PSAC working to implement remote work agreement, joint panels for federal public service workers

November 20, 2023

As part of the last round of negotiations for 155,000 federal public service workers, PSAC secured stronger remote work language that protects workers from arbitrary decisions from the employer.

The letter of agreement we negotiated alongside the collective agreements will ensure members have their remote work requests assessed individually and have access to review remote work arrangements and prevent “one-size-fits-all” mandates in the federal public service.

Since the collective agreements were signed, PSAC has been working with Treasury Board, Canada Revenue Agency, and federal departments to implement the letter of agreement and modernize the government’s outdated telework directive.

While we know this process will take time to fully implement, there are early indications that Treasury Board is pushing back on the letter of agreement, although it remains to be seen what their final position will be.

If the government fails to meaningfully collaborate on implementing the improvements in the letter of agreement within a reasonable timeframe, PSAC is prepared to take legal action to expedite the process and ensure members’ rights are protected.

Joint union-management panels on remote work

PSAC has been working with components and federal government departments to create joint panels that will review employee remote work grievances. The panels will provide recourse for members who are dissatisfied with a remote work decision.

Treasury Board developed draft guidance for departments to use when developing the panels and their terms of reference. PSAC’s key feedback on the draft guidance was to ensure that the scope of the panels focuses on the Directive on Telework, requests for telework are reviewed on a case-by-case basis, and the employee is the one to refer their denied grievance to the departmental joint panel.

Modernizing the directive on telework

We are in discussions with Treasury Board to review and modernize the outdated Directive on Telework. The last version was developed in 2019/20, prior to the pandemic, and doesn’t reflect the evolution of remote work over the last three years. Our aim is to ensure the policy aligns with the needs of our members.

PSAC has established a reference committee of representatives from the components to coordinate the work underway to both set up the joint panels and guide the consultation of the Joint Consultation Committee (JCC) on telework.

We expect to see a serious commitment to meaningful consultation on our joint recommendations for modernizing the directive when we meet with Treasury Board this month.

Challenging remote work arrangements

Once fully implemented, the letter of agreement will grant more protection for workers around remote work agreements. The process to challenge decisions will be fully in place once the joint panels are established and the dispute process is finalized.

We will continue to keep members up to date as these panels are developed and the grievance process is established.

This article was first posted on the PSAC website.

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