Civilian Flexible Work Guidance
The Civilian Flexible Work Program, in conjunction with applicable collective agreements, allows managers, when feasible, to authorize civilian employees to alter, on a temporary or permanent basis:
- their work schedule;
- the number of hours they work;
- the location in which they work; or
- take leave to meet personal and family responsibilities.
As per the joint direction from the Deputy Minister and Chief of the Defence Staff, the Assistant Deputy Minister (Human Resources-Civilian) (ADM [HR-Civ]) has issued a directive to managers on managing a varied and flexible civilian workforce. You may have heard similar programs being called telework or alternate work arrangement in the past. This program incorporates all flexible options and includes the introduction of a mandatory agreement form for civilian employees.
Flexible work options
All flexible work agreements must respect operational feasibility, applicable provisions of collective agreement clauses, Treasury Board policy and the Directive on Terms and Conditions of Employment. They are initiated at the request of an employee to their manager (delegated authority).
Flexible work hours
Compressed work week
Employees complete their weekly hours of work in a period other than five (5) full days as per their applicable collective agreement, provided that over the designated period the employee works an average of their standard hours. The number of hours worked each day will determine the number of days off in any given period.
Reducing hours of work
In the context of COVID-19, there is a temporary and transparent acknowledgement that while an employee is healthy, wishes to work full-time, and is able to work remotely if/as required, and/or does not have the capacity to report for duty or remain on duty, the employee can request the use of Leave With Pay for Other Reasons (Code 699).
As members of the federal public service, all employees are asked to adopt a good faith approach in using the leave code 699, keeping in mind the need to provide critical services to Canadians at this time. Managers will ask employees to attest to the situation preventing them from working.
Please note this arrangement is not to be confused with “Reduced hours of work,” as a result in a change of tenure to Part-Time employee with specific terms and conditions.
Flexible work schedule
Employees can request to work flexible hours within a day of work in accordance with the provision of their collective agreement. They will complete their normal work day in a consistent manner throughout the period for which the flexible hours have been approved.
Flexible work place
When possible, employees perform the duties of their position in an alternate location outside of their normal workplace for part or all of their scheduled work week.
Employees are responsible for establishing and maintaining a suitably designated workspace in a safe, healthy and secure manner which provides a work environment free of interruptions and distractions that could affect work performance.
Ensure that all parties involved in flexible work are positioned for success through learning.
- Security considerations do not permit employees to work in public spaces
- Access to DND equipment is restricted to authorized personnel only.
- Protected B information must be encrypted.
- Employees must complete mandatory Security Awareness Training A230 available through GCcampus.
- DND-issued equipment cannot be connected to any personal equipment.
- In-person business meetings may not take place in the telework space.
Managers are responsible for determining the equipment required for employees to perform their duties. Employees cannot take any DND IT equipment other than a tablet or laptop home with them unless preapproved. If the equipment is damaged or lost, the employee may be required to reimburse the Crown should they be found negligent.
The provision and set-up of ergonomic equipment at home is evaluated on a case by case basis. For more guidance, refer to the The Defence Team’s approach to ergonomic or support equipment for telework.
Employees are responsible for proper recordkeeping as required by the Guidebook for departments on easing of restrictions: Guidance for Information Management and Technology.
In cases where the manager has approved a work arrangement whereby the employee’s personal equipment is used, information that relates to an institutional matter and are of business value are subject to the Access to Information Act.
Health and safety
It is the employee’s responsibility to establish and maintain a healthy and safe workspace. If an injury takes place at the workplace or while teleworking at the designated workspace, the employee must follow the standard process for reporting a workplace accident/injury and immediately follow up with their manager for appropriate action. Also, employees who are injured in the course of their duties may be entitled to compensation as per the Government Employees Compensation Act.
Mobile work expenses are the employee’s responsibility. Home office expenses can be claimed on personal taxes when an employee works from home for a duration that is more than 50% of the time (3 days/week). The tax form is available on the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) website and employees should consult CRA for further direction or advice. Employees may be able to retrieve small portable equipment and office supplies from their workplace with their manager’s permission.
Here are the steps to initiate a Flexible Work Agreement:
Employees must submit the request for manager’s approval using the mandatory form.
- Managers will review and consider the request and where operationally feasible, approve the agreement and submit to the positional mailbox for Flexible Work Program
- The Section 34 manager will ensure the employee’s work schedule is accurately reflected in the Phoenix pay system.
The agreement is evergreen and must be updated as circumstances change but reviewed annually at a minimum.
Roles and responsibilities
Employees have a responsibility to:
- Examine the flexible work options and determine which would work best for their personal situation, their work role and their personal well-being, while respecting the applicable collective agreement or the terms and conditions of employment.
- Discuss the establishment of an agreement with their manager and be prepared to consider alternate options that may be a better fit given the nature of their work, or address anticipated work challenges associated with flexible work options.
- Initiate the agreement and request manager approval using the mandatory electronic form.
- Understand and respect security, health and safety, and information management requirements whenever working remotely.
Managers have a responsibility to:
- Consider all reasonable requests for a flexible work arrangement.
- Ensure employees understand their responsibilities with respect to security, health and safety, and information management.
- Be prepared to propose different flexibility options that may be a better fit given the nature of the work, or which might better address anticipated work challenges associated with particular options.
- Understand and support employees with appropriate leave provisions.
- On receipt of an employee’s mandatory agreement form, review and amend as required, approve and submit.
- Ensure that any schedule changes is submitted for action in the Phoenix pay system or by calling HR Connect RH at 1-833-747-6363. Please note military managers must submit their employees’ schedule through the Human Resource Services and Support (HRSS) portal Human Resource Services and Support (accessible only on the National Defence network), where it will be processed by a timekeeper.
- Monitor the employee’s well-being, performance and ensure business requirements are being met on an ongoing basis. As business activities evolve, managers must continue to evaluate feasibility and suitability and amend existing agreements to reflect changes.
- Discuss any issues or concerns related to the agreement with employees in a timely manner.
Tips for managing a remote and varied workforce
Manage by results
Managing by results puts the focus not on how or when work is done but on the end result. Managers need to provide their employees with clear and measurable outcomes that allow the organization to meet its objectives.
To manage by results, managers must:
- Ensure that the workload is:
- Appropriate and manageable – in light of personal circumstances
- Relevant, fair, clear, meaningful and has SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, Time-Bound) goals
- Optimizing all flexibilities
- Establish a culture of trust by:
- Using frequent and open communication
- Promoting and enabling team building
- Committing to transparency
- Use a performance management approach that:
- Focuses on productivity
- Provides honest and regular feedback
- Recognizes accomplishments
- Ensures actions are taken when required
As a manager, you are required to measure the productivity of employees regardless of where they are located and remote workers must be held accountable for their results. Semi-annual and annual Performance Management Agreement discussions remain mandatory but regular discussion, whether daily, weekly, or monthly depending on the circumstance, is fundamental.
Communication and transparency
These agreements require commitment to clear and regular communication, managing to unit objectives, and documentation for ongoing monitoring and oversight. Managers need to ensure their employees have the tools they need to do their work and to communicate with one another. They need to use the various technological solutions available to bring their employees together regularly, and spend time keeping people up-to-date. Virtual team building activities also enable employees to get to know each other and build their relationships and trust.
Flexible work benefits
- Organize daily tasks and be physically comfortable and productive
- Balance work life with their personal life
- Attend to personal issues and enjoy leisure time
- Spend less time commuting and reduce associated costs
- Attract and retain talent
- Increase productivity and quality of work due to reduced stress of an employee
- Accommodate employees with limitations that make it difficult to get to a work location away from home
- Have flexibility in managing human resources
- Improve client service
- Contribute to cost savings such as a reduced need for office space
- HR Connect at 1-833-747-6363
- HR Go App
- Defence Team News
- Defence Team COVID-19 Information Page
- Canadian Human Rights Act
- Directive on Performance Management
- Public Service Staff Relations Act
- Relocation Directive (Treasury Board)
- Security Policy (Treasury Board)
- Canada Labour Code, Part II and associated Regulations
- Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations
- Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
- National Joint Council Occupational Health and Safety Directive
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