Guidebook for departments on easing of restrictions: Federal worksites

This Guidebook on the easing of restrictions in the workplace was published for the purpose of guiding Departments in planning for and managing an initial resumption of activity in the workplace at the time. The pandemic environment has since continued to shift with multiple waves impacting public health restrictions, and with vaccination efforts continuing across jurisdictions.

The Guidebook covers general planning and considerations. Departments are encouraged to manage and adjust plans in consideration of the changing pandemic environment and consider the latest developments therein. Planning should be augmented and/or updated as needed, based on the latest information and new complementary guidance’s available.

Also refer to the latest guidance on vaccination.

On this page

Preamble

As jurisdictions prepare for the easing of restrictions at worksites, including government worksites, the Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer (OCHRO) assembled representatives from departments and centres of expertise to develop a practical guidebook that could be adapted by Deputy Heads for a range of circumstances across the public service.

This work must adhere to the First Minister’s Statement on Shared Public Health Approach to Support Restarting the Economy and its principles, with due consideration for provincial and territorial decisions. We must plan for a gradual and sustainable easing of restrictions, based on public health guidance from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and applicable advisories, and prepare to manage a workforce that, in most cases, will be split between employees working onsite and working remotely. Additionally, we must take into consideration that there may be a next wave that could require the retightening of restrictions.

The working relationship with Bargaining Agents will be critical as departments build plans for the reopening of specific worksites. Consultations at the national level as well as at the departmental level will provide constructive feedback, expertise, and innovation as we all – Canadians and public servants alike – learn to live with COVID-19.

While this document is generally applicable to most worksites, its interpretation must consider that departments have different operational realities and have unique worksites which require unique considerations.

The decision to reopen any specific worksite will have implications for individual employees and their families. We are mindful in providing this Guidebook that such decisions are taken in the context of a legal framework, that includes, among other instruments, collective agreements and legislation (e.g. the Canada Labour Code among others).

In addition, this Guidebook, which is designed to assist in formulating plans for the reopening of worksites, must be read in the context of existing guidance. In the case of discrepancy, the most recent published authoritative and formal guidance will take precedence.

Objective and contents

This guide aims to support robust delivery of programs and services to Canadians during a gradual, safe and sustainable easing of COVID-19 restrictions related to federal public service worksites, while supporting the physical and mental health of federal public servants.

The guide summarizes roles and responsibilities of key parties and points to available resources. It is meant for the Core Public Administration and separate employers alike, as applicable.

Principles

While organizations in the public service deliver a broad range of programs and services to a diverse population, to economic and social sectors, in a variety of worksites over a territory governed by multiple jurisdictions at the same time, the Employer has strived to ensure attentive and coherent support to its workforce, in full respect of the accountabilities of Ministers and Deputy Heads.

To this end, the following principles have informed the guidance to manage the work and the workforce and will guide the approach for the easing of restrictions:

  • the health, safety, and wellness of public servants and Canadians are paramount;
  • public health instructions to contain the spread of the coronavirus will be adhered to; and
  • programs and services that the Government of Canada and Canadians rely on will be maintained.

Deputy Minister framework

Please refer to guidance on vaccination for additional information and requirements.

Federal public servants have contributed significantly to preventing the spread of COVID-19, saving lives, and reducing pressure on Canada’s health care system. As epidemiological conditions improve, every measure must be taken to protect our employees within safe and inclusive work environments. This includes physical and psychological health and safety, and all legislative requirements under the Canada Labour Code. In keeping with GBA+ and inclusion for all, individualized attention will be required, as needs and the ability to return to the worksite may vary significantly between employees and every effort made to ensure employees have the tools and resources in regard to mental health services and assistance.

As conditions improve Deputy Heads will normalize programs and services incrementally, in a way that protects both Canadians and employees. Integrated business plans designed to align with government priorities should be reviewed for relevance and coherence with the new context. As plans are developed, the interdependencies with local partners should be considered.

It is important that plans be developed and decisions be taken in accordance with the following considerations:

  • Adherence to the Chief Public Health Officer’s advice and direction on public health measures and local public health officer’s advice across the country;
  • Protection of the physical and psychological health and safety of federal employees (including all legislative requirements under Part II of the Canada Labour Code);
  • Incorporating wellness, accessibility, inclusion, and diversity (such as by using Gender-Based Analysis +), to identify employees’ experiences based on their various identity factors (age, ethnicity, gender, race, ability, sexual orientation, etc.);
  • Leading with empathy and communicating with care, compassion and support;
  • Continuously adapting to “living with COVID-19” in Canada as long as it is needed;
  • Compliance with applicable legislation, collective agreement provisions and terms and conditions (as may be negotiated, where applicable);
  • Optimizing operational capacity and flexibility;
  • Deputy Heads will have to determine how and when – particularly in highly operational settings – protective measures will need to be emphasized to protect the health of employees and Canadians;
  • Continuing to build the resilience and sustainability of our organizations and workforce, by strengthening digital and general skill acquisition for public servants, and leveraging digital infrastructure investments;
  • Fostering trust, safety and security of the public and the workforce, and communicating in both official languages and in accessible formats;
  • Assessing the privacy impacts of the measures that are considered and taking appropriate steps to protect privacy rights; and
  • Implementing robust change management methods and best practices to support employees in successfully adopting the changes/new measures being implemented including effective communications, employee engagement, change leadership and learning strategies.

Consultations

The Employer will continue to ensure that guidance related to the reopening of worksites is based on the guidance from public health authorities. Bargaining Agents are being engaged at a national level, including through the National Joint Council and the Service-Wide Occupational Health and Safety Committee. These efforts at a national level are complementary to the consultations that will be undertaken by each department.

Deputy Heads should initiate the required consultations with bargaining agents as early as possible through their occupational health and safety committees regarding their departmental plans. The Employer has the authority to establish schedules to address operational requirements in accordance with collective agreements and to ensure the continuity of business. On-going consultation with Bargaining Agents will be important as we strive to protect the wellbeing of employees while providing services to Canadians.

Roles and responsibilities

The following roles and responsibilities specific to this guidebook:

Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)

  • Provide evidence-based public health guidance and tools upon which the federal public service can base decisions (e.g., occupational health and use of PPE, use of non-medical masks/face coverings by public service employees and/or clients, policy decisions such as testing public servants for COVID-19, environmental cleaning standards, use of and standards for physical barriers such as Plexiglas in federal worksites, etc.).
  • Monitor evidence on, and epidemiology of, COVID-19 nationally and internationally and adjust public health advice, guidance and tools accordingly.
  • Undertake public health measures at the border, including quarantine and isolation as appropriate for international travellers.
  • Support key departments with federal populations, such as Correctional Service Canada, with infection prevention, coordination with local public health authorities, and provide surge support for outbreak investigation and surveillance through the Canadian Field Epidemiology Program.
  • Work with PSPC to validate the PPE procurement requests from departments.

Health Canada (HC)

Public Service Occupational Health Program

  • Provide occupational health advice and guidance to federal organizations in Schedules I and IV of the Financial Administration Act. Departments and agencies determine what advice applies to their occupational health needs.
  • Offer the following services to departments and agencies:
    • Pre-placement and periodic health evaluations
    • Immunization and communicable disease screening services, as well as education on disease prevention, including COVID-19
    • Advice to Heads of Missions overseas regarding emergency medical situations and evacuations
    • Occupational hygiene advice and consultation
    • Fitness to work evaluations
    • Services to support the Public Service Pension Plan (i.e., medical review of applications for retirement on medical grounds and service buybacks)

Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS)

  • Provide guidance and support to Deputy Heads regarding strategies to address the easing of COVID-19-related restrictions at federal public service worksites.
  • Provide guidance and advice to executives and managers about workplace (physical and psychological) health and safety measures in the context of COVID-19.
  • Use existing flexibilities to adapt policy implementation as needed.
  • Support departments and agencies in implementing occupational health and safety measures and duty to accommodate requirements.
  • Provide advice on leveraging people management policies to respond to emerging situations related to worksite resumption (e.g., EAP, flexible work, Interchange Canada for agile staffing solutions). 

TBS - Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer (including the Centre of Expertise on Mental Health in the Workplace, and the Centre of Excellence on Official Languages)

  • Assess the need for new or updated policies, or consider guidance during this transition and for the future of work.
  • In partnership with Health Canada’s Psychosocial Emergency Preparedness and Response Team, assist organizations in addressing the psychosocial risk factors for employees and how best to incorporate psychological health and safety into Business Continuity and transition plans.
  • Assist organizations in addressing challenges with regard to communicating with the public and employees in English and French.
  • Support departments and agencies in creating safe, healthy, accessible and inclusive worksites.
  • Continue to fulfill these responsibilities in collaboration with departments and agencies and consultation of the National Joint Council.
  • Establish, negotiate and ensure compliance with the terms and conditions of employment and collective agreements.
  • Consult with bargaining agents at the national level and other partners and stakeholders.
  • Deliver public service group insurance benefit programs to support plan members’ access to physical and mental health, dental and disability benefits as and when they need them.
  • Along with Public Services and Procurement Canada, communicate to plan members the flexibilities and hardship provisions available to them under the public service pension and benefit plans.
  • Collect data and information to support federal organizations and enterprise-wide efforts to understand risks, trends, and areas of focus during this transition, as they relate to the workforce and workplace.

TBS – Office of the Comptroller General

  • Advice and guidance to departments on comptrollership polices and issues (i.e. financial, materiel, real property, projects, procurement, internal audit).
  • Mobilize internal audit community to establish and implement agile tools and approaches to support business activities.

Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC)

PSPC is a common services organization.

  • Work with departments and agencies in procuring the supply of necessary equipment and personal protective equipment, if required.
  • Is the designated custodian of general-purpose office accommodation for federal public servants and sets the standards for them.
  • Operate and maintain an office portfolio and assign office space to clients.
  • Provide advice, as appropriate, regarding the safe use of workspaces and common areas.
  • Ensure that the occupants of PSPC buildings (i.e. non-custodian) have a safe environment in which to work, including augmenting standard cleaning specifications and delivering unique service requirements to tenants
    • PSPC has been proactively developing procedures to ensure healthy and productive work environments for occupancy in PSPC buildings. These include:
      • Water systems requirements to mitigate risks of water stagnation and associated bacterial growth;
      • HVAC maintenance activities to promote occupant wellness; and
      • Review of signage and communication material to support re-occupancy measures (i.e. physical distancing, elevator protocols, traffic management in buildings).

Real Property Custodian Departments

  • Are the designated custodian for special purpose space in support of custodian specific program mandates excluding general purpose office space.
    • Note: PSPC’s guidance was primarily developed to respond to operational requirements in general purpose administrative environments, however, the core elements of the guide are transferrable to departments with responsibilities to manage special purpose buildings, with adaptation to suit those unique program operating requirements.

Shared Services Canada (SSC)

  • Provide network and digital services to support GC departments in providing critical programs and services.
  • Coordination of integrated service delivery management of IT infrastructure services to GC departments, who in turn deliver important digital services to Canadians.
  • Leverage transformative technologies to enable the delivery of digital and cloud-based programs and products to GC customers in support of the Government’s COVID-19 priorities, and in support of achieving a modern, secure and digital government.
  • Support Partners and Clients who have developed and/or modified their IT systems through the SSC Security Assessment and Authorization service. This helps ensure confidentiality, integrity and availability of their systems and data. SSC has been committed to protecting the privacy of individuals, including their personal information and supporting Partners and Clients to protect their data and information on Government of Canada infrastructure.
  • Provide, build, maintain and ensure the health and stability of the IT Infrastructure that hosts and supports all of the critical departmental applications that support the Government of Canada.
  • SSC plays an instrumental role in working with other department’s CIOs on their respective plans, to ensure remediation measures from a technology stand point are in place and network and infrastructure readiness is addressed to support these plans. Departmental CIOs should engage respective Client Executive Teams at SSC, for the prioritization of Information Technology (IT) requests based on the level of urgency and operational requirements.

Deputy Heads

Please refer to guidance on vaccination for additional information and requirements.

  • Develop and implement a plan to address the gradual and sustainable easing of COVID-19-related restrictions related to worksites for which the Deputy Head is responsible.
  • Ensure that the plan is consistent with public health advisories (federal, provincial, territorial and municipal).
  • Align implementation of the plan according to the easing of measures in each province and territory where the department or agency has physical worksites (i.e. plan for an asymmetrical implementation).
  • Inform and consult with bargaining agents and the department’s Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) policy and workplace committees during the development and implementation of departmental plans.
  • Ensure that the plan is reviewed in light of accessibility, GBA+ principles, the diversity and inclusion lens proposed by the Joint Union Management Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion, and the Accessible Canada Act.
  • Review the criticality of services, usually in accordance with Business Continuity Plans and the related Business Impact Analysis.
  • Determine how work must be performed, taking into consideration functional and operational requirements, the terms and conditions of employment, provisions in collective agreements.
  • Plan for use of facilities by undertaking an assessment of each facility's capacity based on appropriate physical distancing practices, including all assets classes and types of work locations (e.g. offices, labs, vehicles, conveyances, shared worksites, etc.).
  • Protect the physical and psychological health and safety of employees, including all legislative requirements under Part II of the Canada Labour Code.
  • Test the plan from the perspective of the workforce, the workplace, the work and partners and stakeholders.
  • Ensure that privacy impacts of the plan – the collection, use or disclosure of personal information – are assessed, and risks mitigated.
  • Aligned with the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace (the Standard), identify psychosocial hazards, measure hazards and the impact hazards are having on employees, and manage risk/hazards accordingly.
  • Ensure proper training and direction are provided on health and safety, duty to accommodate, and accessibility.
  • Ensure proper training and direction are provided on wellness, inclusion and diversity, and that proper supports (such as the services of Indigenous elders) are made available. Women and Gender Equality (WAGE) and the Canada School for the Public Service offer a comprehensive suite of online training on GBA+ as well as diversity and inclusion.
  • Set the expectation that executives and managers pay attention to priority business outcomes and have frequent and open discussions with employees, and use judgement and flexibility in managing the workplace and workforce.

Managers

Please refer to guidance on vaccination for additional information and requirements.

  • Implement the strategy defined by the Deputy Head and consult departmental OHS units, labour relations and other internal services as required.
  • Protect the physical and psychological health and safety of employees, including all legislative requirements under Part II of the Canada Labour Code.
  • In supporting employees, including those that may contract COVID-19, particular attention should be paid to privacy rights and human rights. Promote and encourage the use of mental health supports and services. 
  • Address the 13 psychosocial factors that impact employees, and respond to psychological hazards that emerge (e.g. anxiety around contracting COVID-19 in the workplace, the loss of a team member or loved one, effects of discrimination related to COVID-19).
  • Work with employees to address their concerns as they arise and advise them on what services are available, such as the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Personal circumstances as well as issues related to health and safety, or the duty to accommodate should be addressed on a case-by-case basis. 
  • Put in place controls to reduce risks related to exposure to COVID-19, in consultation with OHS committees. Communicate and provide training to the employees to ensure that they are able to carry out their duties as per the established controls. Promote compliance, and monitor the effectiveness of the controls in line with the evolving risks.
  • Ensure the alignment with OHS guidance on the maximum number of employees that could report to work at a given time while maintaining physical distancing and other public health measures related to COVID-19.
  • Communicate with employees who will return to the worksite beforehand to reassure them of the measures in place to protect their health and safety.  Take steps to ensure employees returning to the worksite are given appropriate notice. 
  • Regularly invite and consider the concerns of all employees, including those related to accessibility, wellness, inclusion and diversity, and the duty to accommodate.
  • Collaborate with local union representatives as required, especially in duty to accommodate processes and to resolve workplace conflict.
  • Ensure compliance with health guidelines and all preventative measures in force in the worksite.
  • Ensure the provisions of safe occupancy are met.
  • Ensure that all employees are treated with equal respect and value, understand the expectation for results, and are offered equivalent supports and opportunities.

Employees at all levels

Please refer to guidance on vaccination for additional information and requirements.

  • Follow public health measures.
  • Take steps to support personal mental health, including taking regular breaks. If mental or emotional health is suffering, access EAP or a health care professional (e.g. a family doctor).
  • Take all health, safety, and security precautions in accordance with all laws, policies and regulations, and maintain regular contact with their manager and colleagues.
  • Collaborate with managers to maximize their contribution to the organization’s objectives.
  • Practice good information management, including appropriate documentation of decisions, and alignment with privacy and security requirements.
  • Provide health attestations or certificates as may be required.
  • Provide information and documentation supporting accommodation requirements in timely fashion.
  • Follow the health and preventive measures necessary to protect the health, safety and physical integrity of others in the workplace.
  • Work with others to maintain safe use of the workplace and create a healthy environment.
  • Respectfully share concerns about their personal situation, the workplace, or the behavior of colleagues with management.

Practical considerations and checklists for the easing of restrictions (short-term considerations)

Preamble

Please refer to guidance on vaccination for additional information and requirements.

This section is intended to provide Deputy Heads and Managers with a practical list of considerations as we ease restrictions related to COVID-19. These considerations should apply to most worksites while taking into consideration that many employees work in unique environments. The objective is to protect the health and wellbeing of employees that are returning to federal worksites and to prevent the spread of COVID-19. With this in mind; Deputy Heads and Managers are asked to focus their plans for the easing of restrictions on those employees who are necessary to provide critical services to Canadians, that need to be “onsite” to support government priorities, or whose work cannot reasonably be done remotely. As working remotely is the safest option available, managers are encouraged to adopt best practices to support high-functioning virtual teams where possible.

It is understood that as we transition to the next normal, that federal worksites will not be able to sustain a return of an important majority of their employees while respecting physical distancing measures. This ratio will need to be calculated looking at office space design / square footage, as well as network capacity for the remaining virtual workers, in order to strike a balance that will ensure productivity of all employees.

Develop and implement a plan – overview checklist

Deputy Heads are responsible for developing and implementing a plan to address the gradual and sustainable easing of COVID-related restrictions related to worksites for which the Deputy Head is responsible. In developing and implementing the plan, departments should:

  • Ensure that the plan is reviewed in light of GBA+ principles, physical and psychological health and safety consideration, the Diversity and Inclusion lens, and accessibility requirements.
  • Ensure that the privacy impacts for any collection, use or disclosure of personal information in the plan been assessed, and risks been mitigated.
  • Align implementation of the plan to conditions resulting from the easing of measures in each location (province and territory, municipality) where the department or agency has physical worksites (i.e. asymmetrical implementation).
  • Ensure that the plan is consistent with public health advisories (including federal, provincial, territorial and municipal advisories).
  • Inform and consult with bargaining agents during the development and implementation of the plan.
  • Continue to monitor COVID-19 cases through the enterprise application.
  • Where Business Continuity Plans have been activated, determine the date at which the Business Continuity Plan will be deactivated.
  • Determine how many employees can be reintegrated in the worksite(s), taking into account Health Canada guidance for physical distancing and the use of PPE.
  • Include a protocol for visitors, with a view to minimizing in-person contact.
  • Minimize the number of employees asked to return to the worksite by prioritizing work to be done onsite. To assess which work should be prioritized, the following considerations should be taken into account:
    • Is the work critical to business continuity and achieving the departmental mandate or service delivery standards?
    • Can the work be done remotely? For example, can the work continue to be done without the requirement for in-person interactions with the public or colleagues?
    • Does the employee have all the necessary equipment, technology, systems and/or data or does the work require access to information only available on-location?
    • Is the work suitable for remote working? (i.e. timing, deadlines, autonomy)
    • Is security and safety maintained if working remotely? (e.g. data, physical)
    • Does anyone else depend on this work being done in the office or a specific location? (e.g. security, clients)
    • How do GBA+, diversity and inclusion, and accessibility considerations impact the decisions? It is important not to make assumptions, give opportunities for employees to be heard.
  • Identify the employees who are to return to the worksite. Communicate this list to the bargaining agent representing these employees.
  • Provide employees with information regarding return to worksite protocols and a forum where they can ask questions and get the appropriate answers prior to their return.
  • Provide employees with the information on their schedule of work, ensuring compliance with the collective agreement.
  • Provide employees with information on the organization’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and other mental health resources to support them when they return to the worksite.
  • Provide employees with the available first aid attendants contact information.
  • Put in place emergency protocols to ensure it is known how many employees are onsite for appropriate response in case of emergency. Provide employees requiring assistance during emergencies with the information they need to safely enter and exit the worksite.
  • Provide employees with information on the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) or other equipment, materials and measures that the employer will be providing when they return to the worksite.
  • Review guidance on use of code 699 Other Leave with Pay to keep apprised of changes to eligibility as circumstances related to COVID-19 evolve, and ensure the continued appropriate use of 669 within organizations.
  • Inform and consult with bargaining agents, the department’s Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) policy and workplace committees and other partners and stakeholders during the development and implementation of the plan.
  • Develop training material and information sheets for employees who are returning to the worksite. Ensure material is vetted by the departmental OHS committees.
  • Ensure proper training and directions are provided to managers and employees on occupational health and safety matters.

Communications and engagement

  • Frequent communications with Employees.
  • Ensure alignment to enterprise-wide messaging, and alignment in messaging within the organization.
  • In order to build trust and resilience, and avoid the spread of misinformation, consider the following when developing messaging: content, clarity, consistency, frequency, and tone.
  • Be transparent and authentic.
  • Encourage dialogue and flexibility to adapt to specific circumstances.
  • Develop information sheets and clear signage for employees who are returning to the worksite. The material is to be vetted by the departmental OHS committees, and be provided in accessible formats.

Determining whether work should be performed onsite or by working remotely

  • Consider occupational health and safety, duty to accommodate, accessibility, GBA+ considerations, and the diversity and inclusion lens.
  • Take into consideration functional and operational requirements.
  • In assessing which employees should be asked to return to the worksite, specific impacts to individuals will need to be considered as part of protecting the health and safety of employees. Some employees may have specific personal circumstances that may require accommodation, for example, medical conditions, family and childcare responsibilities, at-risk age group, living with people with elevated health risks, living in vulnerable communities, as well other considerations such as travel restrictions.
  • Establish and/or modify work schedules using existing flexibilities (e.g., those in collective agreements and relevant terms and conditions of employment) while respecting:
    • Collective agreements and relevant terms and conditions of employment;
    • The Canada Labour Code and Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations; and
    • Duty to accommodate requirements.

Training checklist – continuous learning and reskilling

When considering what training is required, the following should be considered:

  • Occupational health and safety (including related legislation), duty to accommodate, privacy, and accessibility guidelines.
  • Wellness, inclusion and diversity.
  • Mental Health supports.
  • Management and leadership – new normal means adapting the way we lead people.
  • Virtual and remote work management tools and guidelines.

Psychological health and safety

The Centre of Expertise on Mental Health in the Workplace offers tools and supports. In considering how to support psychological health and safety, the following should be taken into account:

  • As this is a plan to mobilize people, and considering the psychosocial impacts of the pandemic on all Canadians, psychological health and safety and the potential impacts on the 13 psychosocial factors outlined in the National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety should be a consideration in all people management decisions, including when developing scenarios for the easing of restrictions.
  • Include OHS and HR/Wellness partners and stakeholders at the decision-making tables and/or consult them.
  • Promote departmental and enterprise-wide mental health services, resources and training that are available for all employees and ensure ease of access.
  • The approach to addressing psychological health and safety should align with the National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in regards to critical event preparedness, which states that organizations “shall establish and sustain processes to:
    • ensure the psychological health and safety risks and impacts of critical events are assessed; and,
    • manage critical events in a manner that reduces psychological risks to the extent possible and supports ongoing psychological safety”.
  • Psychological health and safety risks and impacts can be assessed through relevant workplace data (e.g., pulse surveys, programs and services utilization reports, etc.) and organizations should consider prioritizing top psychosocial risks (e.g., Leadership, Influence, Balance, Workload, etc.).
  • Provide tools and resources to equip managers on how to support themselves and their employees in regard to mental health.

Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

  • Make EAP contact information and Executive Advisory Services available to all staff.
  • Promote the use of these services.
  • Contact your EAP provider for options on other possible workplace supports.

Diversity, inclusion and accessibility

  • Efforts should be made to help normalize wellness, diversity and inclusion as a regular topic of discussion.
  • Embody an ongoing commitment to respect and civility in the workplace.
  • Reflect on the fact that each person is experiencing this unprecedented period differently, with various factors impacting their health, safety, well-being, and ability to contribute to the work of the unit.
  • Understand the unique circumstances of each employee, and remain flexible about each person’s ability to contribute to the work of the unit, seeking guidance from executives as needed.
  • Apply the principles for the management of a remote workforce and leading at a distance, remain aware of the state of mind and vulnerability felt by members of their work unit and remain vigilant about respect and civility in the workplace.

Official languages

  • Seek support from official languages champion as the organization returns to work.
  • Ensure that official languages implications are considered in all aspects of communications and decision-making (refer to the OL Checklist for Deputy Heads), including in the provision of tools that support telework, and that messages to employees in their organization are available simultaneously in both languages.
  • Make messages to employees available simultaneously in both languages.
  • When in a bilingual region, need to encourage the use of either official language in team meetings, engage employees individually in their preferred official language and make information available simultaneously in both official languages.
  • Encourage staff to work in their preferred official language, reach out to the person responsible for official languages in their organization to discuss how the crisis and return to the worksite may have affected official languages and, when referring employees to support services, make sure they are available in the employee’s preferred official language.

The Joint Learning Program – empowering conversations in the workplace

The Joint Learning Program (JLP) is a unique partnership between the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS) and the PSAC. In response to the current crisis, the JLP has launched a new series of short guided discussions to help employees and managers talk about the challenges they are facing due to COVID-19. Each discussion in the Empowering Conversations series stands alone and requests can be made for one, two or three sessions.

The guided discussions are led by two trained JLP facilitators and are intended for intact teams. Each session can have between 3 and 15 participants. The first two sessions are designed to take place remotely using the technology that is available to teams, while the third can be done remotely or in person.

Grounding Ourselves in Uncertain Times (1.5 hours – online)

This discussion aims to help participants:

  • Discuss experiences and identify stressors
  • Share tools for managing health during isolation
  • Build stronger online connections, networks and relationships

Returning to the Worksite: Now What? (1.5 hours – online)

The second discussion will help participants:

  • Review the available departmental information about the return to the worksite
  • Identify questions and information needed
  • Begin planning for returning to the worksite

During this time, dialogue between employees and managers is essential. There is a renewed sense of collaboration and a hunger for connection. Considering the impact of physical distancing and isolation on mental health and wellness and to foster a sense of community in COVID-19 times, Empowering Conversations creates space for focused, honest discussions about the impact the pandemic has had on employees and their families.

To request a facilitated discussion from Empowering Conversations for your team, please visit the JLP website.

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