Research Group (RE) members may be concerned about how the COVID-19 pandemic might impact their career progression assessments. This may be of particular concern for DS, SE-RES and HR employees who are starting to prepare their files to be reviewed by Career Progression Committees (CPC) in the coming months.

The SE-RES form contains a section for Relevant Factors, and the Defence Scientist (DS) process has added an optional annex this year to deal with pandemic-related concerns. Here are some suggestions on the most crucial elements to include.

Family, disability or other protected grounds

First, we suggest you highlight any interaction of the COVID-19 pandemic with a protected ground under the Canada Human Rights Act (for example, marital status, family status, or disability) that may have had an effect on your ability to generate evidence.

This could include where an activity relevant to your case went ahead virtually but you were unable to participate due to childcare responsibilities or lack of accommodative equipment, or where your health status prevented you from attending in person.

COVID-19 changes

Secondly, while we know the vast majority of you are continuing to work productively, it may not be in the same area you normally work – either due to COVID-19-related projects rightfully taking precedence, or lack of access to your normal facilities. This could include an inability to access equipment or sensitive data, or a delay in work.

A Federal Court judge previously ruled that a CPC erred by not accounting for an involuntary change in research focus when assessing a SE-RES promotion case, even though it had been specifically listed in the relevant factors section of the member’s file. If such a change has negatively impacted your ability to generate evidence, it should be noted.

More specific examples to consider including are:

  • Effect on productivity due to reduced availability of tools and equipment (whether computer/network access, or specific lab equipment), or cancellation of experiments/trials/exercises/surveys
  • Effect on the ability to demonstrate productivity, innovation/creativity, recognition and scientific impact due to cancellation of conferences or other international meetings
  • Effect of pandemic-related delays in publication processes, including delays in review processes induced by participants in the review taking COVID-related leave, and restricted ability to process designated or classified documents
  • Effect of reduced opportunity to share results with colleagues, clients and other stakeholders in person or through document distribution
  • Effect on knowledge and expertise due to cancellation of courses, opportunities to participate in client exercises, or other events

It is important to put the above in the context of how they would have impacted your evidence. This may be particularly relevant where an event was delayed or cancelled that would have been reasonably expected to represent a culmination of a significant piece of work, and for more junior employees whose cases are based on a shorter career and may rely on specific pieces of evidence.

As with any comments on your file, it is best to keep them factual and to the point.

If you have any questions or concerns about how this crisis is impacting your professional development, please do not hesitate to reach out to one of your RE stewards or executives.