Conference Attendance 2019-01-18
To: Chiefs of Labour Relations and Chiefs Financial Officers Core Public Administration
The objective of this bulletin is to clarify the interaction between the Directive on Travel, Hospitality, Conference and Event Expenditures and subparagraph 19.03 (a) (ii) of the collective agreement foremployees in the Research (RE) group.
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A. Article 19.03 of the RE collective agreement
Clause 19.03 of the RE collective agreement reads as follows:
The parties to this agreement recognize that attendance at professional or scientific conferences, symposia, workshops and other gatherings of a similar nature constitutes an integral part of an employee’s professional activities and that attendance and participation in such gatherings is recognized as an important element in enhancing creativity in the conduct of scientific research or professional development. In this context, the parties also recognize the importance of research networking with national and international peers and active participation in the business and organization of relevant scientific and professional societies.
(a) Professional or scientific conferences
- An employee will attend professional or scientific conferences when it is deemed by management that such attendance will benefit the research program or the employee’s career development.
- Each employee will have the opportunity to attend conferences, symposia, workshops, and other gatherings of a similar nature, which the employee deems relevant and beneficial to the research program or the employee’s career development. The Employer shall make a reasonable effort to approve the employee’s request subject to operational requirements.
Clause 19.03 recognizes the importance of conference attendance in RE career development.
B. Subsection C.2.2.2 of the Directive on Travel, Hospitality, Conference and Event Expenditures
Subsection C.2.2.2 of the Directive on Travel, Hospitality, Conference and Event Expenditures reads as follows:
C.2.2.2 Limiting the number of public servants attending a conference from a department to the minimum necessary to achieve the departmental objective;
The intent of subsection C.2.2.2 of the Directive on Travel, Hospitality, Conference and Event Expenditures is to promote the responsible and effective use of public resources in arriving at decisions related to conference attendance.
C. Interaction between the Directive on Travel, Hospitality, Conference and Event Expenditures and article 19.03 (a) (ii) of the RE collective agreement
Subsection C.2.2.2 of the Directive on Travel, Hospitality, Conference and Event Expenditures and subparagraph 19.03(a) (ii) of the RE agreement outline managerial requirements in making conference approval decisions. Subparagraph 19.03(a) (ii) of the RE collective agreement provides that each employee will have the opportunity to attend conferences, workshops, etc. which the employee deems relevant to his/her research program or career development. Management is required to make a reasonable effort to support and approve requests from employees under the RE agreement subject to operational requirements.
As conference attendance constitutes an integral part of RE employee professional activities, departments who employ REs can consider attendance of these employees at conferences as part of meeting their departmental objectives.
The provisions of the collective agreements apply at all times and the rights of the employees, including researchers, under their collective agreement remain unfettered. In other words, collective agreement provisions must be respected when applying the Directive. While reiterating that reasonable efforts must be made to approve the employee’s request to attend conferences and conventions in accordance with the provision of the collective agreement, one should not expect every request will be approved.
A researcher’s request for conference attendance, may include, but is not limited to, consideration of factors such as:
- Presenting the employee’s own work
- Sitting on a panel discussio
- Chairing or co-chairing sessions
- Ongoing participation in the planning activities of the society organizing the conference
- Supervision of students presenting at a conference
- Judging submissions of other conference participants
The elements above should not be removed from justifications submitted by researchers during the approval process and must be considered in a reasonable and non-arbitrary manner. Upon request, an employee who is refused attendance at a conference must be provided with the reason for refusal in writing.
As per the Directive on Travel, Hospitality, Conference and Event Expenditures and the Guide to Travel, Hospitality, Conference and Event Expenditures, event approval is not required for training and operational activities. When the applicable authority has determined that an RE member’s conference attendance is for training or operational activities, that employee’s associated expenditures should be excluded from other conference costs requiring event approval.
All questions can be directed to ZZERRCOR@tbs-sct.gc.ca
Original signed by
Senior Director, Employer Representation in Recourse Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer
Treasury Board Secretariat
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