Soaring prices at the gas pump may force some employers to rethink their telecommuting policies as labour scarcity and inflation shake up the job market.

"It will certainly give employees more arguments," said Manon Poirier, executive director of the Ordre des conseillers en ressources humaines. "They'll say, 'Now you're asking me to come back. I've been productive and efficient remotely for two years and now you're asking me to come back to the office two or three days a week. Here are the additional costs.'"

Increased costs for automobile transportation are another irritant for employees, whose jobs allow for telecommuting, while the labour-scarce environment gives them greater bargaining power.

The "exceptional" situation in the labour market led the College to release an update to its 2022 salary increase forecast, published last September.

Rapidly rising inflation and labor scarcity "have resulted in many employers giving more generous increases in 2022 than they anticipated just a few months earlier."

"It's pretty exceptional, in the last few years, it's the first time we've made revised forecasts," Poirier said in an interview. "We felt in the fall that it could change because of the particular context."

As early as September, the College was forecasting the highest salary increases in 10 years at an average of 2.9 per cent. These increases would be even higher than anticipated, according to its salary forecast survey conducted in partnership with the firms Normandin Beaudry, PCI Perreault conseil, Solutions Mieux-être LifeWorks and Willis Towers Watson.

In Quebec, increases averaging between 3.3 per cent and 3.5 per cent are now expected for the year 2022. While some employers award salaries starting in January, some employers do so in the spring, which is why the talk of forecasts is ongoing.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on March 7, 2022.