching in an effort to boost the chances for students from poor backgrounds to pass the test.

The proposal comes as part of a wider bid by the state’s department of higher education to improve the success rate of disadvantaged civil service candidates in the region, which lags behind others in getting students to pass the civil service exams – which requires a successful candidate sits for 32 hours of examination over a year-long period.

The coaching service is expected to take in around 100 students, each of whom will sit a common entrance test before being selected for free coaching. Eligibility criteria for the service includes having an annual family income of no more than one million Indian Rupee (US$12,080) in addition to being originally from the state of Odisha.

Candidates who succeed at the preliminary exam for the civil service will then go on to be trained for the main set of exams, after which they will attend an interview. Unsuccessful candidates in the programme will have the chance to sit mock tests for one more year.

Read more: India’s awkward journey to infrastructure privatisation

China’s civil service registration window ‘sees one job for every thousand applicants’

Registration for applicants to join China’s latest intake of civil servants has come to an end, with a record number of 37,100 positions to be filled in central government agencies in 2023.

Competition for popular positions means there are an estimated one thousand applicants for some sought after roles. According to a report by The Global Times, one position at a county tax bureau in China’s northwest Qinghai Province attracted around 1,300 candidates. This position was said to require a university degree or above, with high-level qualifications in mathematics and electronic information.

According to China’s National Civil Service Administration, recruitment requirements for this year’s intake specify “construction of grassroots workers and candidates’ political quality”.

The Chinese government has sought to lure more young people to apply for government work in recent years. Expansion in recruitment of new graduates this year makes the proportion of roles targeted at this group 67.4% of the total, the highest share in recent years.

Read more: Hong Kong to overhaul civil service code, says leader John Lee

US unions urge Congress to protect federal staff from Trump’s legacy on employment protections

Congressional leaders have been urged to pass a bill that would block future governments from resurrecting a Trump-era bid to strip career federal employees of their civil service protections, in a letter signed by nearly 50 unions and good government advocates.

In the letter, signatories pressed Congress to pass the Preventing a Patronage System bill before the end of the legislative session in December.

The bill was introduced earlier this year in response to an executive order signed by ex-president Trump in October 2020 which sought to move federal workers in policy-oriented roles to a new employment category called Schedule F.

Those who fell under this category would effectively be ‘at-will’ employees, meaning they could be disciplined or fired without due process and could not engage in collective bargaining. It also meant that new hires could be brought in without going through the civil service’s normal merit-based selection processes.

Donald Trump claimed that Schedule F would make it easier to rid the civil service of poor performers and improve bureaucrat accountability to tax-payers. However, critics said it was a bid by the former president to surround himself with political loyalists.

These included lifelong Republican and then Federal Salary Council chair Ron Sanders, who said it was an attempt “to replace apolitical expertise with political obeisance” and “make loyalty to [Trump] the litmus test for many thousands of career civil servants”. Sanders resigned in protest at the order.

Read more: Congress urged to prevent Trump bid to strip feds of HR protections

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About Jack Aldane

Jack is a British journalist, cartoonist and podcaster. He graduated from Heythrop College London in 2009 with a BA in philosophy, before living and working in China for three years as a freelance reporter. After training in financial journalism at City University from 2013 to 2014, Jack worked at Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters before moving into editing magazines on global trade and development finance. Shortly after editing opinion writing for UnHerd, he joined the independent think tank ResPublica, where he led a media campaign to change the health and safety requirements around asbestos in UK public buildings. As host and producer of The Booking Club podcast – a conversation series featuring prominent authors and commentators at their favourite restaurants – Jack continues to engage today’s most distinguished thinkers on the biggest problems pertaining to ideology and power in the 21st century. He joined Global Government Forum as its Senior Staff Writer and Community Co-ordinator in 2021.

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