FAQ: Leave Requests and Benefits

As a Manager/Supervisor, when should I grant leave with pay for other reasons (code 699)?

Effective November 15, 2021, in accordance with direction from the Office of the Chief of Human Resources Officer (OCHRO), requests for Leave With Pay for Other Reasons (code 699) will be assessed on whether the employee remains available for work taking into consideration their vaccination status in accordance with the Policy on C-19 vaccination.

Canada’s progress in vaccinating its population and in implementing effective public health measures, including widely available COVID-19 vaccines and rapid tests, allows the employer to return to the standard application of the provisions of the collective agreements and terms and conditions of employment.

This means that ‘Other Leave with Pay (699)’ will only be available under exceptional circumstances and for temporary usage, and only where existing provisions of the applicable collective agreement or terms and conditions of employment do not apply to the situation. Furthermore, ‘Other Leave with Pay (699)’ is not to be used to supplement the specific negotiated provisions of collective agreements, e.g., where the employee has exhausted their sick leave or family-related responsibilities leave.

Managers must continue to examine individual requests relating to ‘Other Leave With Pay (699)’ on a case by case basis, in consultation with their Labour Relations Advisor.

More detailed information can be found on the Employee Illness and Leave page.

An employee cannot return to work because they are providing care for their child who has some risk factors. Therefore, day care not a possibility. Can they take 699 leave long term or do they have to take an extended leave with income averaging?

If the employee has a duty of care for someone who is high risk, and they remain available to work in accordance with the Policy on C-19 vaccination:

  • the accommodation process must be initiated, if it is not already underway. 699 leave could be provided up until and including November 14, 2021. If there is no possible measure that can be made to allow them to work (e.g., remote work, alternate duties), leave options could also be available as per their collective agreement or terms and conditions of employment.

If all daycares are open, do I need to go back to work as I'm scared for my kids and feel safer watching them as I know they are safe. What if I'm told to go back, can I submit a grievance?

We recognize that there will be stress and anxiety related to returning to the workplace. Remember, the return will be gradual and done respecting all public health measures. We encourage you to discuss your personal situation with your manager to determine the best solution for you and your family. In many cases, flexible work arrangements offer a way to balance home and work duties.

If you 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 HRGo or through HRConnect.

What guiding principles have been developed for managers to use when discussing and evaluating vacation leave during the COVID-19 pandemic?

  • It is expected that managers will make arrangements with employees to fully use their 2020-21 vacation leave within the current fiscal year, as operational requirements permit and in accordance with the applicable collective agreement, with an emphasis on taking vacation leave this summer.
  • Organizations should encourage managers to make arrangements, as practical, to allow critical employees and those who have been working over the past months to take vacation leave over the next few months, such as by finding replacements or temporarily redistributing tasks.
  • Managers should consult their departmental labour relations advisors, relevant collective agreement, or applicable terms and conditions of employment, and determine if they can schedule the vacation leave for their employees.

Why has Op LASER not been designated a Special Duty Operation and all CF members given Hazard Pay?

Operation LASER was declared a Special Duty Operation in CANFORGEN 073/20, released on 27 May 20. This CANFORGEN announced that on 26 May 2020 the Minister of National Defence, in consultation with the Minister of Veterans Affairs Canada, designated Operation LASER as a Special Duty Operation (SDO) to ensure that CAF members have the timeliest access to disability and pension programs under the Veterans Well-being Act. The declaration of an SDO for Op LASER is retroactive to 03 April 20 and will remain in effect until further notice. This designation ensures that all personnel specifically assigned to Op LASER will be able to access benefits relating to any injury or illness sustained, or that has its onset, during their service on Op LASER, any training related to their deployment, any leave, or during final return to their home units.

Compensation and Benefits Instruction (CBI) 205.38 – Exceptional Hazard Allowance, has been amended to compensate Canadian Armed Forces members who are deployed in COVID-19 risk environments. Eligible Canadian Armed Forces members deployed on Operation LASER for service at a Long-Term Care Facility, and members deployed on Op GLOBE deemed to have been exposed to specific COVID-19 threat levels, will receive the allowance. The $78 per day allowance is retroactive to when they commenced their duties, and will be in effect until September 30, 2020.

An employee is refusing to discuss taking vacation leave. The employee has not used and does not expect to use “Other Leave with Pay,” code 699. Is the employee required to take vacation?

The manager should seek to understand why the employee is refusing to discuss scheduling their vacation leave and encourage discussions on how to address any concerns the employee raises on how to manage their vacation leave banks. The employee should be encouraged to take vacation, for their wellbeing. Employees are expected, as they are every year, to use all 2020–21 vacation credits during this fiscal year. If the employee continues to refuse to discuss taking vacation leave, the manager should consult their departmental labour relations advisor, the relevant collective agreement, or applicable terms and conditions of employment, and determine if they can schedule the vacation leave for the employee.

An employee is planning on travelling during their vacation. They would like to stop using vacation leave immediately after returning from travel but will be required to self-isolate. If unable to work remotely, are they eligible for “Other Leave with Pay”, code 699?

The Government of Canada has put in place emergency measures that require mandatory 14-day self-isolation for all persons entering Canada, even if they do not have COVID-19 symptoms. Some provinces and territories may have specific recommendations for self-isolation as well. These efforts will help contain the outbreak and limit the spread of COVID-19 in Canada. Employees should refer to COVID-19 travel advice for the most up-to-date information.

If an employee chooses to travel during their vacation, to affected areas contrary to public health advice or government travel advisories while on vacation leave, they are not be entitled to ‘Other Leave with Pay (699)’. They must advise their manager of their intentions as soon as possible. If the location of travel will require the employee to self-isolate upon return, due to Federal government or provincial/territorial guidance, local public health authority guidance, or departmental practice, the option to work remotely should be explored to determine if it is feasible. In cases where remote work is not possible, the employee will be required to use what leave is available to them during the self-isolation period. “Other leave with pay” will not be available for reasons where an employee voluntarily chooses to travel and will be required to self-isolate on return. The manager must ensure that all their employees are aware of this.

An employee becomes sick with COVID-19 during or within 14 days of returning from vacation. Is the employee eligible for “Other Leave with Pay”, code 699?

If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19 and they are unable to work remotely, they are required to use their sick leave credits. If they do not have enough sick leave credits, they may be advanced sick leave credits in accordance with their collective agreement or terms and conditions of employment.

However, if an employee travels to an area contrary to public health advice or government travel advisories while on vacation leave, they may not be entitled to ‘Other Leave with Pay (699)’ if they become sick during their vacation or within 14 days of their return. The manager must ensure that all their employees are aware of this. In accordance with the relevant collective agreement or other terms and conditions of employment, the period of vacation leave displaced by becoming sick with COVID-19 may either be added to the vacation period, or reinstated for use at a later date, if requested by the employee and approved by the manager. The period of vacation leave displaced by illness would then be replaced by ‘Other Leave with Pay’ if eligible, or sick leave.

What leave options do CAF members have to deal with COVID-19 specific challenges?

The Department of National Defence (DND) and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) take the health and well-being of military and civilian members of the Defence Team seriously and make every effort to protect them from illnesses and injuries. Policies are in place to help members avoid financial hardship while taking the time necessary to recover from illnesses and injuries, or deal with exceptional circumstances that keep them away from work.

On a situational basis, compassionate leave or sick leave may be approved to provide CAF members with sufficient time away from their place of duty when such absence is appropriate as a result of urgent and exceptional personal reasons, including but not limited to:

  • If a member of the CAF has been diagnosed with or has a presumptive case of COVID-19;
  • If a member of the CAF is subjected to a period of observation, without being symptomatic themselves, compassionate leave can be granted in cases where working remotely from home or the observation location is not possible;
  • If they live with/care for a member of the vulnerable population or
  • If a member is experiencing child care challenges.

If any of these apply to you, talk to your supervisor or chain of command about available options.

As mental health is a priority for both DND and GoC as a whole, why is there not a clause for 699 Leave for medically supported mental health leave due to COVID-19?

The Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer (OCHRO), Treasury Board Secretariat has prescribed specific instances for the use of leave with pay for other reasons (699) as they relate to COVID-19. Sick leave is expected to be used for mental health purposes to allow for access to resources and mental health benefits that might be needed by the employee.

Can I deny the use of 699 to a parent that has not actively pursued childcare options, now that these have reopened?

The best course of action is to consult your Labour Relations Advisor. Managers are encouraged to engage employees to better understand their challenges and concerns.

If an immunocompromised individual contracts COVID-19 from workplace contact with an infected individual - supported by contact tracing evidence - what recourse will the immunocompromised person have in terms of workplace accommodation, disability benefits, sick leave or other benefits?

Immunocompromised individuals who have disclosed their condition to their manager prior to contracting COVID-19 will be accommodated and allowed to continue to work from home until such time business in the workplace has resumed for the majority of employees. For any individual (including an immunocompromised person), if COVID-19 is contracted from documented contact with an infected person in the workplace, an Injury on Duty claim should be submitted. While each provincial Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) is currently reviewing their policies as they relate to COVID-19, submission for their review would be most appropriate. If approved, the individual would use Injury on Duty leave (as per Government Employees Compensation Act (GECA) policies) and medical care would be covered by the appropriate WCB.

In the situation where the provincial WCB does not approve the claim, the individual would use their earned / accumulated sick leave until it was exhausted and could make application for Employment Insurance Sickness Benefits (currently administered as CERB). If the absence extends beyond 13 weeks, or the end of available sick leave if longer than 13 weeks, the employee could also apply for Disability Insurance (DI) benefits. If approved, DI would cover approximately 70% of the employee’s salary while deemed disabled from the workplace.

In both scenarios, the employee / manager can reach out to the Office of Disability Management (ODM) for information and support on the processes to apply for benefits. If in a serviced area, a Disability Management Advisor (DMA) will be assigned to guide the processes. Workplace accommodations will move forward as appropriate based on documented functional limitations according to the Duty to Accommodate legislation. This may include, but is not limited to, provision of appropriate personal protective equipment, modified work schedule, or considering of alternative work arrangements, etc.

Regarding the FAQ answer that employees are required to use vacation leave that fiscal year, this provision is not in my collective agreement. I know we can't have more than 35 days credited at end of fiscal, but if it is under 35, I don't understand why we would need to use our leave?

There are various collective agreements within our workforce. Please consult your respective union representative and/or labour relations for assistance in interpreting the various provisions. Most collective agreements allow for the carryover of leave equal to the amount earned that year. Given that your balance is less than the maximum allowed for carryover, other reasons for being asked to use your leave might include operational considerations such as an upcoming increase in workload issues or new projects starting that will curtail management’s ability to grant leave at that time. You are encouraged to speak to your manager and each share plans (ie. if you are saving up vacation time for a future trip, for example) to find a suitable resolution.

Do CAF member need to take annual leave or are they considered on duty if they are required to self-isolate when returning from annual Leave outside of the Atlantic Bubble.

Yes, if you have to self-isolate after a vacation, you will need to use annual leave to do so. Leave can be approved but it must match what is permitted in the province/territory at origin and destination, and what is permitted by local public health authorities.

If I test positive for COVID-19 or am required to self-isolate because of a possible exposure, what leave should I use?

If a member of the CAF is subjected to a period of observation, without being symptomatic themselves, compassionate leave can be granted in cases where working remotely from home or the observation location is not possible.

For public servants, if the employee is experiencing symptoms that could mean they are infected with COVID-19, they must follow the guidance of their local public health authority. Do not report to a worksite; if possible, work remotely. Get tested as soon as possible. If remote work is not available, or they are too sick to work, they are expected to use their existing sick leave credits.

If they have tested positive for COVID-19, they must follow the guidance of their local public health authority. Do not report to a worksite; if possible, work remotely.

If they are too ill to work some or all of their hours, they are expected to use their existing sick leave credits.

If they do not have enough sick leave credits, they may be advanced sick leave credits in accordance with their collective agreement or terms and conditions of employment.

Defence Team members are encouraged to discuss their options with their supervisor or chain of command.

For more detailed information, please visit https://www.canada.ca/en/government/publicservice/covid-19/employee-illness-leave.html.

Can my CO approve me to work remotely from home in another province (outside my geographical area)? I live in Ontario, would like to work remotely from Nova Scotia for 2 weeks while in Quarantine. Then proceed on my vacation to see family and friends on leave 2 weeks following quarantine.

Non-duty related domestic travel will be authorized through the normal process used in units and organizations. All periods of self-isolation or quarantine required by local public health authorities at the travel destination, and at any points in between must be covered under annual leave. If required to self-isolate or quarantine on return to place of residence, COC will be responsible for managing whether or not telework is feasible for the isolation period.

Should a member elect to take leave that requires them to self-isolate at a destination they have chosen to travel to, the self-isolation time will need to be considered in plans and will be taken as annual leave with all self-isolation costs incurred at the member's expense. Please speak with your CO directly to discuss your options and specific circumstances.

If a civilian employee has symptoms, receives a negative test result, but still has symptoms, can they return to work immediately? If not, what type of leave should they be on (699/sick/other)?

Employees, regardless of receiving a negative test results, should only return to the workplace once they are symptom free. Employees who can work from home until symptom free should be given the option to do so.

If an employee tests negative for COVID-19 but displays symptoms which could also be attributed to other medical reasons and has been advised as such by an attending physician, the employee should use sick leave.

Military members are required to expend all annual leave regardless of lockdowns and travel restrictions. This particularly affects single members who have no family in the area and no meaningful activities to participate in during lockdowns. Is there any plan to revisit this policy?

There is not an intent on revisiting the annual leave policy in QR&O 16. Whether there is a pandemic or not, COs may order their members on leave at any time during the Fiscal Year (FY) in order to expend their annual leave by 31 Mar of each FY. Members are required to use their full annual leave entitlement each FY unless an imperative military requirement precluded them from doing so. In which case, their annual leave would be accumulated up to their maximum entitlement. Annual leave provides a needed break from being on duty and thinking about work, it could be unfavourable physical, and mentally if members did not take time off from their duties. Members are encouraged to use this opportunity to explore their local regions

Some units have returned to work using 699 leave for those employees who are vulnerable/unable to work. However, with little clarity on the policy, employees may be benefiting from it in that they are getting paid for no work complete since they can't work from home. Will more policy be provided?

If the employee is vulnerable, as confirmed by their medical practitioner, and they remain available to work in accordance with the Policy on C-19 vaccination:

  • the accommodation process must be initiated as soon as possible, if it is not already underway. 699 leave could be provided up until and including November 14, 2021. After this date, departments should consult with departmental representatives on alternate work arrangements or other measures to enable the employee to work.

If the employee is unable to work from home, ‘Other Leave With Pay (699)’ could be granted in very limited situations if:

  • they do not have access to the tools (equipment, software, internet) to work remotely.
  • they work requires them to be onsite, however
    • their building is closed, or
    • there are restrictions on the number of employees that can be onsite at one time, or
    • alternate duties, or alternate work locations, are not available to them.

Can an employee use Leave Code 699 when taking a child to get tested for COVID-19?

The employee should discuss using paid leave options with their manager, in accordance with their collective agreement or terms and conditions of employment, such as leave with pay for family-related responsibilities when the request is for someone in their care.

Depending on the advice and requirements of local public health authorities, the employee may also need to be tested and may need to self-isolate given that they are in close contact with the child requiring testing. In this type of situation, it’s important to determine if the employee can work remotely and/or with flexible work hours. If there is no possible measure that can be made to allow them to work, leave options could be available as per their collective agreement or terms and conditions of employment.

If a civilian employee is sick and diagnosed with COVID-19, does she have to take her sick leave first or is she entitled to code 699?

In accordance with direction issued by the Office of the Chief Human Resource Officer (OCHRO), if an employee has tested positive for COVID-19 and are too ill to work remotely, they are to use their sick leave.

If they do not have enough sick leave credits, they may be advanced sick leave credits in accordance with their collective agreement or terms and conditions of employment.

In all cases, managers should engage their Labour Relations Advisor to discuss the specifics of their employees’ circumstances. Managers are also reminded to be compassionate and mindful of their employees’ mental health and wellbeing.

I am class A employee and was asked to stay home for a period of ten days while HMCS Tecumseh was cleaned, due to a positive COVID-19 test result. Employees (Class A and B) were required to be tested as first points of contact. Am I eligible to claim missed days of duty due to closure?

We would advise that you need to engage your chain of command who will in turn engage the approving authority to confirm if you are entitled to be paid for missed duty because of the requirement for you to quarantine.

CANFORGEN 059/20 speaks to Res F compensation and benefit changes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic response, but limits its applicability to 18 May 2020.

The duties one is asked to perform by their chain of command can include duties performed at home regardless of component or class of service. However, if the member was not ordered to perform any training or duties, but was simply stood down, then the member is probably not entitled to pay unless they were performing military duties from home that were ordered and approved for pay in advance.

This is a CO or potentially formation/L1 matter related to management as opposed to a policy interpretation matter.

I am an employee working at an isolated post. Normally I receive a Vacation Travel Allowance (VTA) each year to assist with travel expenses when on vacation. I will not be leaving my area this year for vacation due to COVID. Am I still eligible for the VTA even if I don’t travel?

Yes, according to section 3.6.5 of the National Joint Council, there is no requirement to travel to receive the VTA payment.

Commanders may grant members a total of seven calendar days of Special Leave (COVID-19) every two months. Over the course of more than two months, at which point does the two-month period start when it includes a two-week self-isolation period? Is it calculated at the start of the two-week self-isolation period or after it has ended?

In accordance with the Canadian Forces Leave Policy Manual, Special Leave (COVID-19), members not living with their immediate dependents may be granted up to a maximum of seven consecutive calendar days for every two consecutive months for a period of one year in which the member is at their imposed restriction (IR) location or does live with their immediate dependents. Members are granted a total of 30 days of Special Leave (COVID-19) per year. To clarify, if a member took seven days every two months, it would exceed the total of 30 days, so leave must be calculated within these parameters. If during a period of Special Leave (COVID-19) quarantine is required, it will be included in the two-month period and will be considered on duty.

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