ADM(HR-Civ) Guidance to Managers on Managing a modern, flexible and varied civilian workforce

(June, 2021)


  1. ADM(HR-Civ) Directive to Managers on Managing a flexible and varied civilian workforce July 2020
  2. CDS/DM Directive on DND/CAF Reopening Strategy (Summer 2021 Posture)
  3. Joint CDS/DM Directive for the Resumption of Activities
  4. Joint CDS/DM Directive 1243-1: DND/CAF COVID-19 public health measures and personal protection
  5. National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces – COVID-19
  6. Government of Canada: Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)
  7. Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat – Directive on Telework
  8. Collective Agreements for Public Service


  1. (U) Application

    This directive applies to all public service employees of the Department of National Defence (DND) and all managers of DND employees, including Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) managers of DND employees.

    This directive replaces and supersedes Reference A. It serves as an update to reflect the DND/CAF reopening strategy as COVID-19 vaccines roll out and the pandemic context evolves. More specifically, it outlines direction to managers on managing a modern, flexible and varied workforce through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

  2. (U) General. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated changes in relation to how the Defence Team works, where it works, and what its employees do at work. Wide-spread adoption of flexible work options—due to public health guidance and restrictions—allowed for the continued conduct of operations, distribution of meaningful work, as well as adherence to emerging bylaw, legislative, and public health requirements.
  3. To remain agile in the changing public health landscape, three types of work place arrangements emerged for civilian employees: on-site, virtualFootnote 1 , and a hybrid combination of both on-site and virtual. While virtual and hybrid work arrangements became a de facto operational requirement for many employees, the Defence Team is now seeking to formalize these flexibilities as it plans for the eventual post-pandemic environment.
  4. The COVID-19 pandemic will continue to be the source of significant institutional change. Lessons learned from the pandemic will be used to reinvent how and where work is done as the Defence Team eventually transitions to a post-pandemic environment. DND/CAF will need to strike a balance between management’s right to manage and meeting operational requirements in a way that supports individual employee circumstances and flexibility. The future workforce and working arrangements will be increasingly flexible with employees working both on-site and in hybrid models that blend on-site and virtual work.
  5. (U) Problem Definition. As the Defence Team adapts to developments in the COVID-19 situation, it requires a portion of the workforce to remain flexible, varied and mobile, but not necessarily on a full-time basis. Defence Team managers must determine the optimal alignment between on-site, virtual and hybrid work models in meeting their operational requirements. They must also determine the eligibility and requirements for civilian employees to continue working in flexible work arrangements as the pandemic evolves and the institution transitions to a post-pandemic environment.
  6. The pandemic has affected employees in different ways, and not all employees will recover at the same rate. In preparing for resumption of activities asymmetrically across the enterprise and the eventual post-pandemic environment, managers must balance employees’ individual circumstances and requirements – including total health and diversity and inclusion considerations – with operational requirements, such as the team’s type of work and the individual’s work description.
  7. (U) Limitations
    1. All applicable Treasury Board policies and Part II of the Canada Labour Code will be followed by DND employees and CAF managers of civilian employees.
    2. All applicable National Joint Council Directives will be followed by DND employees and CAF managers of civilian employees.
    3. All applicable collective agreements will be followed by DND employees and CAF managers of civilian employees.
    4. Flexibility is subject to operational requirements as determined by management and may not be feasible in all circumstances.


  1. L1s and managers must determine the optimal workforce alignment for their civilian employees as the pandemic situation evolves and as DND/CAF transitions to a post-pandemic environment. Defence Team managers of civilian employees will engage each of their civilian employees to determine their suitability and eligibility for on-site, virtual or hybrid work in preparation for the post-pandemic environment.


  1. (U) ADM(HR-Civ) Intent
    1. ADM(HR-Civ)’s intent is to support the physical and psychological health and safety of public service employees while sustaining operational excellence for the Defence Team by ensuring the civilian workforce is strategically aligned to deliver on the Defence Team’s mandate in an evolving pandemic environment.
    2. L1s and managers of civilian employees are equipped to manage a modern, flexible and varied civilian workforce. In considering the appropriate mix of on-site, virtual and hybrid work, managers balance—to the extent possible—the employee’s position, work description, individual circumstances, operational requirements, collective agreement, legislation and policies.
    3. Employees are treated with fairness, respect and empathy in requesting or exercising flexibilities in their working arrangements.
  2. (U) Strategic Objectives
    1. The Defence Team’s pandemic posture has shown that a flexible, varied and mobile workforce can continue to deliver on the Defence Team’s mandate, and can even be preferable to traditional working arrangements in certain instances.
    2. Utilizing lessons learned throughout the pandemic, the Defence Team can identify and navigate trade-offs between financial, infrastructure, human capital, and opportunity costs by strategically aligning its workforce for a changing pandemic landscape and the future of work.
    3. Updating the civilian Flexible Work Program (FWP) and associated business processes will provide Defence Team leadership with visibility on capacity, working arrangements, and facilitate evidence-based decision-making.
    4. Increased flexibility can help position the Defence Team as an employer of choice while accounting for the work-life balance preferences of a diverse workforce. Similarly, flexibility can help promote total health and wellness and employees should be encouraged to use the annual leave provisions granted by their collective agreements.
  3. (U) Conduct of Operations
    1. Employees seeking to utilize the FWP must complete the Flexible Work Agreement (FWA) form and submit it to their manager for approval.
    2. Managers must respond to employee FWA requests no later than 30 calendar days after receiving the FWA form from an employee.
    3. FWAs are currently in effect until such time as operational requirements or the employee’s work arrangements, or the FWP change. If such changes occur, an amended FWA form must be submitted by the employee to their manager for approval.
    4. Resources have been developed and updated to support this requirement:
      1. Manager’s Toolkit is available on the HR Go App;
      2. Guidance on the current posture and the eventual transition to the post-pandemic environment;
      3. Flexible Work Program guidance outlining roles and responsibilities, options, and resources; and
      4. The agreement with instructions.
  4. (U) Tasks
    1. ADM(HR-Civ)
      1. As the DND/CAF Functional Authority (FA) for civilian human resources, provide guidance and resources to managers of civilian employees for on-site, virtual, and hybrid working arrangements;
      2. Monitor and report on use of the FWP;
      3. Analyze data to inform changes to the FWP and human resources policies, programs and practices that support flexible work;
      4. Provide guidance on the management of civilian members who may be challenged or unable to return to the workplace due to personal circumstances;
      5. Liaise with central agencies to ensure Defence Team civilian policies are reflective of the federal public service business resumption considerations;
      6. Release periodic updates on the direction and guidance for flexible work as national guidance evolves.
    2. Common to all L1s
      1. Determine the optimal civilian workforce alignment;
      2. Articulate requirements to respective support bases;
      3. Ensure widest distribution of this directive and supporting informational products within your organisation.
    3. Common to all Civilian Employees
      1. Review available flexible work options and where appropriate, initiate or revise a request for flexible work options;
      2. All employees working in a virtual or hybrid work arrangement must have a FWA. If an employees’ working arrangement changes an amended FWA form must be submitted to their manager for approval.
      3. Understand and respect their collective agreement, terms and conditions of employment, security, health and safety, and information management responsibilities in all work arrangements.
    4. Common to all Managers of Civilian Employees
      1. Set requirements and expectations for the work unit with respect to which employees are eligible to work on-site, virtually, or in a hybrid manner;
      2. Approve or deny employee requests for virtual, hybrid or flexible work options in a timely manner;
      3. Communicate performance expectations to employees in addition to completing performance agreements in the PSPM App;
      4. Managers are recommended to review their employees’ FWAs at mid-year and year-end performance reviews at a minimum.
      5. Exercise flexibility in approving leave requests and encourage employees to take vacation leave, subject to operational requirements.
    5. VCDS
      1. As the DND/CAF OHS Functional Authority (FA), provide updates to COVID-19 specific PHM, PPE, NMM, and RADT guidance to the Defence Team as needed.
    6. ADM(IE)
      1. Support and guidance on the modernization of real property to support the transition to a hybrid workforce in the post-pandemic environment.
    7. ADM(PA)
      1. In coordination with ADM(HR-Civ), ADM(PA) will implement a broad-reaching communication strategy for this directive to ensure all members of the Defence Team have the knowledge and tools to operate in the current and anticipated environment.
  5. (U) Coordinating Instructions
    1. Key Dates
      1. Civilian employees without a flexible work agreement who currently work in at least one of the following arrangements must submit the FWA form to their manager for approval by August 31, 2021:
        • Compressed work week;
        • Reduced hours of work;
        • Flexible work schedule;
        • Flexible work place (including virtual and hybrid arrangements).
      2. Civilian employees with a flexible work agreement must submit an amended FWA form to their manager if their arrangements change.
    2. ADM(HR-Civ) Key Point of Contact
      1. Monica Kolstein, Director General Workforce Development

Assistant Deputy Minister (HR-Civ)
Kin Choi

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