FAQ: Business Resumption Directive

What is the Government doing to minimize disruptions to its operations in the context of COVID-19?

Business Continuity Management is conducted systematically and comprehensively to provide reasonable assurance that continuity of government operations can be maintained during situations that may disrupt normal operations and that the Government of Canada can maintain the delivery of critical programs and services. The Policy on Government Security identifies the requirements for federal departments and agencies to establish business continuity plans.

Where can I find out more about DND/CAF’s Business Resumption Directive?

The most up-to-date guidance and direction for business resumption can be found in the latest CDS/DM Directive. It provides guiding principles and expectations for business resumption to L1s.

Activities have been resuming across DND/CAF, but cases are now on the rise in many regions across the country. What is the contingency plan for addressing the resurgence of COVID-19 cases?

The Defence Team’s approach to resumption of business activities across DND/CAF will be tailored to the circumstances at hand and can be adapted as required to ensure that critical force generation activities continue while protecting the health, safety, security and overall well-being of our personnel.

We have been planning and preparing to react to for additional resurgences and waves and BCPs can be reactivated as required. PHM, PPE and other mitigation protocols will be strictly adhered to. All provincial, territorial, regional, municipal, and host nation restrictions will also be adhered to unless required to do otherwise in the authorized execution of a specific duty. Broad ranging returns to the workplace will continue to depend on local restrictions and guidance. To keep our workplaces safe, all Defence Team members must report immediately if they believe that they have contracted or been exposed to COVID-19 and they must comply with public health directed testing and isolation/quarantine procedures. Furthermore, the Defence Team will continue to leverage opportunities to work remotely where possible.

We will consider suspending activities again temporarily if they are no longer safe to conduct. The anticipated benefits of physically returning to the workplace must be carefully weighed against the potential risk of a COVID-19 outbreak.

Restrictions, the availability of PPE, the local status of COVID-19, and many other factors will be taken into consideration when making these decisions.? The CAF must be able to operate and train where COVID-19 still exists, but we must also be able to do so while protecting ourselves, our families and others in the communities where we reside.

If I deploy a team of personnel domestically on a critical task, what precautions must be adhered to? If while or on completion of that deployment, a member becomes symptomatic, or tests positive, is there a centralized funding mechanism to cover costs of extending deployments for isolation?

The DM/CDS Joint Directive on Public Health Measures and Personal Protection provides specific direction for what measures must be taken to protect CAF members and Department of National Defence Personnel. This directive includes decision making tools to help identify what public health measures must be implemented, and what specific Personnel Protective Equipment (PPE) must be used based on the nature of the tasks and potential COVID-19 related hazards. Regarding funding, mechanisms have been made available within the CAF and DND to identify COVID-19 related funding pressures, and any specific questions or requirements for funding should be addressed to your L1 comptroller.

Is my chain of command allowed to make me go back to work full-time, even though nobody else from my unit has to?

Until we return to normal operations, units will only have its members return to work if there is an operational or training imperative. However, the related conditions that will determine this return to work imperative will be governed by your chain of command in what we expect to be a fair and impartial manner. We ask that if you have issues or concerns with the related sequencing or scheduling to please engage with your supervisor.

What is DND/CAF's posture on resuming volunteer activities in their community?

Defence Team members have a strong connection with the volunteer sector in Canada and are often the primary organizers and supporters of volunteer organizations. The CoC is to assess CAF members’ requests to return to volunteer activities to ensure that Force Protection measures are the highest priority, and that all P/T PHMs and additional direction specific to Defence Team members can be respected before any volunteer activity is undertaken.

What accommodations are being planned in the BRP to address high risk staff (such as older and immunocompromised individuals)?

We recognize that there will be stress and anxiety related to returning to the workplace and that feelings towards returning will be different for each employee depending on their personal circumstances. If staff are able to perform their duties from home, supervisors are encouraged to explore this option. If you must be on site as business resumes, rest assured that all public health advisories and measures are being implemented. We recommend that you read through the provided information demonstrating the measures that have been and are being taken to protect all Defence Team members' health and safety.

Work From Home (WFH) practices remain available to protect the workforce. Careful consideration is to be given to members who are experiencing unique challenges at home, if some form of accommodation is not granted. The option for telework is determined by the local Chain of Command based upon the needs for on-site work and the special circumstances of individual personnel.

If you are concerned that you are being put at risk, please raise the issue with your supervisor and/or local Chain of Command. If the issue is not resolved to your satisfaction, the next step is to contact Conflict and Complaint Management Service (CCMS), who will support your issue. Finally, you may also submit a grievance in accordance with QR&O Ch 7. Please see the ICCM website here: Integrated Conflict and Complaint Management Services.

If you or your team members need to talk to someone for assistance coping with the stress and anxiety of the situation, there are a number of tools and resources available for you on the Defence Team COVID-19 Mental Health & Wellness Page.

My entire building has declared every part of regular work is critical, why is there so much mention of critical functions if everything is considered critical?

While many jobs within the Defence Team are suited to working from home, many roles are not. Because of the wide-range of functions each team and building serves, local chains of command and supervisors have been granted flexibility to make decisions about returning to the workplace. Questions about these decisions should be discussed with your supervisor, as they will have insight into the regional specifics that were considered in that decision.

Before COVID-19, many Defence Team members received training/paid for training to upgrade their Bilingual profile. Where can we find updated DND guidelines for SLE testing during COVID?

Initially during the COVID-19 pandemic, federal departments put alternative testing methods in place to ensure timely staffing of critical business continuity positions. As of July 1, 2020, these alternative testing methods are available for all other types of requests. However, priority will continue to be given to departments and agencies staffing positions that are related to COVID-19 or that ensure the effective functioning of the Government of Canada.

If you require an SLE evaluation upon completion of your language training, you will be tested through the current in-house testing program but will need to be re-assessed by the PSC once the restrictions have been lifted. If you are not currently part of a staffing process or your position is not part of the COVID-19 situation, you should send your request to the SLT-FLS@forces.gc.ca positional mailbox where a member of the team will follow up directly with the PSC.

Employees who have mental health challenges or who are neurodiverse and who have been away from work for a long period of time may experience challenges when returning to the office. Are there any plans to help such people readjust to working in an office?

We understand that those experiencing mental health challenges, including neuro-diversity, may benefit from greater support during their return-to-work process. We also recognize that neuro-diversity is part of a diverse workforce and is a competitive advantage for National Defence. At National Defence, we are committed to providing a healthy, safe, respectful, and inclusive workplace. There are many resources available to help employees transition back to the office in a healthy and safe manner.

We encourage employees to first seek support and guidance with their managers and LR directly. These resources are readily available to accommodate employees impacted by mental health challenges upon their return to work.

Here are some additional resources that can help employees re-integrate back to work and to make the transition a little easier.

  • Employees experiencing mental health challenges can reach out to the Employee Assistance Services, a confidential counseling, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at 1-800-268-7708.
  • Employees may want to reach out to a peer, or a resource person who can provide confidential, active listening skills, and resources. Referral agents are available from Monday to Friday from 08:00 to 16:00 and can be reached at 1-833-747-6363.
  • Employees can also access LifeSpeak https://caf.lifespeak.com/ (password: canada), a wellness digital platform available to Defence Team members. There is a section on ‘Disability & Absence Management’ that may be of value for employees with mental health challenges who are returning to work.
  • The Office of Disability Management (ODM) is also available to help employees and can be reached at 1-833-893-3388.

Has GBA+ been applied to the DND response to the pandemic, particularly in how employees’ evaluations (PSPAs and PERs) will be affected by not being able to report to work due to childcare issues? How will women’s careers not suffer a lasting impact?

DND, the CAF and its 100,000+ personnel are organized by function and group, each responsible for thousands of Defence Team Members. During pandemic response planning, each of these groups underwent an extensive process to plan for Business Continuity and Business Resumption. During the Business Continuity phase, each group was responsible to ensure the safety and well-being of its personnel. GBA+ analyses played a key factor in the development of each of the L1-level business plans. Particularly, analyses ensured guiding principles in the questions being considered and determination of which services were deemed essential during the early period of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the Defence Team moved into the phase of Business Resumption planning, GBA+ analyses were also an integral component of each group’s work in developing a plan to resume an increased number of core services or activities. DGDI, as an enabler, played a key role in participating in the development and review of 10 different plans, for L1 groups.

If you have concerns about how GBA+ was applied to your L1’s Business Resumption plan, we encourage you to speak with your supervisor or chain of command.

If someone is requested by their supervisor to go into the office to work once a week because they need to access equipment that they can’t work with from home. Can they refuse to go into the office to work?

The decisions about who should return to the office will be governed by supervisors and chains of command in what we expect to be a fair and impartial manner, mapping employee availability and preferences for remote work against operational requirements. We would encourage you to discuss your specific circumstances with your supervisor or local CoC to find the best solution. Your managers, supervisors and Chains of Command should be engaged with the local Occupational Health and Safety committee and/or Health and Safety Representatives.

If you provide a critical service but cannot report to the workplace after discussion with your supervisor and a review of all the Public Health Measures that have been put in place, you may exercise your right to refuse work under the Canada Labour Code while in the workplace. Contact your General Safety Officer, General Safety (D Safe G, VCDS) or OHSSecretariatSST@forces.gc.ca

You can read more about the decision making processes and what you can do if you do not agree with the decision in this Maple Leaf article

Where can I find a complete chronological list of all Tasking Orders and Frag Os associated with COVID on the DWAN?

All Tasking Orders and FragOs can be found on the Defence Team Intranet, under the “Orders, directives, and regulations” section. Please review the latest CDS/DM Directive for updated guidance and information.

My section has started to return to the office to foster team cohesion. However, the building guidelines say we are not to visit other cubicles, must maintain 2m distance, etc. What is the purpose of returning to the office if we cannot interact with each other as per the PHMs?

The owner of the building and the chain of command occupying the building are two different sources of authority. Chain of command may see many advantages or requirements in physically working at the workplace in spite of restrictions by owner of the building. The pandemic situation can evolve quickly and may differ from one province to another, from one specific region to another or even one specific space of work to another. You should bring this question to the attention of your chain of command and discuss with them.

Are you able to clarify guidance on exception requests for industry/contractors from CDS/DM Directive for the Resumption of Sustained Activities in a COVID-19 Environment? Is every contractor accessing a DND Establishment required to have an exception request submitted to the L1?

Yes, according to the CDS/DM Directive for the Resumption of Sustained Activities in a COVID-19 Environment, face-to-face engagements and visits may be conducted outside of and within Defence Establishments by exception and only under authority of L1 leaders.

Exemption requests will be assessed and approved by the relevant FG/L1 based on recommendations from the local Base/Wing Commander, with approval based on public health data and regional recommendations with regard to community transmission of COVID-19 and whether appropriate social distancing and PHMs are in place and adhered to.

Are instructors authorized to perform inspections in barracks while members are away on course during COVID?

According to the most recent CDS/DM Directive, all personnel involved in training will have completed all necessary education concerning Non-medical Masks (NMMs) and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). In a situation where Public Health Measures (PHMs), such as physical distancing, cannot be respected by virtue of training necessity, leaders are to ensure NMM/PPE protocols are followed.

Effective communication across the entire Defence Team is essential to establish an understanding of how to mitigate the risks of returning to critical tasks such as training, that are necessary to maintain Force Readiness while continuying on necessary operations and education. If you have a concern, you should first raise it with your local supervisor or Chain of Command. If you feel your concerns are not being addressed, you may reach out to your local Conflict and Complaint Management Services Centre for resolution options. The Integrated Conflict and Complaint Management (ICCM) program will work with you to clarify misunderstanding or address conflictual situation if required.

Why was it during the first wave, releases were postponed up to 6 months prior to 31 Aug 2020 and now during the resurgence, there is no delay in releases? Will this be considered again for the safety of personnel?

According to the CANFORGEN 050/20 CMP 026/20 031329Z APR 20, VOLUNTARY DELAY OF RELEASES FROM THE CANADIAN ARMED FORCES DUE TO COVID-19, release from the CAF was one of many services impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The delayed release policy was intended to support CAF members, their families, and provincial and territorial health authorities until more was known and the situation stabilized, with a target date of no later than 31 August, 2020. If you chose not to delay your release under CANFORGEN 050/20, other delays were to be expected owing to decreased administrative support and reduced staffing in units.

CAF wants to ensure you have a successful transition to civilian life, which will be more difficult in the present circumstances as employment, health care, and other services will potentially be delayed due to limited services in the COVID-19 environment. You are encouraged to discuss the issue of extending your delayed release date with your Chain of Command. The decision will be made by your Chain of Command in consultation with the authorized release authorities. If you have further questions about CANFORGEN 050/10, please contact the Release Benefit Administration (RBA) and/or the Chief of Military Personnel Administrative Response Centre (ARC) (1-833-445-1182).

Your understanding and flexibility during these challenging times are greatly appreciated.

What should we do if our supervisor is not aware that their work team has been exhausted since returning to work full time because they are anxious about the number of employees working in the same area? Do we have any recourse or help somewhere?

Even though employees are always encouraged to discuss their problems openly with their superiors, if this does not work and you are represented, you can contact your union representative. You can also contact Labour Relations through HRConnect. To help you manage your stress and anxiety, there are a number of resources available at the following link: http://hrciv-rhciv.mil.ca/en/employee-assistance-program.page.

What accommodations are being planned in the BRP to address high-risk staff (such as older and immunocompromised individuals)?

We recognize that there will be stress and anxiety related to returning to the workplace and that feelings towards returning will be different for each employee depending on their personal circumstances. If staff are able to perform their duties from home, supervisors are encouraged to explore this option. If you must be on site as business resumes, rest assured that all public health advisories and measures are being implemented. We recommend that you read through the provided information demonstrating the measures that have been and are being taken to protect all Defence Team members’ health and safety.

Work From Home (WFH) practices remain available to protect the workforce. Careful consideration is to be given to members who are experiencing unique challenges at home, if some form of accommodation is not granted. The option for telework is determined by the local Chain of Command based upon the needs for on-site work and the special circumstances of individual personnel.

If you are concerned that you are being put at risk, please raise the issue with your supervisor and/or local Chain of Command. If the issue is not resolved to your satisfaction, the next step is to contact Conflict and Complaint Management Service (CCMS), who will support your issue. Finally, you may also submit a grievance in accordance with QR&O Ch 7. Please see the ICCM website here: a href="/en/department-national-defence/services/benefits-military/conflict-misconduct/integrated-conflict-complaint-management.html">Integrated Conflict and Complaint Management Services.

If you or your team members need to talk to someone for assistance coping with the stress and anxiety of the situation, there are a number of tools and resources available for you on the Defence Team COVID-19 Mental Health & Wellness Page.

What are the guidelines for employees and CAF members to justify working from home? If my position can be done remotely do I have to return to the workplace?

While the pandemic has demonstrated much can be done through remote work for DND/CAF personnel, not all tasks can be accomplished this way. Several factors are considered in determining the feasibility of remote work, including local Public Health Measures (PHMs), operational requirements of in-person presence, infrastructure changes, dependent care responsibilities, vaccination status, and mental health challenges. While DND/CAF workplaces and activities are carefully and deliberately reopened, leadership will continue to steadfastly support and protect the health of the Defence Team. For more information please read the CDS/DM Directive on DND/CAF Reopening Strategy (Summer 2021 Posture).

Please have an open and honest conversation with your manager or direct chain of command to determine what the best work arrangement will be for you and your team moving forward. If the issue is not resolved to your satisfaction, you can contact your local Conflict & Complaint Management Service. If you cannot resolve your issue locally, you may submit a Grievance under Queen’s Regulations and Orders (QR&O) Chapter 7.

I have heard that my employer has to give public service employees two weeks’ notice to return from remote work to on-site work. Where is the reference for this?

According to the CDS/DM Directive on DND/CAF Reopening Strategy (Summer 2021 posture), national and local union consultation will need to occur a minimum of 14 days before employees return to the workplace to ensure occupational health and safety requirements are met. You can find more information on the Union of National Defence Employees website.

As DND/CAF personnel, you are expected to return to work when informed by your manager or chain of command to do so. There is no reference stating that a manager/chain of command must provide two weeks’ notice for returning to work after a union consultation. DND/CAF leadership are steadfastly protecting the health and operational readiness of Defence Team personnel, and will consider whether on-site work is necessary, and whether any advanced notice may be required, when deliberating about returning to work.

Commanders and public service managers have been granted flexibility in business resumption and returning to work, and you are encouraged to have a thorough discussion concerning returning to the workplace. If you need help understanding your rights and responsibilities concerning returning to work, please raise the issue with your manager or chain of command.

Now that we have seen that many roles can be filled to a high standard through remote work, is there an appetite to decrease the number of relocations? Will DND/CAF re-evaluate the need to have people relocate?

While the impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on relocations continues to evolve, relocation remains a necessary part of both the development of personnel and the fulfillment of job related needs. Remote work, virtual work, hybrid models and other flexible work arrangements will continue to develop and play a larger role in the post-pandemic context, but not all tasks can be accomplished this way. While it is reasonable to expect the pandemic context will decrease the number of relocations and increase the availability of remote work for the foreseeable future, it is too early to tell how relocations will be affected in the post-pandemic environment.

All Defence Team members are encouraged to have open and honest conversations with their managers and chains of command to determine what work arrangements best meet their needs and the needs of their team.

What are the protocols around rapid testing? When is it used and what happens if you get a result other than negative?

Rapid Antigen Testing (RADT) adds an additional layer of risk mitigation to the Layered Risk Mitigation Strategy. The Directive for DND/CAF COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Detection Testing (RADT) outlines how rapid COVID-19 testing will be implemented in certain workplaces and facilities through COVID-19 rapid testing kits. RADT will be available to all Defence Team members and to individuals granted access to Defence establishments. It is a self-administered swab conducted in a space that protects Defence Team members’ privacy and that will require a signed Consent and Disclosure form submitted in accordance with the Privacy Act and Privacy Regulations. A presumptive positive result may require additional testing based on provincial/territorial and regional directives. If you have any further questions concerning the RADT program, please raise the issue with your supervisor or direct chain of command.

What is the protocol if an individual in the office tests positive for COVID-19?

All Defence Team personnel must report immediately if they believe they have contracted or been exposed to COVID-19 and must follow all public health directed testing and isolation/quarantine procedures.

A presumptive positive result may require additional confirmation testing based on provincial/territorial and regional directives. For public service employees, this will be testing through the local public health system. For CAF members, it will mean coordinating with the Base or Wing clinic.

In accordance with the advice of public health authorities, additional procedures will be followed. These include contact tracing, self-isolation and extra sanitization of the workplace. Health authorities will continue to provide advice on appropriate measures to take to protect the health of all personnel and to stop the spread of the virus.

We have received a directive from our Chain of Command saying that all CAF members must return to the workplace full-time, but DND employees can still telework. Why is there a discrepancy here?

The pandemic has demonstrated that much can be done through a dispersed and remote workforce, but not all tasks can be completed this way. The nature of some DND/CAF positions requires that they be done in-person. While deliberating if in-person work is needed, managers and supervisors must consider the type of work, local Public Health Measures, the composition of the workforce, requirements for in-person presence, infrastructure changes, and mental health challenges.

All Defence Team members are encouraged to have an open and honest conversation with their managers and chains of command to understand what is expected of them, as well as discuss the possibility of remote work. If you have an issue with the work arrangement at your location, you may contact your local Conflict & Complaint Management Service. If you cannot resolve your issue locally, you may submit a Grievance under Queen’s Regulations and Orders Chapter 7.

The posture implemented at the Director Land Equipment Program authorizes up to 65% presence in the workplace. Some of our members that were under imposed restriction released their apartments and are now working from home. Can we oblige them to come back to the workplace and rent apartments or should we wait?

While the Government of Canada intends to require vaccination for DND/CAF members, as announced on August 13, 2021, until a sufficient percentage of the global population is fully vaccinated and the risk of transmission drops significantly, DND/CAF will continue to apply the Layered Risk Mitigation Strategy in the workplace. Where possible, DND/CAF personnel should continue to work remotely.

If you are authorized, based on provincial/territorial and regional public health guidance, to have a 65 percent presence in the workplace and it is not possible for your team to work remotely or with a hybrid or flexible work arrangement, you should make every effort to balance operational needs with the needs of your team and the individual circumstances of personnel.

For more detailed guidance, please consult your manager or Chain of Command. More information on returning to the workplace can be found in the 2021 Summer Guidance for Defence Public Service Employees & Managers and the CDS/DM Directive on DND/CAF Reopening Strategy (summer 2021 posture).

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