The CAF member on return to duty
Duty, Obligations, Responsibilities
CAF RTD is not a prescribed absence or leave from weekly scheduled work or duties as a member of the CAF. RTD is a CO approved modification to the member’s normal duty week that permits them to engage the recovery and rehabilitation services they require and reintegration support necessary to return to full duty. While participating in the RTD program, the member’s places of duty are those places and the corresponding times/days of the scheduled duty week that are part of the RTD recommendation and have been agreed to in their RTD plan.
In order to have a successful RTD plan, members should work collaboratively with their HCP team, their Unit RTD Representative, duty placement supervisor, and the IPSC Services Team/designated RTD Coordinator.
While on RTD, members are still in the CAF and as such, have the same responsibilities, duties and obligations as all CAF members. While on RTD, members must:
- Respect all military rules and regulations
- Follow their established RTD Plan as agreed and meet with their supervisor and designated RTD Coordinator as requested for progress updates
- Respect and abide by the MELs assigned by their PHCP without alteration
- Participate within, and up to their functional capabilities
- Inform their supervisor and designated RTD Coordinator of changes/modifications to their MELs or RTD recommendation as soon as possible
- Report for all scheduled medical appointments, treatments or therapy sessions and, when possible, schedule these outside those days they are to be at their ‘place of duty
- Inform their supervisor in advance of any changes to their scheduled medical appointments, treatments or therapy sessions as soon as possible
- Remain in the established geographic area of their employing Unit and be reachable by their supervisor and the IPSC RTD Coordinator when they are not at their place of duty
- Receive approval from their Supervisor in advance if they are required to leave the geographic area of their duty placement for a medical appointment
- Receive prior written consent from their PHCP for all military and civilian employment as well as recreational activities beyond assigned MELs
- Receive prior written approval from their CO and recommendation from their PHCP for part-time employment and/or voluntary work that does not occur during scheduled duty placement hours
- Not accept compensation of any kind including pay, gifts, benefits, gratuities, etc., for full or part-time civilian employment that is part of an approved RTD Plan
- Not engage in self-employment and/or revenue producing employment by or for immediate family members
Medical Appointments and Sick Leave while on RTD
CAF RTD is based on a medical recommendation that establishes the amount of work a member can do during a regular 5-day work week (or 7-day shift work week) as part of a recommended plan for recovery and rehabilitation from an illness or injury. The days the member are not to be at work are also considered to be part of that plan as that time away from work is an equally necessary component of their recovery and rehabilitation. This includes attending regular general and specialist medical appointments, physiotherapy treatments and physical fitness sessions. These are to be scheduled outside of the duty work periods. Members on RTD are not on Sick Leave unless they are in possession of a Sick Leave pass.
Travel Entitlements and Benefits
While on RTD, members are entitled to actual and reasonable expenses associated with transportation from the place of duty established in their RTD plan (home, duty placement location, fitness facility) to a medical appointment, treatment or therapy session (in accordance with Compensation Benefits Instruction (CBI) 209 and Chapter 5, Canadian Forces Temporary Duty Travel Instruction (CFTDTI). This applies to the days members are at their place of duty and the days they are not at their place of duty. The member’s unit Chain of Command are the approving authority for “actual and reasonable expenses”.
Refusal to Abide by RTD Plan
Refusal to abide by the terms of an agreed upon RTD Plan following a trial period could be deemed to be a refusal to perform duty. The legitimacy of an RTD Plan is determined through consultation with the member's chain of command, a PHCP, and the RTD Coordinator. A member who refuses to participate in an approved RTD plan will be referred to his/her unit chain of command by the IPSC RTD Coordinator (or Unit RTD Representative), with a recommendation that the member be employed by the unit in accordance with the member’s approved MELs. Administrative and/or disciplinary action, including a recommendation for compulsory release may be considered by the member's chain of command in respect to the member's refusal to abide by the RTD Plan.
Removal from the RTD program
A member may be removed from the RTD Plan when:
- the Base/Wing Surgeon/Medical Officer determines that they are fit to return to full duties
- the member refuses to participate in the RTD plan
- the member receives notification that they will be released
- the member has been assigned permanent medical employment limitations that will most likely result in release from CAF for medical reasons
- the member begins an approved Serving Member Vocational Rehabilitation program
Expenditure and Management of Annual Leave
The days that a member is not at their duty placement agreed to in their RTD Plan are considered part of their recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration and therefore are accounted for in the expenditure and management of annual leave. The member may not be at their duty placement, but they are still in service and should expend annual leave in accordance with their terms of service. Furthermore, those same days do not constitute unaccounted for time off and, as such, cannot be reclaimed by the unit. The policy regarding the expenditure and management of annual leave while on RTD is to be applied as it is for members not on RTD. As an example, if a member on RTD was to take a vacation for a week, the "duty days” (Mon, Wed, Fri) and the ‘non-duty placement’ days (Tue and Thu) would require a leave pass for 5 days annual leave like any other member of the CAF. If one of those days is a statutory holiday, then the member would be required to expend only 4 days of annual leave. Furthermore, if a member wants to return from a period of annual leave and the last day falls on a ‘non-duty placement day’, that last day is still accounted for as a day of annual leave. Also, if a member’s ‘duty placement day’ falls on a statutory holiday, the member is not required to make up a ‘duty placement day’ or expend a day of annual leave for it.
Every RTD Plan, and specifically the SOU, must include the member’s formal annual leave plan for the remaining leave entitlement at the time they enter the RTD program. Stakeholders, specifically, the member’s chain of command and their PHCP, must work collaboratively to minimize the potential for last minute conflicts with respect to the expenditure of leave, the cashing out of remaining leave or the ordering of personnel on leave to meet with fiscal year obligations. Only in the most exceptional circumstances will an RTD Plan support accumulation and/or cashing out of leave. Such circumstances will normally be based on the advice of the PHCP and be supported by the chain of command. When considering cash-out of annual leave, it is important to note that under current regulations pertaining to annual leave, a CO has the authority to allow the accumulation of 5 days of annual leave each year, up to a maximum of 25 days for the duration of a member’s career.
Recovery and Rehabilitation Prior to Commencing Reintegration
For some ill and injured members, a duty placement, even for short periods of time, may not be part of their RTD Plan and the focus will be primarily on their recovery and rehabilitation. In these instances, Ill and injured members should have an RTD Plan in place that anticipates an eventual duty placement and structure their recovery and rehabilitation activities towards preparing them for reintegration. Recovery and rehabilitation activities may include such alternatives as:
- secondary duties
- special projects
- sport, physical activities and re-conditioning
- community services
If the member is capable of work, the first choice ought to be at the member’s unit rather than a civilian job. However, there may be exceptional cases when an RTD plan outside of the unit and base/wing environment is recommended. Some circumstances where there are physical/psychological issues may preclude a member from military work but allow them to start being active in a civilian job. When this is the case, alternative RTD placement may still exist in DND/CAF or other public sector (federal, provincial or local municipal) government organizations and should be considered first. As part of an RTD plan, a civilian placement should include goals that build the ill and injured member’s readiness to return to a military environment. Civilian placement for members recommended to be placed on RTD should not be with the intent to position the member for transition to a new career or employment outside the CAF. Any placement that involves vocational rehabilitation should be part of a member’s transition plan.
Part-time employment and/or voluntary work that does not occur during scheduled duty placement hours is possible only with the approval of the CO and the recommendation of the member’s PHCP, who will certify that the employment and/or voluntary work will not interfere with the member’s treatment; or cause harm to the member.
Benefits, Responsibilities, and Liability on Civilian Placement
The benefits of civilian placement should be carefully weighed against the potential risks and consequences to the member and the CAF. A member employed outside of the CAF would be subject to federal and provincial labour laws as well as other pertinent laws and regulations. In accordance with the Treasury Board Policy on Legal Assistance and Indemnification, members in civilian work placement will be indemnified for any personal civil liability incurred by reason of any act or omission within the scope of their duties or employment only if they acted honestly and without malice.
A member may have responsibilities and liability toward an employer and/or the public of which he/she is unaware and for which he/she may not be properly covered. Members should be counselled to request a written agreement with the employer and to carefully review their responsibilities and liability toward their employer and/or the public.
As per QR&O 208.45, no participating member is authorized to receive compensation, financial or otherwise, for the duties he/she carries out outside the CAF in the context of his/her CAF RTD plan. Under no circumstances can a member on RTD in a civilian placement accept compensation of any kind, including pay, gifts, benefits and gratuities, for full or part-time civilian employment that is part of a RTD program approved by the CO.
In accordance with the Treasury Board Policy on the Indemnification of and Legal Assistance for Crown Servants, CAF members as Crown Servants shall be indemnified for personal civil liability incurred by reason of any act or omission within the scope of their approved duties or employment and only if they acted honestly and without malice.
Injury on Civilian Placement
Members on RTD in a civilian placement are still considered on duty when they are at their civilian workplace. However, if a member sustains an injury or aggravates an existing injury while on civilian placement, that is not a guarantee that the injury will be deemed “attributable to service”. While most injuries that occur while on duty are attributable to military service, the one does not necessarily follow the other. Any injury sustained will be subject to an evaluation by the member’s chain of command either through examination of the Report of Injuries, CF 98, or from the results of a formal investigation into the injury convened by the member’s chain of command.
Private Sector Placement
There may be very rare cases when a RTD placement within the private sector is deemed appropriate. Such cases require close and regular liaison between the member’s PHCP, the Unit RTD Representative, the IPSC Services Coordinator, and the member. Members on RTD in a private sector placement are still considered on duty when they are at their workplace and are subject to all obligations and provisions as for a civilian placement. Remunerated self-employment (and/or revenue producing employment by the immediate family members of the CAF member) shall not be acceptable as an RTD plan.
Travel Expenses in a Location Other than the Normal Workplace
When an RTD placement is located other than the member’s normal workplace, it shall be within the geographical boundaries of the member’s normal workplace. RTD is not designated as or considered to be a temporary duty. As such, reimbursement of the transportation costs as per CAFTDI 5.13 (Temporary Workplace Change) is not authorized. If the member requests an RTD placement outside of the geographical boundaries of their normal workplace, and it is supported by both the member’s chain of command and the PHCP, any additional travel expenses incurred become the member’s responsibility.
Tools, Equipment, Protective Clothing for Civilian or Private Sector Placements
It is understood that when a member is placed on a RTD outside of the military environment there are possible costs associated with the provision of protective clothing, tools and equipment to enable the member to carry out the duty placement. The CAF is not responsible to provide these items to members who are employed in other units and/or agencies outside of the military environment. The company and/or location where the member is being accommodated or carrying out the RTD is responsible for the provision of any special equipment or tools for these types of duty placements.
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