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California state workers now back in office at least 2 days a week

California's new state employee hybrid work model begins
California's new state employee hybrid work model begins 02:46

SACRAMENTO — Monday, June 17 marked the first official day of California's new hybrid work model for state employees.

Under Gov. Gavin Newsom's new policy, state workers have to work in-office at least two days a week.

Department of Education employee Sean Kaviani was back downtown for the first time Monday paying for parking and finding a place for lunch for the first time in two years.

He stepped inside Sam's Market for a sandwich on his first lunch break in a long time.

"Were you mandated to come back?" Sam's Market employee Kenton Fong asked him. "You haven't been back in the office, right?

Fong said his business is still struggling, but he is starting to see a slow return of state workers.

"It started probably in the beginning of January that some of them started coming back," Fong said.

Gov Newsom set June 17 as the deadline for all state departments to adopt the new policy.

"It's actually great," Kaviani said. "Today is kind of like initiation, like a 'welcome back.' "

CBS13 obtained a letter sent out by the state Department of General Services to returning state workers, which said: "Welcome back to the office…we hope this message finds you well."

Bob Ricker works for the State Water Resources Control Board. He returns to the office on Tuesday and is adding up his costs. He wants to continue working remotely.

"You know, we're in this huge budget deficit right now, and my department, in particular, seems to be spending quite a bit on desks and ergonomic stuff and all this other stuff just to kind of facilitate people back in the office," Ricker said.

An April memo sent from the governor's cabinet ordered the return to office work as a way to enhance communication for the state's 240,000 state workers and set a standard for the state's 150 agencies.

A spokesperson for SEIU 1000, which represents the state's biggest union, said they do not see a wave of employees returning, despite the mandate.

For Kaviati, it's a welcome change in routine.

"I like it. I personally don't mind coming in," Kaviati said.

CBS13 has been working on getting numbers from the state on how many state workers have come back to the office in the last year. A Department of General Services spokesperson said they were unable to answer the question by the time this story was published because of a "statewide connectivity issue."

We are waiting for an updated response.

The Sacramento Downtown Partnership says they have seen only 50% of downtown employees return since 2019.

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