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Work Force Adjustment Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

Q1. What is a Work Force Adjustment?

Q2. What is the Work Force Adjustment Directive?

Q3. Does the WFAD apply to all FIs?

Q4. Can ACFO assist me through the WFA process?

Q5. What does "affected employee" mean in a work force adjustment situation?

Q6. What does Work Force Adjustment offer to an indeterminate FI in a WFA situation? 

Q7. Who determines which positions will be identified as surplus?

Q8. Is individual performance used to identify surplus positions?

Q9. Is there a buy-out option as part of the WFA agreement?

Q10. What can I do if I do not agree with the decisions made for a particular work force adjustment situation?

Q11. Can FIs grieve the decision to declare them surplus?

Q12. Is ACFO aware of FIs who receive WFA notification?

Q13. What happens to FIs if their position is affected while they are on maternity, parental or extended sick leave?

Q14. What happens to FIs if their position is affected while they are on leave without pay?

Q15. What are the rights of a term FI in a WFA situation?

Reasonable Job Offers

Q16. What is a reasonable job offer? 

Q17. What factors does the Deputy Head consider when determining whether or not to provide a guarantee of a reasonable job offer?

Q18. What is salary protection and what does it mean in relation to a reasonable job offer?

Q19. How long will the guarantee of a reasonable job offer remain in effect?

Q20. When can Deputy Heads choose not to provide a reasonable job offer?

Q21. Will the Deputy Head provide a rationale if they cannot provide an FI with a guarantee of a reasonable job offer?

Q22. What WFA agreement provisions apply to FIs in situations where no guarantee of a reasonable offer is extended?

Alternation

Q23. What is alternation, and when are FIs eligible to choose alternation?

Opting Employees

Q24. When a Deputy Head is unable to guarantee a reasonable job offer an FI is notified that he/she is an opting employee. Is it acceptable to continue assigning work during the opting period?

Q25. If I am an opting employee, what should I do during the period that I have to select one of the options?

 

Q26. What happens if I make my decision before the opting period is over?

Q27. If I select Option A (12-month surplus priority), how long will I have to find another job before I am laid off?

 

Q28. I was planning on retiring in a year's time, but now I have been advised that my position will be eliminated. I understand that in work force adjustment situations, employees are eligible for a pension waiver. Do I qualify for a pension waiver?

 

Surplus Employees

Q29. What happens when an FI is declared surplus and receives a GRJO?

Q30. Can FIs receive advance notification that their positions will be surplus in the future?

Q31. Can FIs who have been declared surplus still be assigned work during the surplus period?

Q32. If a surplus employee chooses to leave the Public Service with a transition support measure and/or an education allowance, will they also be entitled to receive Employment Insurance benefits?

Q33. Will accepting an assignment or secondment affect my surplus status?

Q34. I have been in surplus status for several months and have not received any offers. What will happen to me if I do not receive a job offer?

Relocation and transfer

Q35. What WFA provisions apply when departmental work is being transferred either to a separate employer or outside of the Core Public Administration?

Q36. When extending a reasonable job offer, how wide is the geographic area considered for redeployment to other positions?

Q37. What happens if an FI’s position is declared surplus while they are on secondment or assignment?

 

 

Q38. Does a job offer from a separate employer such as the Canada Revenue Agency constitute a reasonable job offer?

 

Q39. What about circumstances involving the relocation of a work unit? 

 

Pay and Benefits

Q40. If employees return to the Core Public Administration after having received a Work Force Adjustment lump-sum payment, what rules apply?

Q41. If an FI’s position is declared surplus, and no reasonable job offer is guaranteed, is the employee entitled to severance benefits?

Q42. Will annual leave, accumulated sick leave, family-related leave, personal day, etc. be cashed out?

Q43. How are pensions affected if an FI retires involuntarily under Work Force Adjustment?

Counselling, support and resources

 

Q44. What special counselling assistance is provided to FIs who have been designated as either affected or surplus under Work Force Adjustment?

 

Q45. If FIs are declared surplus, how can they improve their chances of finding employment?

Q46. Who will be responsible for covering the costs resulting from WFA measures?

Q47. Where can an FI find more information on priority administration?

 

  

   General Information 

 

Q1. What is a Work Force Adjustment?

Work Force Adjustment (WFA) is a situation that occurs when a Deputy Head decides that the services of one or more indeterminate employees will no longer be required beyond a specified date because of:

 

  • a lack of work;
  • the discontinuance of a function;
  • a relocation in which the employee does not wish to relocate; or
  • an alternative delivery initiative.

 

Q2. What is the Work Force Adjustment Directive?

The Work Force Adjustment Directive (WFAD) is an agreement negotiated by several bargaining agents through the National Joint Council (NJC).  The Directive emphasizes employment continuity and ensures that, whenever possible, indeterminate employees affected by a WFA are given every reasonable opportunity to continue their careers as public servants.

 

Q3. Does the WFAD apply to all FIs?

All indeterminate FIs in the Core Public Administration are covered under the WFAD.

 

Q4. Can ACFO assist me through the WFA process?

If you receive notification that you are affected or work force adjusted you should contact ACFO at 613-728-0695 and ask to speak with a Labour Relations Advisor.   Our professional staff is ready to answer any question you may have and will help guide you through the WFA process to improve the likelihood of achieving your desired outcome.

 

Q5. What does "affected employee" mean in a work force adjustment situation?

An affected employee is an indeterminate employee who has been informed that his or her services may no longer be required because of a work force adjustment situation. An affected notice does not necessarily mean that the employee's position will be declared surplus. It signals that the organization is assessing which functions should be retained and which may no longer be required in the event that multiple employees are performing similar functions.

In cases where the services of all employees within a certain group or area are no longer required or a work force adjustment situation is very time sensitive, employees may not receive an affected notice and may instead be informed that their position has been declared surplus immediately.

There is no time limit on how long an employee may be "affected."

 

Q6. What does Work Force Adjustment offer to an indeterminate FI in a WFA situation? 

Indeterminate FIs whose services are no longer required because of a WFA situation may or may not receive a guarantee of a reasonable job offer (GRJO).

Where no GRJO is made within the Core Public Administration, employees have a 120 day opting period during which to choose one of the three possible transition support options. In these cases, the employee is considered an “opting employee”.

In cases where the Deputy Head knows or can predict employment availability, an affected employee may receive a written GRJO within the Public Service. Employees who receive a GRJO are considered “surplus employees”.

 

Q7. Who determines which positions will be identified as surplus?

The Deputy Head will make the decision under the WFAD as to whether or not affected employees will be guaranteed a reasonable job offer.

 

Q8. Is individual performance used to identify surplus positions?

Performance is one of many factors that the Employer can take into account when determining which affected members are selected for work force adjustment.

 

Q9. Is there a buy-out option as part of the WFA agreement?

Indeterminate employees whose positions are identified as surplus and who are not provided a guarantee of a reasonable job offer may select from several options. One of these is referred to as the transition support measure and provides for a cash payment to compensate for involuntary departures.

 

Q10. What can I do if I do not agree with the decisions made for a particular work force adjustment situation?

You should speak with your manager about your concerns. You may also want to contact ACFO about your options.

 

Q11. Can FIs grieve the decision to declare them surplus?

Employees may grieve any matter that falls within the scope of the collective agreement, including work force adjustment.

Please note that selecting an employee for lay-off may be the subject of a complaint to the Public Service Staffing Tribunal on the basis that it constituted an abuse of authority.

 

Q12. Is ACFO aware of FIs who receive WFA notification?

In keeping with the work force adjustment agreements, organizations are obligated to inform senior officials of the responsible unions. Organizations are also obliged to consult with unions, which may be done through labour-management consultation committees or joint union-management work force adjustment committees.

You may wish to speak with the Association to assist you in a work force adjustment situation and to get more information about your rights under the applicable work force adjustment agreement or Work Force Adjustment Directive.

 

Q13. What happens to FIs if their position is affected while they are on maternity, parental or extended sick leave?

In these situations, an employee whose position is affected will receive written notification at the same time as other affected employees. Generally, the decision as to whether or not to provide a GRJO will only be made when the employee returns to work at the end of their leave period.

 

Q14. What happens to FIs if their position is affected while they are on leave without pay?

Different circumstances may apply depending on how long an employee has been on leave without pay.

 Leave without pay for more than 12 months

When an employee has been on leave without pay for more than one year and their substantive position has subsequently been staffed on an indeterminate basis, the employee on leave will have already been provided with a leave of absence priority entitlement. No WFA agreement would be applied in this case.

 If the position has not been staffed on an indeterminate basis, the WFA provisions for the employee on leave would apply. The employee on leave would be officially notified of the date that their substantive position will cease to exist. The notification letter will also indicate whether or not the employee will receive a guarantee of a reasonable job offer.

 Leave without pay for less than 12 months

An employee whose position is affected while on leave without pay will receive written notification at the same time as other affected employees. Generally, the decision as to whether or not to provide a GRJO will only be made when the employee returns to work at the end of their leave period.

 During the affected period the Department may conduct retention and selection exercises, as well as additional staffing processes to fill new vacancies. Employees on leave without pay should be invited to participate in these exercises or process. It is during this period that affected employees may either secure employment elsewhere or be subject to the WFA agreement provisions.

 

Q15. What are the rights of a term FI in a WFA situation?

Section 7 of the Treasury Board's Term Employment Policy contains details on notice and time counting towards indeterminate employment in those organizations subject to the Treasury Board policy.

 

Reasonable Job Offers

 

Q16. What is a reasonable job offer? 

A reasonable job offer is an offer of indeterminate employment within the Core Public Administration that is usually at the employee's current level, but which in some circumstances may involve a lower-level position appointment with salary protection.

Where feasible, such an offer will be made within the employee's local area, which is an area referred to as the employee's headquarters area as defined in both the Travel Directive and the Relocation Directive of the National Joint Council. The Department will try to match the employee's skills, experience, interest, and preferred area of mobility with the reasonable job offer.

In certain circumstances, however, a job opening in another location could be considered as a reasonable job offer where there is no guarantee that a job will be found in a local area. Under the WFAD an employee who is declared surplus must be trainable, must cooperate in placement efforts, and must not unduly restrict his or her mobility.

 

Q17. What factors does the Deputy Head consider when determining whether or not to provide a guarantee of a reasonable job offer?

There are many factors that should be considered in deciding whether or not to provide an employee with a GRJO, including:

  • whether there will be a future need for the skills and competencies of the affected employee(s) within the core public administration. This determination should be based on a number of factors:
  • consideration of the number and types of priorities within the Public Service Commission Priority Referral System;
  • consultation of the departmental Human Resources Plan to identify possible opportunities within the department;
  • consideration of the employees’ competencies.
  • whether retraining for another position would be onerous.
  • whether the work location of the affected employee is in a remote location with little federal presence that may limit the potential for re-employment. Deputy heads will also take into consideration what other departments or organizations have done in that region and if the employee is mobile.

It should be noted that while geographic preferences of the employee are taken into account, there is no guarantee that a reasonable job offer would necessarily match the employee’s preference.

 

Q18. What is salary protection and what does it mean in relation to a reasonable job offer?

Surplus employees and laid-off persons appointed to lower-level positions under WFA agreements have their original salary protected, in accordance with their collective agreements. The salary of the appointee is protected until such time as that person is appointed to a position equivalent to the maximum rate of pay of his or her previous substantive position, or until the person refuses an offer of appointment equivalent to the maximum of the group and level of his or her previous substantive position, usually within the same geographical area. Salary protection will continue until such time as the employee attains salary equivalent to that of his/her former position. 

 

Q19. How long will the guarantee of a reasonable job offer remain in effect?

An employee who receives a written GRJO remains in surplus status until he or she is either appointed to another indeterminate position, is laid off, or chooses to resign. Having a guarantee of a reasonable job offer means that the employee will remain surplus until he or she has been provided with at least one reasonable job offer.

Employees could receive a reasonable job offer as soon as the first day of their surplus period, or later, since there is no time limit. If an employee refuses a reasonable job offer, the employee can be laid off with one month’s notice, providing the layoff occurs no sooner than six months from the start of his or her surplus status.

 

Q20. When can Deputy Heads choose not to provide a reasonable job offer?

Deputy Heads may not be in a position to provide a GRJO in situations where it is unlikely that another position in the Public Service will be found for an affected employee.

 

Q21. Will the Deputy Head provide a rationale if they cannot provide an FI with a guarantee of a reasonable job offer?

At the request of the employee, the Deputy Head will provide his or her reasons in writing for not providing a GRJO.

 

Q22. What WFA agreement provisions apply to FIs in situations where no guarantee of a reasonable offer is extended?

Employees who do not receive a written guarantee of a reasonable job offer (also known as opting employees) will have 120 days during which to choose from one of three options:

  • A 12-month surplus period during which to find another position (the employee will be placed on a time-limited surplus priority list). Employees who are not placed after the 12-month period are considered laid off for purposes of severance pay;
  • An offer of a transition support measure, which is a lump-sum payment tied to years of service; or
  • An offer of a sum equivalent to the transition support measure, plus an education allowance.

 

Alternation

 

Q23. What is alternation, and when are FIs eligible to choose alternation?

FIs that are not given a guarantee of a reasonable job offer (also known as opting employees) are eligible for alternation. Alternation refers to an option whereby an opting employee exchanges positions with a non-affected employee willing to leave the Core Public Administration. All departments must participate in the alternation process.

Alternation is only available during the employee's 120 day opting period.  The employee must meet the position requirements of the position they are alternating into and alternation must occur on a specified date agreeable to the department. No "future considerations" can be arranged. Alternation requires management approval.

 

Opting Employees

 

Q24. When a Deputy Head is unable to guarantee a reasonable job offer an FI is notified that he/she is an opting employee. Is it acceptable to continue assigning work during the opting period?

Yes.  Opting employees can be expected to continue to carry out the duties of their position until their position is discontinued (this would be the date indicated in the employee’s official notification letter).

After this date, employees cannot be expected to continue to perform the duties of a position that no longer exists, but should be assigned other meaningful work for the rest of their opting period. It is also important to ensure that the individual is provided with adequate time, resources and guidance to choose his/her preferred option and explore alternation opportunities.

 

Q25. If I am an opting employee, what should I do during the period that I have to select one of the options?

 During your 120 day opting period you can:

  • Talk to your manager and your ACFO representative and ensure you understand all of the options.
  • Take advantage of the counselling offered.
  • Consider talking to a financial advisor to explore which option makes the most financial sense for you.
  • If you are interested in staying in the Public Service, consider alternation.

 

Q26. What happens if I make my decision before the opting period is over?

Your decision must be submitted in writing within the opting period of 120 days. If you select Option A (12-month surplus priority), the days left in your opting period that you did not use to make your decision can be added to your surplus period if you request this in writing.

 

Q27. If I select Option A (12-month surplus priority), how long will I have to find another job before I am laid off?

As an employee in surplus status who has chosen Option A (12-month surplus priority), you will be laid off if you have not found another position within 12 months from the date on which you are formally advised that this is the option you selected.

 

Q28. I was planning on retiring in a year's time, but now I have been advised that my position will be eliminated. I understand that in work force adjustment situations, employees are eligible for a pension waiver. Do I qualify for a pension waiver?

 You may be eligible for a waiver of the pension reduction if the deputy head or their delegate certifies that all of the following conditions are met:

  • You are a surplus employee who has not received a reasonable job offer or a guarantee of a reasonable job offer.
  • You are between the age of 55 and 59 and have been employed in the Public Service for at least 10 years on the date you cease employment.
  • You have not received an educational allowance as part of a transition support measure.

 Consult the Frequently Asked Questions – Preparing to Retire from the Federal Public Service for more information on retirement.

 

Surplus Employees

 

Q29. What happens when an FI is declared surplus and receives a GRJO?

An FI who receives a written GRJO remains in surplus priority status until he or she is either appointed to another indeterminate position, is laid off, or chooses to resign. Being provided with a guarantee of a reasonable job offer means that the employee will remain surplus until he or she has been provided with a reasonable job offer.

Employees could receive a reasonable job offer as soon as the first day of their surplus period, or later, since there is no time limit. An employee who refuses a reasonable job offer can be laid off with one month’s notice, but no sooner than six months from the start of his or her surplus status.

More information on priority administration is available on the Public Service Commission website.

 

Q30. Can FIs receive advance notification that their positions will be surplus in the future?

Yes, a Deputy Head can declare employees surplus if he/she knows with certainty that their positions will no longer be required beyond a certain date.  An employee should not be declared surplus more than 12 months in advance of the position becoming surplus. This notice will be in writing and indicate whether or not the employees will receive a GRJO.

 

Q31. Can FIs who have been declared surplus still be assigned work during the surplus period?

Yes, employees should be assigned meaningful work during their surplus period. However, if their position or function has ceased to exist, they cannot be expected to continue to perform those duties.

Employees should also be given sufficient time, tools and support to assist them in their search for alternative employment.

 

Q32. If a surplus employee chooses to leave the Public Service with a transition support measure and/or an education allowance, will they also be entitled to receive Employment Insurance benefits?

Currently the employer is confirming this answer with EI.

 

Q33. Will accepting an assignment or secondment affect my surplus status?

No, accepting an assignment or secondment will not affect your surplus status.

 

Q34. I have been in surplus status for several months and have not received any offers. What will happen to me if I do not receive a job offer?

As an active participant in finding alternate employment, you may need to re-examine your options or broaden your job search. If you are given a guarantee of a reasonable offer you will continue to be paid until you receive a reasonable job offer. You must seriously consider a reasonable job offer, and if you refuse it, you will be laid off.

If you are an opting employee, and you chose Option A (12-month priority surplus status), you have 12 months in which to find a job. Despite all efforts, if you do not receive a reasonable job offer during the 12 months, in accordance with the work force adjustment agreements, you will be laid off.

If your employment in the Public Service ceases because you are laid off, you will be entitled to be considered on a priority basis for 12 months for appointment to positions for which you may be qualified. Consult the Public Service Commission's website for more information about the lay-off priority entitlement.

 

Relocation and transfer

 

Q35. What WFA provisions apply when departmental work is being transferred either to a separate employer or outside of the Core Public Administration?

In circumstances where departmental work is being transferred to a separate employer or outside of the Core Public Administration, employees are provided access under Work Force Adjustment Part VII to provisions specifically addressing three possible types of alternative service delivery initiatives. Employees affected by a decision to transfer any work, undertaking, or business of the Core Public Administration to anybody or corporation that is a separate employer or that is outside of the Core Public Administration are given access to specific provisions tailored to address the type of employment arrangement being offered.

 

Q36. When extending a reasonable job offer, how wide is the geographic area considered for redeployment to other positions?

Where practicable, a reasonable job offer will be located within the employee's headquarters area as defined in both the National Joint Council’s Travel Directive and Relocation Directive. Departments will be expected to confer with PSC officials responsible for the Priority Administration System to try to find jobs in employees' preferred areas of mobility, but employees are expected to be willing to move to where jobs are located.

 

Q37. What happens if an FI’s position is declared surplus while they are on secondment or assignment?

In these cases, the WFA provisions would still apply and the employee would be officially notified of the date that their substantive position will cease to exist. The notification letter will also indicate whether or not the employee will receive a GRJO.

It is at the Department’s discretion to request that the employee return to their substantive position until the date the position is discontinued.

 

Q38. Does a job offer from a separate employer such as the Canada Revenue Agency constitute a reasonable job offer?

Generally, a job offer from a Financial Administration Act Schedule V employer to a surplus employee may be considered a reasonable job offer if the job offer meets the criteria for a reasonable job offer.

 

Q39. What about circumstances involving the relocation of a work unit? 

If an employee is declared affected because his or her work unit is to be relocated to another area beyond what is considered to be normal commuting distance, Workforce Adjustment agreements provide that the employee will receive written notice in the form of a letter advising that the work unit is moving. The letter will also accord the affected employee with a period of six months during which to decide whether or not the employee wishes to move with the position or to be declared surplus.

Should the employee decide not to move with the relocated position, then the Deputy Head, after having considered all of the relevant factors, will provide the employee in writing with either a GRJO or access to the options. It is possible at some point that the employee's relocated position could be offered to the employee as a reasonable job offer, in the event that other employment cannot be found in the employee's preferred location.

 

Pay and Benefits

 

Q40. If employees return to the Core Public Administration after having received a Work Force Adjustment lump-sum payment, what rules apply?

If employees receive a WFA lump-sum payment (including pay in lieu of unfulfilled surplus period, a transition support measure, an education allowance under a WFA agreement, a top-up allowance, retention payment or a special payment as a result of an Alternative Delivery Initiative) they are required to declare that they have received such a payment, should they seek to return to the Core Public Administration. They will be required to repay an amount corresponding to the period from the effective date of re-appointment to the end of the original period covered by the total of the lump-sum payment. Other conditions may apply in specific circumstances. Employees are advised to consult their compensation advisor for more information.

 

Q41. If an FI’s position is declared surplus, and no reasonable job offer is guaranteed, is the employee entitled to severance benefits?

Severance benefits continue for cases of lay-off, death, termination on probation and termination for reasons of incapacity or incompetence.

 

Q42. Will annual leave, accumulated sick leave, family-related leave, personal day, etc. be cashed out?

Annual leave and the one-time leave that employees have earned but not used at termination of employment will be paid to them in cash at their current rate of pay as of their last day of work.

Sick leave, family-related leave and personal days that were earned, but not used, are not paid out in cash.

 

Q43. How are pensions affected if an FI retires involuntarily under Work Force Adjustment?

Under the Public Service Superannuation Act, an employee may be eligible for a waiver of the penalty as long as the employee meets the following conditions, certified by the Deputy Head:

  • Is at least 55 years of age on termination date;
  • Has been employed in the Public Service for a period or periods totalling at least ten years;
  • Resigns from the Public Service under a WFA agreement and has not received a guarantee of a reasonable job offer; and
  • Has not received an educational allowance.

The Public Service Pension Centre of Public Works and Government Services Canada, as the administrator of the pension plan, has the delegated authority to approve requests for waivers of the penalty only for situations related to Work Force Adjustment. Cases of involuntary termination other than Work Force Adjustment must be approved by the Treasury Board.

 

Counselling, Support and Resources

 

 

Q44. What special counselling assistance is provided to FIs who have been designated as either affected or surplus under Work Force Adjustment?

Under the WFAD departments must inform and counsel affected and surplus employees as early and as completely as possible. In addition, Departments must assign a counsellor to employees impacted by a WFA situation to work with them throughout the process.

Such counselling is to include explanations and assistance concerning:

  • the WFA situation and its effect on that individual;
  • the WFA directive;
  • the Public Service Commission's Priority Administration System and how it works from the employee's perspective;
  • preparation of a curriculum vitae or resume;
  • preparation for an interview with the Public Service Commission;
  • the employee's rights and obligations;
  • the employee's current situation (e.g., pay, benefits such as severance pay and superannuation, classification, language rights, years of service);
  • alternatives that might be available to the employee (alternation, appointment, relocation, retraining, lower-level employment, term employment, retirement including possibility of waiver of penalty if entitled to an annual allowance, transition support measure, education allowance, resignation, accelerated lay-off);
  • the likelihood that the employee will be successfully appointed;
  • the meaning of a guarantee of reasonable job offer, a 12-month surplus priority period in which to secure a reasonable job offer, a transition support measure, or an education allowance;
  • the Human Resources Centres and their services (including a recommendation that the employee register with the nearest office as soon as possible);
  • preparation for interviews with prospective employers;
  • repeat counselling as long as the individual is entitled to a staffing priority and has not been appointed; and
  • advice provided to the employee that refusal of a reasonable job offer will jeopardize both chances for retraining and overall employment continuity.

 

Q45. If FIs are declared surplus, how can they improve their chances of finding employment?

Employees who are seeking redeployment share equally in the responsibility for resolving their situations. This means that they should actively participate in the redeployment process. It is important that they provide timely information and be available for job interviews, and that they give serious and thoughtful consideration to all job opportunities. Employees should be aware of their entitlements and obligations associated with their priority status.

 

Q46. Who will be responsible for covering the costs resulting from WFA measures?

Costs resulting from the application of WFA agreements will be covered by the responsible Department.

 

Q47. Where can an FI find more information on priority administration?

Information on priority administration is available on the Public Service Commission website.