Information Bulletin - Alternation

Note: The following seeks to provide greater clarity with regard to the alternation provisions contained in the Work Force Adjustment Directive/Agreements. This bulletin does not in any way or fashion replace nor supersede these documents, which were arrived at in consultation/negotiations with the public service unions.

Alternation (Work Force Adjustment Agreements)

The Work Force AdjustmentDirective (WFAD) and Agreements (WFAA) apply to indeterminate non-EX employees in the core public administration. They do not apply to the EX group or EX equivalent groups that are covered by the Career Transition Directive.

All the agreements provide for an alternation process when an opting employee (not a surplus employee) wishing to remain employed in the core public administration, exchanges positions with an alternate employee (non-affected employee) willing to leave with a transition support measure WFAA/D Section (6.3.1 option (b) or the education allowance (WFAA/D Section 6.3.1 option (c)(i)).

An indeterminate employee wishing to leave the core public administration may express an interest in alternating with an opting employee. Management will decide, however, whether a proposed alternation will result in retaining the skills required to meet the ongoing needs of the position and the core public administration.

The WFAD and WFAAs provide that it is the policy of the Employer to maximize employment opportunities for indeterminate employees affected by work force adjustment situations, primarily through ensuring that, wherever possible, alternative employment opportunities are provided to them. Alternation is an important tool in ensuring the success of this policy.

Overview

  • All departments and organizations in the core public administration must participate in the alternation process (WFAA/D Section 6.2.1).
  • Alternate employee is the person who wishes to leave the core public service by exchanging their position with an opting employee who wishes to remain in the public service (WFAA/D Section 6.2.4).
  • Opting employee is the person who receives the opting letter (WFAA/D Section 6.2.3).
  • An alternation must permanently eliminate a function or a position (WFAA/D Section 6.2.5).
  • Alternations normally occur at the same group and level or equivalencies as outlined in the WFAA/D (WFAA/D Section 6.2.7). Positions are considered equivalent when the maximum rate of pay for the higher paid position is no more than six per cent (6%) higher than the maximum rate of pay for the lower paid position.
  • Management has the ultimate decision on whether a proposed alternation will result in retaining the skills required to meet the ongoing needs of the position and the core public administration (WFAA/D Sections 6.2.4, 6.2.6).

Key Considerations

An alternation occurs when an opting employee who wishes to remain in the core public administration exchanges positions with an alternate (a non-affected employee) willing to leave the core public administration. It is the alternate employee's manager who will consider whether the opting employeehas the skills required to meet the ongoing needs of the position and the core public administration.

The opting employee and alternate employee exchange positions on the same day and the alternation proposal must have been submitted and approved within the opting period of 120 or 90 calendar days (as per the applicable collective agreement). The actual alternation of positions should take place as soon as possible after it is approved but can take place after the 90 or 120 day period in some instances, such as when the processing of the approved alternation is blocked by unexpected administrative delays. The departure date of the alternate employee should normally be within five days of the alternation taking place to ensure that the opting position subject to workforce adjustment is eliminated as soon as possible.

Alternations generally take place in an employee's local area or can also occur between two individuals in different regions. Any ensuing relocation costs are typically paid by the home department where the opting position resides. The costs may be shared by the two organizations. Such relocation costs are authorized in accordance with the provisions of the National Joint Council Relocation Directive.

Alternations will normally occur between employees at the same group and level. Positions are considered equivalent when the maximum rate of pay for the higher paid position is not more then 6% higher than the maximum rate of pay for the lower paid position.

On April 10, 2012, the Public Service Commission (PSC) enacted an Exclusion Approval Order (EAO) which excludes the alternate from certain provisions of the Public Service Employment Act to facilitate the alternation process.

The PSC has also put in place a transition measure with respect to alternations in bilingual positions. Hence, when an employee is appointed or deployed to a bilingual position as a result of an alternation, their second language evaluation (SLE) test results that are over five years old will be deemed valid, provided that they agree to obtain new, valid SLE test results that meet the linguistic profile of their new position within 12 months of the appointment or deployment.

An opting employee, who has secured management approval for an alternation with an employee at a lower level, will be appointed to the lower position with no salary protection.  In this case, the alternate employee will leave the core public administration with a transition measure for the higher level of the opting position.

The Process

Within departments/organizations

  • The WFA agreements/Directive indicate that all departments and organizations in the core public administration must participate in the alternation process.
  • The overriding factor that should facilitate the approval of the alternation, assuming all conditions outlined in the relevant WFA agreement/Directive are met, is whether the proposed alternation results in retaining the skills required to meet the ongoing needs of the position and the core public administration.
  • Departments/organizations shall establish work force adjustment committees, where appropriate and wherein the implementation of work force adjustment within the department/organization, including alternation, should be discussed with the bargaining agents.
  • Departments/organizations will maintain their own lists of potential alternates to successfully operationalize the alternation process.
  • If an employee feels they were unjustly denied an alternation, that employee can request that his or her situation be reviewed internally by the WFA Champion (should one exist) and the employee may also seek the assistance of their union representative.

Interdepartmental

  • Departments and organizations shall cooperate with other departments and organizations in joint efforts to maximize cross departmental alternation opportunities where it can maximize employment for opting employees.
  • Departments and organizations must seriously consider alternation proposals that involve employees within their departments and organizations and proposals that include employees from other departments and organizations in the core public administration. An alternation proposal must not be denied solely on the basis that it involves an employee from another department or organization in the core public administration.

Jobs Marketplace/Alternation Forum

  • The GC Marketplace Forum was created to assist opting employees in facilitating an interdepartmental alternation. Employees that are seeking an interdepartmental alternation are strongly encouraged to register with the forum.  Departments and organizations shall also provide assistance to employees with accessing this tool.

Roles

Employees

  • Are responsible for seeking out a potential match(es) for alternation.
  • Must advise their manager in writing as to their interest in participating in the alternation process.
  • Are responsible for providing all necessary information to assist managers in making a determination with respect to an alternation proposal.
  • Are advised to liaise with their Bargaining agent representative with respect to their interest in participating in alternation and provide details relating to a possible match or proposal.
  • Are strongly encouraged to register and make use of the GC Forums Alternation site to maximize the ability to find an alternate. They should also register within their department/organization and make use of any other available tools to assist them in facilitating an alternation opportunity (e.g. functional communities).

Departments and Organizations

  • Must promote the alternation process.
  • Must establish processes to facilitate alternation within their own departments and organizations and cooperate with other departments and organizations in the core public administration to identify and consider alternation opportunities.
  • Shall maintain information/monitor the application of the alternation process in the department (including alternates that may be placed within the organization from other departments and organizations).
  • Shall consult with union representatives at the local level as required.
  • Shall provide information to their managers and employees about the alternation process and respond to all questions related to this process as well as providing training to managers and human resources professionals as required.
  • Will provide information to the Treasury Board Secretariat and the Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer (TBS/OCHRO) about the alternation process as required.

Managers

  • Must decide whether or not to accept the alternation proposal based on whether the opting employee has the skills sets required to meet the ongoing needs of the position and the core public administration.
  • May use any of the tools available that would ordinarily be used in a normal staffing process (interviews, tests, reference checks, etc.) to satisfy himself/herself that the employee meets these requirements.
  • Should be made aware that the opting employee is seeking alternation opportunities during the opting period and should assist in the process as necessary. (If in the exceptional case that the alternate employee moving in to the opting position will be performing the duties of the position beyond 5 days, then the employee must meet all of the qualifications and this manager would also have to approve the alternation proposal).

Treasury Board Secretariat and the Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer

  • Shall liaise with departments and organizations about their obligations with respect to the alternation process, and provide policy advice and interpretation where required.
  • Shall consult with bargaining agents with respect to broader issues relating to the application of the alternation process across the Core Public Administration.
  • Shall proactively support and encourage alternation between departments and organizations.
  • Will investigate and seek to resolve systemic issues related to the alternation process to ensure coherence and consistency.

Bargaining Agents

  • Shall assist in the facilitation of alternation.
  • Will educate members about the alternation process, including the relevant timelines and limitations.
  • Shall consult with the TBS/OCHRO and departments and organizations about the alternation process and its application.
  • Will advise TBS/OCHRO and departments and organizations when it becomes aware of issues with respect to the application of alternation across departments and organizations.
  • Shall advise union officers and regional/local representatives and stewards about the alternation process and the bargaining agent's support.
  • Will provide representation to members in the alternation process.

Tools/Practices

The following is a list of other tools/practices that are also available to opting employees to assist them with their search for alternate employment:

  • Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) – maintains an internal Alternation Forum;
  • Treasury Board Secretariat – maintains an alternation web page (part of employees corner) and a dedicated email address facilitates internal alternations;
  • Health Canada – has established an "Employment continuity database";
  • Department of National Defence – has established a database to facilitate alternations;
  • Computer Science (CS) Group – created a GCPedia page to facilitate alternations for the CS group;
  • Physical Science (PC) Community - created a GCPedia page to facilitate alternations for the PC group;
  • Information Specialist (IS) Community – created a GCPedia page to facilitate alternations for the IS group.
  • Human Resources Council (HRC) – is actively sharing information on opting employees with the Heads of Departments/organizations.
  • Frequently Asked Questions on Work Force Adjustment
  • The Public Service Alliance of Canada(PSAC)
  • The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC)
  • The Canadian Association of Public Employees (CAPE) have extensive websites that include information about alternation and other important Workforce Adjustment issues.
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