COVID-19

COVID-19: Return to work policies and procedures

We know that many of you have likely begun to receive messages from the employer and your department regarding eventual return to work processes and procedures. We want to assure you that none of these processes are finalized yet and that ACFO-ACAF is in constant communication with the employer and individual departments to ensure all our members’ health and safety are protected.

Earlier this week, the Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer released an update regarding the re-opening school and childcare in Quebec and how that might impact the use of other leave with pay (code 699) for affected employees. We have copied that message below.

In the weeks and months to come, there will be a gradual return to the workplace as restrictions are lifted in accordance with recommendations made by public health authorities. As previously mentioned, discussions are still ongoing, but we believe you can expect that documentation will increasingly be required as part of a larger accommodation rationale. We encourage you to start thinking about securing documentation for any special circumstances you may be have that could affect your return to work or your use of other leave with pay (code 699).

If your department is requiring employees to return to the office or requesting that you cease using 699 leave and you have either concerns for your health and safety or special circumstances that require accommodation, we encourage you to contact your manager. You can explain your concerns and request to continue to telework or take leave under code 699. If you believe your manager is being unfair or if your request is denied, please contact an ACFO-ACAF Labour Relations Advisor at labourrelations@acfo-acaf.com.

ACFO-ACAF will be closely monitoring communications by departments and OCHRO and will be providing updates as they are available.

Many of you have been asking how the re-opening of schools and daycares will impact current special leave provisions, particularly the use of ‘Other Leave With Pay (699)’ for family-related responsibilities related to daycare or school closures.

First, we would note that the guidance provided on the Employee Illness and Leave page on canada.ca regarding childcare arrangements continues to be in effect, recognizing that a number of provinces and territories have not announced the re-opening of these facilities or are announcing gradual re-openings.

As schools and daycares are re-opened, we expect that employees who could not work due to childcare obligations will be able to return to work. We recognize, however, that there will be some instances where employees may be unable to work their full hours if their children are unable to return to school or daycare due to health reasons, limited availability of spaces or other restrictions put in place by provincial or territorial authorities. In these cases, employees may use ‘Other Leave With Pay (699)’ for hours not worked, if they are unable to make alternate childcare arrangements.

We would expect that employees continue to adopt a good faith approach in using this leave, keeping in mind their important role in providing services to Canadians. We encourage managers and employees to have a conversation regarding how best to manage leave requests in this context, including employees’ ability to return to work or whether flexible working arrangements would be a reasonable alternative to taking leave.

We will be sharing more detailed information with the human resources community through our regular teleconferences and touchpoints to help guide them in their discussions with managers and employees regarding the use of this leave going forward.

Thank you for your continued collaboration and flexibility as we prepare for and respond to some easing of COVID-related restrictions

Public health authorities continue to signal that physical distancing requirements will remain in place even as some restrictions begin to ease in some places, we should all expect some combination of remote work and work at traditional worksites to continue for the foreseeable future.

Our new normal in the public service will therefore take some time to shape. The health and safety of federal employees remains paramount. Please note that we will be re-evaluating our guidance regarding special leave provisions in late June and we will update you on any further changes at that time.

Sandra Hassan
Assistant Deputy Minister, Employment Conditions & Labour Relations, Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer
Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat / Government of Canada

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