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The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada > News & Events > Communications Magazine > Vol. 36, No. 4, Autumn 2010 > Know Your Rights - Workforce Adjustment and You
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Know Your Rights - Workforce Adjustment and You

Karyn Ladurantaye

Contributor: Karyn Ladurantaye Employment Relations Officer National Capital Regional Office

The government’s ongoing Strategic Review process requires departments, agencies and Crown Corporations to review 100% of their programs to better focus programs and services and to increase efficiencies and effectiveness. Managing expenditures, accountability, fiscal responsibility, streamlining internal operations; redefining priorities and transforming the way business is conducted often results in reorganization and realignment of the workplace. This could ultimately lead to Institute members being declared surplus.

All PIPSC collective agreements contain rights, entitlements and protection in cases of members being declared surplus. Depending on the applicable collective agreement, this can include the right to placement in another position within the organization and/or recall rights in the event of a layoff. The processes and entitlements in many PIPSC collective agreements are contained within Workforce Adjustment and/or Employment Transition provisions. The WFA is part of the collective agreement and is enforceable within the grievance process, as such; disputes may be referred to an adjudicator at the Public Service Labour Relations Board.

This article reviews some of the basic provisions of Workforce Adjustment based upon the language found in all Institute/Treasury Board collective agreements as it applies to indeterminate employees within the core public administration.

WFA is government jargon for lay-off.

A WFA situation arises when the service of an employee is no longer required because of:

  • Lack of work
  • Discontinuance of a function
  • A relocation in which the employee does not wish to relocate

Workforce situations can affect only specific positions or may involve entire work sections, functions or departments.

The primary objective of WFA is to ensure continued employment. However, continued employment does not necessarily mean continuation of work in the same or a similar position, or occupational group. Accordingly, employees must not assume that their new job will be identical or similar to the vacated position.

An indeterminate employee must be informed in writing that their service will no longer be required beyond a specified date. When this formal notification occurs, the employee then becomes subject to the WFA provisions of the collective agreement and is considered an affected employee. When an employee is informed of a WFA situation, one of the two following options are available:

Although the processes and entitlements in the case of WFA may differ depending upon the collective agreement, the primary objective is consistent: continued employment for indeterminate employees affected by workforce adjustment situations.

1. Where the employer knows or can predict that employment will be available, the employee will receive a guarantee of a reasonable job offer.

2. Where the employer determines that there is no likelihood of employment and cannot provide this guarantee, the employee will not receive a guarantee of a reasonable job offer. Instead, the employee will become an opting employee and will be given several options to choose from in order to help them make the transition to other employment.

What is a guarantee of a reasonable job offer?

This is a guarantee of an offer of indeterminate employment within the Core Public Administration provided by the deputy head to an indeterminate employee who is affected by workforce adjustment. “Reasonable” is defined as:

  • an offer of indeterminate employment in the Core Public Administration
  • normally at an equivalent level
  • the employee must be trainable and mobile
  • geographic area:
  • 1st zone: within the employee’s headquarters area

    2nd zone: within 40 kilometers of the employee’s place of work or residence, whichever will ensure continued employment

    3rd zone: beyond 40 kilometers

What happens once an employee receives this guarantee?

The employee is formally declared surplus with the Public Service Commission which confers a legislated entitlement to the employee for priority appointment to another position in the Core Public Administration for which they meet the essential qualifications for a period of twelve months. The surplus priority is in effect until the employee receives a reasonable job offer and is indeterminately appointed to another position; until the surplus status is rescinded; or until the date of lay-off. An employee in receipt of a guarantee of a reasonable job offer does not have access to a cash payment (cash out).

What does it mean when a guarantee of a reasonable job offer is not provided and the employee becomes an “Opting Employee”?

All indeterminate employees who are not in receipt of a guarantee of a reasonable job offer become an “Opting Employee” under the WFA provisions and are entitled to up to six hundred dollars towards counseling services in respect of their potential re-employment or retirement.

An Opting Employee has 120 days to choose one of the following three options:

Option 1 – Limited Surplus Status

A surplus employee with surplus priority status means that the member has the same rights as a surplus employee in receipt of a guarantee of a reasonable job offer for priority appointment to another position in the Core Public Administration for which you meet the essential qualifications for a period of twelve months. Should the member not receive a reasonable job offer within that period, he or she will be laid off.

If an employee chooses to resign prior to the end of the 12 month surplus priority period, the employee may be entitled to a lump-sum payment for the remainder of the surplus period, up to a maximum of six months.

Option 2: Cash-Out

The employee is entitled to the Transition Support Measure (TSM) which is a cash payment based upon the employee’s years of service in the public service, which varies from a minimum of ten weeks pay to a maximum of fifty-two weeks.

Employees exercising this option must resign; however, they are also entitled to severance pay in accordance with the collective agreement in addition to the TSM cash payment.

Employees selecting this option relinquish their priority rights.

Option 3: - Education Allowance

Employees may opt for an education allowance which pays a maximum $10,000 for tuition, books and mandatory equipment to attend a postgraduate university program. Employees selecting this option relinquish their priority rights and:

  • must resign and
  • are entitled to severance pay in accordance with the collective agreement in addition to the education allowance.

OR

  • Delay departure, to a maximum of 2 years,
  • May receive the education allowance in one or two payments, and
  • May participate in benefit plan while paying both employer and employee shares

It is important to note that the opting employee:

  • cannot change options once having made a written choice.
  • will be deemed to have selected option (a) if they fail to make a choice.

Workforce Adjustment forms part of all Institute/Treasury Board collective agreements. The department or organization is responsible to ensure that employees affected by workforce adjustment situations are treated equitably and given every reasonable opportunity to continue their careers as public service employees.

The Institute is fully committed to providing assistance to ensure that every member is aware of the rights and entitlements available to surplus employees. To this end the Institute will enforce the provisions of the collective agreement, ensure that procedures are being correctly implemented, and that an active program is in place to secure alternative employment for surplus employees.

If you receive notification that you are surplus or will become surplus, we encourage you to contact your Regional Office for information and assistance.