Business Continuity with respect to Human Resources Matters

DATE:

TO: Directors of Human Resources
c.c. Chiefs of Staff Relations

The following advice (as opposed to "written direction") is provided to departments with respect to the delegation of authority to Deputy Heads to use appropriate and reasoned discretion in human resources matters in the context of each department's business continuity plans.

The purpose of this advice is to assist you in dealing with employee-related situations that may occur as a result of situations categorized as follows:

  • Category A – Non life-threatening situation that would prevent a number of employees from entering the workplace or remaining in the workplace. It may affect only a few employees or the entire workforce, but for a short period of time only (i.e a couple of hours). For example:
    • Problem with plumbing in the building, no running water, flooding
    • No power in the building
    • Problem with the heating system (too cold, too hot)
    • Fumes
    • Snowstorm
  • Category B - Non life-threatening situation similar to Category A that lasts longer than a few hours, or a situation that affects a large number of employees having city-wide or regional implication. In addition to examples in Category A:
    • Ice storm
    • Power shortage
    • Floods
    • General infrastructure shutdown (i.e. bus strike)
  • Category C – Potential life threatening situations or property damage abroad or in Canada. For example:
    • Forest fires
    • Floods
    • Ice Storm
    • Earthquakes
    • Hurricanes
    • Terrorist attack
    • General public health (i.e. SARS, avian influenza , etc.)

Generic Information Applicable to All Categories

The points below elaborate on existing benefits, policies, legislation, etc. They are general in nature as each situation must be examined on its individual circumstances and based on the collective agreement or terms and conditions of employment applicable to a particular employee.

Alternative Working Arrangements

In the event that any of the above situations results in a temporary office closure, Managers, where possible, should be encouraging their employees to pursue alternative working arrangements (i.e. working off-site to the best of their ability). Managers, again where possible, are expected to contact their employees to discuss what arrangements may be made for off-site meetings, the drawing up of lists of priority actions, and how best to remain in touch and up to date on the activities of their work unit.

Once E-mail service has been restored, those employees with remote access and Blackberries should be expected to work from home or an alternate location. However, as there may be limitations to the system's capacity to accommodate everyone, employees should be encouraged, wherever possible, to use remote access during off-peak hours and, once they have downloaded their messages, to work off line to enable as many people as possible to have access to the system.

While the situation regarding the re-opening of buildings will be re-assessed daily, managers are encouraged to review their agendas and work-plans and to consider, should access to their work place continue not to be possible, what issues and projects urgently need to be dealt and what work can be most easily completed by employees working off-site. Managers should contact their staff, and where appropriate or necessary, make arrangements to meet and/or stay in contact by phone or e-mail.

Employees should be encouraged to check their voice-mail boxes regularly and some may wish to modify their recorded greetings to add alternate contact numbers.

Maintenance of Pay for employees who are unable to report to work due to office closures

All employees (including casuals and students) who are unable to report to work due to office closures should continue to be paid for their regularly scheduled hours of work during the period of these office closures.

Employees in acting situations at the time of the office closures should continue to be paid at their acting level.

Leave for employees during an office closure.

Employees are not required to submit leave forms for periods where management has suspended normal business operations.

Approved leave is not to be displaced. Where leave (eg: annual, sick, family related, without pay) was previously authorized, employees would not have been planning on reporting to work and would therefore not have been affected by the office closure.

Leave for employees directly affected by an emergency situation and/or those involved in providing emergency relief services

Managers have the flexibility and discretion to grant a leave of absence to employees directly affected by an emergency situation. Where an employee is personally affected by the event giving rise to the office closure, they are encouraged to communicate with their manager to review their individual circumstances and any reasons preventing them from reporting for work. The decision to grant/not grant leave is one best determined by the manager who knows the operational requirements of the work area.

Those employees involved in providing emergency relief services (eg: volunteer fire brigade, armed forces reserve) should in most circumstances be granted leave with pay. Those employees wishing to work in emergency shelters, should be required to obtain prior approval from a delegated manager, and to the extent possible, these employees should maintain regular (daily) contact with their immediate supervisors. The decision to grant/not grant leave is one best determined by the manager who knows the operational requirements of the work area and the emergency situation in respect of the employee requesting leave.

Managers are reminded that casual employees are NOT entitled to leave with pay. Casual employees, except in the event of an office closure, are to be paid only where services have been rendered.

Once normal business operations have resumed, leave forms must be completed for all absences that had been verbally authorized by managers.

Temporary help agency personnel and/or Contractors who are unable to work on federal contracts as a result of office closures

Temporary agency personnel are employees of the temporary help agency. Personnel of these agencies are normally paid by the agency on the basis of services rendered. Where no work was performed during the period of any temporary office closure there are no hours to be billed by the particular agency. Consequently it is up to that agency to determine what it will do for their personnel in these circumstances. Temporary agency personnel should be contacting their employer for further information and clarification of their situation.

The federal government's relationship with firms and individuals providing services on contract is fundamentally different from its relationship with its employees. Contracts and the basis for payment are determined by the terms and conditions of individual contracts and the nature of the services to be delivered. The Treasury Board Secretariat is committed to ensuring that the government will fulfill all of its contractual obligations to firms, agencies and individuals affected by temporary office closures. Each situation will need to be assessed by the delegated contracting manager once normal business operations have been resumed. In many instances, where temporary help agencies are involved, the question of payment will be determined by the agency and the conditions of work which the agency has engaged its employees.

Contracts whether they are for professional or temporary help services, goods, or construction, differ in their terms and conditions and basis of payment. Essentially, contracts affected by any temporary office closure should be paid based on the terms and conditions associated with the contract, respecting the obligations of Section 34 of the Financial Administration Act (FAA). Additionally, that there may be clauses in contracts similar to what is resident in the National Master Standing Offer (NMSO) issued by Public Works and Government Services Canada for Temporary Help. This clause identifies circumstances under which the Temporary Help Agency may be paid in the event of closure of Government Offices.

14.0 Closure of Government Offices

Where employees of the Supplier are providing services on government premises pursuant to a Call-Up issued by a Designated User and the said premises become non accessible due to evacuation or closure of government offices, the Supplier shall be paid at the applicable regular rates as shown on the Call-Up provided that the Supplier submits with its invoice a certification, countersigned by the affected employee(s), stating that:

  • the employee(s) named in the Call-Up(s) could not be re-affected;
  • the Supplier has not received any other payment from any other client, including the government, during the period of the closure; and
  • the affected employee(s) has (or have) been or will be paid at the rates such employee(s) is (or are) entitled to be paid have the services been provided as required in the Call-Up.

It should be noted that even with the inclusion of this clause in a contract, the contract is between the Crown and the Agency, not the employee of the Agency and care must be taken to avoid an employer/employee relationship.

Category A

Non life-threatening situation that would prevent a number of employees from entering the workplace or remaining in the workplace. It may affect only a few employees or the entire workforce, but for a short period of time only (i.e a couple of hours). For example:

  • Problem with plumbing in the building, no running water, flooding
  • No power in the building
  • Problem with the heating system (too cold, too hot)
  • Fumes
  • Snowstorm

In the event that any of the above situations results in a temporary office closure, Managers, where possible, should be encouraging their employees to pursue alternative working arrangements (i.e. working off-site to the best of their ability).

All employees (including casuals and students) who are unable to report to work due to office closures should continue to be paid for their regularly scheduled hours of work during the period of these office closures. Employees are not required to submit leave forms for periods where management has suspended normal business operations.

Approved leave is not to be displaced. Where leave (eg: annual, sick, family related, without pay) was previously authorized, employees would not have been planning on reporting to work and would therefore not have been affected by the office closure.

National Joint Council Directives on OHS (i.e. acceptable temperatures in buildings) and the requirements of the Canada OHS Regulations (ex. fumes) help to define a situation, whichwould 'prevent' employees from entering or remaining in a workplace. Click on link below:

Healthy workplace

In all situations that potentially affect the health and safety of employees, you should seek the advice of your departmental OHS Coordinator.

Category B

Non life-threatening situation similar to Category A that lasts longer than a few hours, or a situation that affects a large number of employees having citywide or regional implication. In addition to examples in Category A:

  • Ice storm
  • Power shortage
  • Floods
  • General infrastructure shutdown (i.e. bus strike)

In the event that any of the above situations results in a temporary office closure, or prevent employees from reporting to work, Managers, where possible, should be encouraging their employees to pursue alternative working arrangements (i.e. working off-site to the best of their ability).

All employees (including casuals and students) who are unable to report to work due to office closures should continue to be paid for their regularly scheduled hours of work during the period of these office closures. Managers are reminded that casual employees are NOT entitled to leave with pay. Casual employees, except in the event of an office closure, are to be paid only where services have been rendered. Employees are not required to submit leave forms for periods where management has suspended normal business operations.

Approved leave is not to be displaced. Where leave (eg: annual, sick, family related, without pay) was previously authorized, employees would not have been planning on reporting to work and would therefore not have been affected by the office closure.

Category C

Potential life threatening situations or property damage abroad or in Canada. For example:

  • Forest fires
  • Floods
  • Ice Storm
  • Earthquakes
  • Hurricanes
  • Terrorist attack
  • General public health (i.e. SARS, avian influenza, etc.)

Scenario #1:

For federal government employees that may have been vacationing in the affected area and who are prevented from returning to work as originally planned:

  • Collective agreements or the terms and conditions of employment policy provide management the discretion to grant leave with pay when circumstances not directly attributable to the employee prevent his or her reporting for duty.
  • In the case of a medical emergency, these employees and their dependants are covered under the emergency provisions of the Public Service Health Care Plan (PSHCP) for up to $100,000 each in eligible medical expenses. This coverage continues for up to 40 days after departure from the province of residence.

Scenario #2:

For federal government employees that may have been on annual leave while vacationing in the affected area and that died as a result of the event:

  • The employee and their dependents have limited coverage of $3000 for return of the deceased under the PSHCP.
  • The Supplementary Death Benefit (SDB) portion of the Public Service Superannuation Act (PSSA) applies. Some funeral expense may also be covered under the PSSA.

Scenario #3:

For federal government employees that may have relatives that died as a result of the event:

  • The applicable collective agreement or the terms and conditions of employment policy provide all federal government employees a certain amount of bereavement leave in cases where certain members of the employee's family die.
  • The provisions generally provide for additional leave where travel related to the death is involved.
  • The Deputy Head may after considering the particular circumstances involved, grant leave with pay for a period greater than normally provided for.

Scenario #4:

For federal government employees who may wish to take leave in order to attempt to find missing friends/relatives:

Collective agreements or the terms and conditions of employment policy provide management the discretion to grant leave.

  • Each situation must be examined based upon the employee's individual circumstances.
  • In the case of a medical emergency, these employees and their dependants are covered under the emergency provisions of the Public Service Health Care Plan (PSHCP) for up to $100,000 each in eligible medical expenses. This coverage continues for up to 40 days after departure from the province of residence.

Scenario #5:

For federal government employees working in the affected areas, and their families if the families were moved to the location with the employees:

  • Provisions related to Foreign Service provide for the emergency evacuation of employees and their families in the event of natural disasters. The provisions also address situations where adequate medical care is not available at the location. In the event of death of an employee or dependent during the period of the employee's foreign service, certain expenses will be compensated.
  • Many of the provisions provide discretion to the deputy head to address individual circumstances.
  • Employees posted to the area are covered under the comprehensive plan of the PSHCP and under the Foreign Service Directives (FSD).
  • Employees on travel status in the area are covered under Part V of the Travel Directive "Emergencies, illnesses, injuries and death while on travel status" together with the PSHCP.
  • Employees may also be covered under the Government Employees Compensation Act for injuries received while on duty.

Scenario #6:

For federal government employees assisting with the relief efforts (example, working for the Red Cross) Collective agreements or the terms and conditions of employment policy provide management the discretion to grant leave. Accordingly, those employees involved in providing emergency relief services (eg: volunteer fire brigade, armed forces reserve) should in most circumstances be granted leave with pay. The decision to grant/not grant leave is one best determined by the manager who knows the operational requirements of the work area and the emergency situation in respect of the employee requesting leave.

Those employees wishing to assist with emergency relief efforts, should be required to obtain prior approval from a delegated manager, and to the extent possible, these employees should maintain regular (daily) contact with their immediate supervisors. While there may exist other situations than the ones described above, we have tried to address the ones that we think you may encounter. We have also tried to give you as much information as possible without going into too many details.

For further information or assistance, you can consult the TBS website dealing with employees' benefits or you can contact Don Graham, Senior Director, Labour Relations Operation at 952-2944.

Original signed by/
Hélène Laurendeau
Assistant Secretary
Labour Relations and Compensation Operations

Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: