In a letter to ACFO-ACAF President and National Joint Council Co-Chair Dany Richard in December 2021, TBS President Mona Fortier announced that federal departments and agencies would be in charge of developing their own plans for the eventual return to the workplace.

ACFO-ACAF has made our position on returning to the office clear:

  • all members should be given the option of choosing telework, hybrid work or onsite work as they see fit for themselves and their individual situations if their job function allows for it;
  • if a request for telework is denied to a member, a written explanation should be provided by the manager and;
  • telework arrangements should not be dependent on the will of any individual manager – a change in management should not mean a change in telework arrangements.

 You can read more about these recommendations in our position on returning to the office.

While teleworking should be made accessible for those employees who wish it, ACFO-ACAF also acknowledges that from time-to-time, employees may be asked to commute to the office for a valid reason – such as team building, collaboration or training days.

With this in mind, we are pleased to see that Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) has released their Departmental Work Arrangement Guidelines, which outline the department’s plans for returning to the office. ESDC has implemented a work arrangement plan that balances department operational needs with the needs and preferences of individual employees.

In order to determine which employees are eligible for telework, ESDC performed a Job Function Analysis. According to that analysis, financial officers and auditors are eligible for predominantly offsite work. As per the ESDC Work Arrangement Guidelines:

  • Managers must develop individual work arrangements with each employee based on the job functions of the employee, operational requirements, any accessibility needs and the wellbeing and preference of the employee;
  • Once an arrangement has been determined, managers must confirm the arrangement with the employee in writing;
  • If an employee is denied a request to telework, the manager must provide a written rationale outlining the reasons for the denial;
  • Work arrangement agreements will have a duration of one year and must be reviewed before the end of each year to ensure that the terms of the agreement are continually met;
  • Employees may choose to telework full-time or part-time (either on a fixed schedule or a variable one, where on-site days may vary from week to week) or work onsite

These guidelines are all in line with ACFO-ACAF’s recommendations on teleworking. We encourage all federal departments and agencies to follow the lead of ESDC, who have put the preferences and wellbeing of their employees first. If ESDC – one of the Canadian government’s largest and most complex departments – is empowering workers to choose the work arrangement that is best for them, there is no reason why other departments cannot follow suit. The pandemic has shown us that the public service is capable of functioning effectively and efficiently without 100% of employees in the office 100% of the time. Giving employees the agency to make decisions about their work arrangements will allow public servants to continue working productively and serving Canadians to the best of their abilities.

As departments and agencies are responsible for creating their own plans and policies for returning to the workplace, not all plans will be the same. ACFO-ACAF will be conducting an analysis of office-return policies as they are released, ranking them based on their openness towards teleworking arrangements. If you are thinking about making a career move within the public service, we recommend that you consider departmental telework policies as a part of that decision.

If you have questions about telework arrangements, your request to telework has been denied without explanation, or you have concerns with the explanation provided, please contact