Public Service: Return to the workplace

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Now that we’re starting to see the light at the end of the pandemic and all three levels of government are starting to remove COVID-19 restrictions, employer is starting to talk about returning to the workplace.

Transport Canada

At Transport Canada, the return to the workplace will be completed through a Workplace Arrangement Agreement (WAA). The WAA is completed through an online app similar to the PSPM app used for performance management. The app will take the employee through a series of questions and help determine if the employee wants to return to the office full-time on-site, full-time remote, or a hybrid of the two. Management reports that full-time remote will only be available in special circumstances and it’s not their intention to have the majority of the workforce working remotely on a full-time basis.

If an employee decides to go with full-time on-site, the application will help them go through the process of setting hours of work and work location. There is an option for the employee to select a work location that’s different from the location they were hired into. We recommend that members keep the site they were hired into. Each position in the public service is “geo-coded” to a specific work location, it’s that location that things like travel are based on. Selecting a location that’s different from the location your position is “geo-coded” to, will create a difference between the headquarters location used for travel and other National Joint Council directives and your actual work location; the gap will cause issues with travel in particular. If you are interested in moving locations, discuss this with your manager and ask them to take the extra step of moving your position’s “geo-code” to your desired location.

If an employee decides that a hybrid Workplace Arrangement Agreement is the best fit for them, they will be led through a series of questions that will identify your telework location (generally a household), and the workplace. The workplace needs to be a federal government building and, as discussed above, should match the location for which your position is “geo-coded.” The questionnaire will address occupational health and safety concerns, hours of work, modes of communication, etc.

The goal of these agreements is that they are equitable, transparent, and based on trust so that employees can select the best program for their well-being, performance, and work-life balance while still ensuring service and program delivery. The WAA should be specific to the individual; the intent is not for managers to set specific working conditions or schedules for entire teams (i.e., the entire team is to report to the office on these specific days). Management is aiming for all employees to have entered into WAAs before June 17th, 2022 with a review to be completed in the first week of September.

We’re working with Transport Canada management and the National Joint Council to sort out the gaps between things like the Travel Directive and the Workplace Arrangement Agreement but there is still a long way to go. We’ll continue to monitor the implementation of this program and we need your input in order to let management know how the system is working. Let us know what you think.

Transportation Safety Board

While there is a clear plan for the members working for Transport Canada, the future is not as certain for the TSB. We don’t have any information on the TSB’s plan to return to the workplace. Our next union-management consultation meeting is on April 4th and we’ll be asking for the plan. Once we have more information, we’ll update this article.

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