Executive positions within the federal public service are unrepresented, meaning employees in those positions are not represented by a bargaining agent. There are also some non-executive positions excluded from union representation because of the nature of the position and its roles / responsibilities. Whether or not your position is represented, this information can be found in the letter of offer you received from the employer.

The opportunity for career advancement is exciting, with pay increases, additional responsibilities and new challenges as reasons to look forward to moving up the ladder. Before accepting an offer to move into an unrepresented position, it’s worth considering the resources and support you may be losing.

Here are some things you should know before making that choice.

Benefits of being in a represented position

As a member of ACFO-ACAF, the terms and conditions of your employment are determined by employer directives (including the Directive of Terms and Conditions of Employment) and your Collective Agreement. These directives are negotiated by the ACFO-ACAF collective bargaining team with your interests in mind.

Some of the benefits of being in a represented position include:

  • Advice on the interpretation of our Collective Agreements, including rate of pay, hours of work and duration and availability of leave;
  • Assistance with formal or informal conflict resolution to resolve workplace conflicts;
  • The opportunity to participate in the collective bargaining process as a member of ACFO-ACAF’s bargaining team;
  • Advocacy on issues such as staffing and pay equity;
  • Assistance with harassment and discrimination complaints; and
  • Representation in grievances which could involve adjudication at the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board.

Having access to the ACFO-ACAF Labour Relations team is like having insurance for your job; even if you never have a need for our services, it’s good to know that if something happens, we’re here to help.

Reasons for considering an unrepresented position

There are a couple of reasons that attract employees to unrepresented positions, such as having access to performance pay, no longer having to pay union dues and not being subject to labour action or strike.

ACFO-ACAF’s dues are amongst the lowest compared to other public service unions and may end up saving you money in the long run, should you ever need representation in case of a grievance or complaint.

Additionally, ACFO-ACAF members have never been on strike.

Drawbacks of an unrepresented position

It’s important to give thought to some of the disadvantages of being in an unrepresented position.

Unrepresented employees are not subject to a Collective Agreement

First and foremost, unrepresented employees are not subject to a Collective Agreement, which guides many of the terms of your employment, such as leave, work conditions and pay rates. In an unrepresented position, your terms of employment are dictated by employer directives rather than through collective bargaining. You can find the Directives on Terms and Conditions of Employment for Certain Excluded and Unrepresented Groups and Levels here.

Loss of access to ACFO-ACAF Labour Relations team

Additionally, when you are no longer an ACFO-ACAF member, you lose access to advice from and representation by our Labour Relations team. Employees in unrepresented positions are required to follow the departmental grievance/complaint processes but must do so without representation unless they choose to hire their own legal representation.

Hiring your own lawyer to represent you in a dispute at work means you are responsible for paying their fees (usually charged at an hourly rate). Grievance and complaint processes are often complex, which can make it very costly to fund the services offered to ACFO-ACAF members.

Changes in pay structure and salary

Finally, employees in unrepresented positions are not subject to the same stepped pay structure as represented employees. Their rates of pay are dictated by Treasury Board and available here.

The salary of employees moving to an unrepresented position is based on the salary in their previous represented position, as determined by the relevant Collective Agreement. From there, pay increases are less predictable. Employees in unrepresented positions don’t receive an increase on their work anniversary. Instead, annual salary increases are linked to their performance agreement result. Once an employee reaches the maximum salary rate of the position, increases are paid in a pensionable lump sum. Additionally, unrepresented employees are unable to charge overtime.

Knowing about all the changes you may face when moving into an unrepresented position will help you make a more informed choice for you and your career.

The choice is yours

Ultimately the choice to move into an unrepresented position is up to you, but ACFO-ACAF is here to help if you’re still unsure. Along with considering all of these benefits and drawbacks, we recommend speaking to someone who has experienced moving from a represented to an unrepresented position in order to make the choice that is right for you. Please feel free to reach out to our Labour Relations team at labourrelations@acfo-acaf.com if you’re considering an unrepresented position and would like more information.