Tag Archives: telework

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

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Canada Revenue Agency, and federal departments to implement the letter of agreement and modernize the government’s outdated telework directive.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Treasury Board developed draft guidance for departments to use when developing the panels and their terms of reference. PSAC’s key feedback on the draft guidance was to ensure that the scope of the panels focuses on the Directive on Telework, requests for telework are reviewed on a case-by-case basis, and the employee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We are in discussions with Treasury Board to review and modernize the outdated Directive on Telework.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.

Government must stop flawed hybrid work plan for federal public service workers

Despite a week of denials, Treasury Board announced today it would unilaterally impose a restrictive hybrid work policy for all federal public service workers in the core administration.

This blanket policy mandates workers to come into the office 2-3 days per week, or 40-60% of their regular working hours; regardless of the operational requirements of their job.

The policy comes into effect January 16, 2023, and will be fully implemented by March 31. Agencies and separate employers have been urged to put in place similar policies.

The government’s decision doesn’t have the best interest of workers at heart and is completely at odds with the direction the government has been moving towards for remote work.

It’s unacceptable that right before the holidays, workers will be scrambling to make new arrangements for child care, transportation, and possibly relocating if they’ve been hired remotely and are now being asked to come into the office.

We demand that the government halt their plan. PSAC is reviewing all our options in response to this announcement, and will take the necessary steps to protect our members’ ability to work remotely.

Federal public service workers have proven they can deliver the services Canadians depend on, whether working remotely or in the office.

Remote work must be negotiated at the bargaining table 

Remote work is a key issue at the bargaining table for PSAC’s 165,000 federal workers this round of bargaining, and unilaterally changing the terms and conditions of our members’ employment during negotiations is an egregious violation of workers’ collective bargaining rights.

The lack of clarity around the policy raises more questions than answers, and PSAC does not have confidence the government can put in place the health and safety requirements and the necessary tools for all federal public service workers to return to the office in the new year.

Members who have already returned to the office have told us they’ve come into the office without desks or chairs available for them, or returned to empty buildings to spend the entire day on video calls with colleagues working elsewhere.

We will continue to provide updates to PSAC members as we fight to protect our members’ rights.

This article was first posted on the PSAC website.

Telework at CBSA: Responding to the Agency’s hybrid work model

Photo of CIU flag

Dear members,

Over the past few weeks, the implementation of the new hybrid work model by CBSA has once again demonstrated the Agency’s inability to properly assess the needs of — and consult with — its employees before enforcing sweeping policy changes. While nuance and flexibility should have been common sense, the Agency’s preference for an ill-suited, one-size-fits-all approach has been of great concern, and we’ve been hard at work to hold the employer to task.

What many of you have shared with us is troubling: You’ve been asked to return to the office with very little notice and without any clear or consistent explanation as to why it was necessary to do so. More egregious is the blatant lack of interest from the Agency to pursue a consultation process that would have accounted for both CBSA’s service requirements and its employees needs — or to even issue comprehensive guidelines to managers — before implementing this policy.

As things stand, what is clear is that the Agency’s hybrid work model is being applied without rhyme or reason, with some workplaces going so far as justifying mandatory in-person attendance with the need to ‘socialize around the water cooler’.

At the end of the day, the sad yet unsurprising reality is that all of this flies in the face of the Treasury Board Secretariat’s very own guidance on telework and a hybrid workforce, and that much of this could have been avoided if the Agency had not opted once again to skirt its responsibility to consult with both union and staff.

This situation formed much of the discussion at the recent CIU National Board of Directors meeting, and we are working toward seeing your concerns addressed through different means, including the possibility of grievances should it prove necessary. PSAC, too, has committed to following up with Treasury Board on the matter, and the issue of telework remains a major priority at the bargaining table. Our goal is clear: The Agency must not only provide clear reasoning as to why, how, and when an employee needs to report to the workplace before implementing any sort of hybrid work arrangement, it must also genuinely listen to the needs and concerns of its workforce.

This can be a complex process, but it is the only way to ensure employees are treated in a fair and equitable manner. Many of you have worked remotely throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, doing so admirably and continuing to serve the Canadian public to the highest standard without any disruption in service, making telework a success story. The Customs and Immigration Union is incredibly proud of the work that you do, and we are here to ensure that you are treated in a manner befitting your dedication to your duties. Do not hesitate to reach out to your Branch President should you require any help or guidance on this matter — we’re here to help.

Stay tuned for more information as things progress.

In solidarity,

Mark Weber
National President
Customs and Immigration Union