Return to Office Toolkit

Return to Office (RTO) Toolkit

Table of Contents

Politically motivated mandates made at the expense of State workers are bad policy for all Californians and CAPS UAW is committed to fighting back against all of them. To that end, CAPS UAW has developed materials to be used as guidelines for members as more departments notice the union and follow Newsom’s direction to arbitrarily require a minimum number of in-office days. See all current RTO/Telework notices here:

Your CAPS UAW Bargaining Team continues to schedule Meet and Confers, submit information requests, and illustrate to departments that a one-size-fits all approach does not work! But you need to take action too. See the guidelines and actions below and let’s fight this together! 

These guidelines will not cover all situations, but may assist you in determining the best next steps. These guidelines will be updated as necessary. As always, if you have any questions or are feeling as though you’re being unreasonably disciplined, contact CAPS UAW Offices immediately at

Advice for Most-Recurrent Situations

Below are some of the most frequent scenarios members have reported at this time. Please review these  situations and recommendations of how to address them.

A notice to the union is a formal letter that states the department’s intent to create or change a formal procedure or policy at the department. Should you find yourself in this circumstance, CAPS UAW recommends that you submit the telework agreement you would like to see on the requested date. That means modifying the agreement to best meet your professional needs. Your supervisor can ask that you change your modifications, but you both have to agree upon the modification. If both parties do not agree, the telework agreement will be denied and members should reach out to file a grievance (see Section C, GRIEVANCES, below). Per the CAPS MOU, Section 7.10, “If the telework arrangement conforms to telework criteria established in the department’s telework policy and guidelines, no employee’s request for telework shall be unreasonably denied.”

A notice to the union is a formal letter that states the department’s intent to create or change a formal procedure or policy at the department. “Practice” RTO  is a violation of your standing Telework Agreement. This is a circumvention of the process outlined in each departmental telework policy – you have a valid telework agreement until it is terminated or modified that details your schedule. . Please contact CAPS UAW Labor Representatives immediately at with the following information: 

  1. What Branch/Program/Unit is affected
  2.  The names of any supervisor(s) or manager(s) that have released this information and whether it was verbally or in writing; 
  3. Any direction in writing from supervisor(s) or higher; if only Unit 10 is affected or all Units. 

Please include “RTO Issue” in the subject line. This information ensures CAPS UAW can examine the best route to take to ensure your rights are protected. 

Supervisors are also being informed that they must RTO, but have been getting different instructions. Additionally, departments started to release their own updates to policies in January of this year and recently, on April 16, the Newsom Administration added to the confusion and is asking that all departments abide by an arbitrary minimum. If anything your supervisor relays sounds incorrect – such as field work doesn’t count as in office days – contact CAPS UAW immediately at

For members who have moved during the last few years, or were hired with the knowledge that they are not immediate area, and are now at a distance that would make traveling to their reporting office location a hardship, please contact CAPS UAW to get started in potentially requesting a Hardship Transfer as permitted by CAPS MOU Section 16.5 (  


1. Do I have to comply with the RTO demands if no Meet and Confer is held?

As long as the Department has provided notice, yes. If the demand is not consistent with your telework agreement, take the steps outlined above.

2. Do I have to submit a new telework agreement?

Yes, but you should always submit the agreement that suits you best. Per the Statewide Telework Policy, “All employees in positions designated by management as eligible shall be qualified to participate in telework and are authorized to participate to the fullest extent possible without diminished individual or organizational performance.”

3. I haven’t been asked to submit any new Telework Agreement but I’ve been asked to come into the office?

Your supervisor is entitled to request that you report to office when necessary per the Form 200 (your telework agreement) Section 7C, which states: “Employee acknowledges they must forgo telework when their physical presence is required in the office on regularly scheduled telework days. Managers and/or supervisors should provide prior notice whenever possible. The employee may be required to report to the office without prior notice.” If you’re being requested to come in on a regular basis, see Q4 below. If you’re being requested to come into the office for recurring situations that you don’t believe are necessary, please contact CAPS UAW Labor Representatives at

4. I haven’t been asked to submit any new telework agreement but I’ve been asked to RTO on a regularly scheduled-basis?

This is a violation of your standing Telework Agreement. This is a circumvention of the process outlined in each departmental telework policy – you have a valid telework agreement until it is terminated or modified that details your schedule. If you are being asked to RTO on a regular basis without a change to your agreement, contact CAPS UAW Labor Representatives immediately for assistance.

5. I received directions to modify my agreement by a certain date?

As noted in Q2, submit the agreement that you would like to see on the required date. If your supervisor has directed you to fill out certain days, note that they have the ability to suggest a modification to you. Per the Statewide Telework Policy, the definition of a Telework Agreement is: “The Telework Agreement is a formal document prepared and signed by the teleworker and supervisor.  The Telework Agreement provides the framework for the discussion about the general expectations that need to take place between the supervisor and the employee in order to work effectively,” which illustrates the need for the agreement to be reached mutually as part of open communication. Should your supervisor deny a modification you’ve put forth, and if you do not agree with your supervisors’ suggested modification, your supervisor does have the right to terminate your telework agreement. To avoid cancellation of your telework agreement, you can sign the modification suggested by your supervisor, but you may lose the capability to grieve the denial of your preferred telework schedule.

6.  My supervisor stated field work doesn’t count as in office days?

This is incorrect. We’ve seen a few department managers state this, but have quickly addressed it with labor. Field work days DO count as in office days

7. I need a reasonable accommodation.

This is a separate process from telework or RTO. To find out how to start a Reasonable Accommodation request, contact the CAPS UAW office here: 

8. My supervisor said I have to complete a full day in the office if I am in the office?

There are some departments that have policies or expectations that state this. If you are unsure, CAPS UAW can request the policy for you.

9. My telework agreement was terminated, what do I do?

Submit a new telework agreement with the telework schedule you’d like to see. If your new agreement is denied, request that your supervisor provide the denial in writing and contact CAPS UAW staff representatives to file a grievance immediately at


Below are some actions to fight back! 

Attend any and all events across the State to push back on RTO. Share events that you find with CAPS UAW leadership so that they can be emailed to membership. Organize your own events around significant workplace days. 

May Day RTO Power Hour 12 – 1 p.m.

Join in a specific pushback on RTO power hour as part of a larger pro-labor May Day event on May 1st in Sacramento on 10th Street between N and L (westside of the State Capitol building). See email sent out on April 22, 2024 for more information.


CAPS UAW is pushing back and organizing collectively through things such as pursuing Meet and Confers with Departments and CalHR, an RTO coalition with other state unions, and the upcoming May 1st ‘No to RTO’ power hour event (information here). However, you can also ensure that you are being represented as an individual, and help build momentum towards illustrating to departments that no one thinks a blanket requirement with zero operational need works. You can do so by filing a grievance.

In order to be able to file a grievance, there must be a violation of the CAPS MOU, Section 7.10 contemplates telework and states that, “no employee’s request for telework shall be unreasonably denied.”

Thus, once you’ve submitted a modification of your telework agreement – the schedule you prefer – and it gets denied, please ensure you receive the denial in writing and reach out to CAPS UAW Staff Representatives to file a grievance at

We need YOU to file these in conjunction with our efforts at the table to ensure departments and this administration hears it from EVERYONE.

CAPS Members have the ability to write to their supervisors, their chain of command, department directors or agency secretaries to discuss their concerns about Return to Office. Here’s an example of what to write, but feel free to personalize it to your role and agency priorities. If you would like to share a template you created for your agency please cc at on your email: 

Dear ______.

My coworkers and I are very concerned about the department’s push to “Return to Office.” I’m a CAPS UAW member, and I love being able to provide important services to the State of California. One of the central tenets of my work includes protecting California, and the world, from the devastating impacts of climate change. 

California’s Department of General Services (DGS) Telework Tracking dashboard highlighted the benefits of telework by reporting cumulative savings estimates, before it was recently shut down. As of November 2023, DGS had reported 1,020,000,000 commuting miles saved, 25,700,000 commuting hours saved (which is equivalent to 2,937.7 years), $221,000,000 saved in gas, $680,000,000 total vehicle expenses saved, and 370,985 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions avoided just by California state employees teleworking alone. 

Arbitrarily bringing us back to the office for two days per week is diametrically opposed to one of the central principles of my work, and of yours.  

In addition to the hypocritical nature of this return to office directive, I and my colleagues are concerned about returning to office because (insert your individual concerns here. Examples are listed below – NOTE: DO NOT discuss childcare difficulties during work hours as a reason to oppose RTO.)

    • Our department reduced the size of our office and there isn’t space.
    • Our colleagues do not work nearby, so coming into the office will result in untold hours on virtual meetings, while costing us more to go to work. 
    • I or my colleagues do not live close to the office we’re being asked to report to. 
    • We are concerned about the increased exposure to illnesses.
    • I or my colleagues’ mentors are an undue distance apart, requiring that mentorship be remote.
    • The way my work operates, all my in-office work will require that I be in virtual meetings, which will be disruptive in a cubicle setting. 

Telework has increased morale and productivity, and improved my and my colleagues’ work/life balance. It has lowered some costs (commuting costs, food costs) and enabled us to be there for our families more quickly after work, and improved my sleep schedule, which comes with a host of health benefits. I ask that you work with my colleagues and I to ensure that any RTO makes sense for us. And if possible, I ask that you work with the Department to ensure we have common-sense telework policies. 

Thank you, 


Recently, Assemblymember Hoover requested that the Joint Legislative Audit Committee (JLAC) conduct an audit on the cost of RTO to the State of California, and by extension, to the California tax payers. Write to JLAC members today urging them to support this fiscal oversight here: