Typically, we at ACFO-ACAF use National Public Service Week as an opportunity to reflect on the importance of our members and the value you bring to the public service. And truly, we are more honoured than ever to represent a community that has risen to such an incredible challenge and demonstrated such remarkable resilience, adaptability and professionalism.

But we also know that at this time you are likely more concerned with practical questions about how the ongoing pandemic will affect your work and the possibility of a return to the office in the coming months

While we are still working hard on group priorities like professional development, addressing Phoenix, preparing to negotiate our first CT agreement and assisting member with their workplace concerns, our number one priority is to ensure that the safety of our members when they return to work.

First, we want to reassure our members that ACFO-ACAF continues to work closely with the Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer (OCHRO) and departments on this issue. To outline and support our position on return to work in these discussions, ACFO-ACAF drafted a sample return to work policy, which includes guiding principles and a collection of best practices we will be asking departments to follow. The sample policy can be viewed here: https://www.acfo-acaf.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/ACFO-ACAF-Sample-return-to-work-policy.pdf

Based on our conversations individual departments, it is our understanding that most ACFO-ACAF members will be remaining on telework status for the foreseeable future, at least until September. We have had especially productive conversations on this issue with Public Sector and Procurement Canada and the Department of National Defence, both of whom supported this timeline and have committed to providing several weeks’ notice before employees return to the workplace.

When the return to the workplace does begin, it will be gradual and will be based on several factors, including geography, function, available local infrastructure such as childcare and public transit, the setup of each specific office space and individual circumstances.

That said, members who are not performing a critical role should not yet be asked to return to the workplace. If you have been working remotely for the past few months and are already being asked to return to the office, we encourage you to contact an ACFO-ACAF Labour Relations Advisor at labourrelations@acfo-acaf.com. Similarly, we want to reiterate that ‘Other leave with pay’ (code 699) is still available. If you meet the criteria but are being denied 699 leave, we again encourage you to contact Labour Relations.

We would also like to note that ACFO-ACAF has raised the issue of a possible tax deduction related to working from home with the employer (form T2200), and that these discussions are ongoing. We will continue to share information on this as it becomes available.

Finally, we want to emphasize that while this is obviously an incredibly difficult time and it can feel strange to celebrate anything, it is worth taking a moment to recognize the importance of the work you do and to congratulate yourself on all that you have accomplished, especially given the unprecedented circumstances. For our part, ACFO-ACAF is proud to serve this community and we will continue to work to ensure your safety and advocate for your best interests in the coming months.