COVID-19 has put unprecedented stress on members like you. Balancing work and life responsibilities, setting up workspaces at home, dealing with school and daycare closures, and caring for loved ones has been a very difficult transition.
The vast majority of federal public servants have been able to work through this crisis requiring no extra leave. However, those who needed more flexibility to attend to caregiving duties or deal with health risks, or those who could not perform their tasks at home when their offices closed, accessed ‘Other Leave With Pay (Code 699).’
To date, the use of Code 699 has been minimal. When it's needed – it's needed
Women, caregivers and those with health risks still need access to Code 699 leave to cope with the pandemic.
It is a great disappointment that the Treasury Board has decided to change its guidance for management on the use of Code 699. Even after conducting a GBA+ analysis on this change – identifying that the burden of child care and financial repercussions in the COVID era has disproportionately fallen on women – they decided to move forward.
This updated guidance, which will be effective November 9, 2020, sets up new barriers that make this type of leave less accessible to employees. It emphasizes that Code 699 should be granted on a case-by-case basis, and only after remote or alternate work, or flexible work hours have been considered, and generally only after other relevant paid leave has first been used by the employee.
Once all available options have been considered, and managers have consulted with their Labour Relations advisors, Code 699 could be available to an employee.
However, this leaves it up to individual managers to force employees to exhaust other forms of leave, such as vacation, sick leave, or leave without pay, inappropriately.
Get the help you need
We’re extremely concerned about the decision and limited access to Code 699.
If you have been denied access to Code 699 or forced to use inappropriate leave such as vacation, sick leave, or leave without pay, please reach out for support:
We’re fighting back
Public servants are fundamental to a successful recovery from the pandemic. We must support these workers to support Canadians.
Last week we sent a letter to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, and Minister for Women and Gender Equality, The Honourable Maryam Monsef, urging them to insist that this decision is reversed. The government’s response to the pandemic and its treatment of federal workers has been very commendable so far – this approach must not be changed now to the detriment of women and families.
Throughout this pandemic, you have fought for Canadians, and your union has fought for you. For months, we have pushed back against the Treasury Board when they initially proposed to eliminate Code 699 entirely. Though progressive changes have been made we are disappointed with the conclusion they’ve come to and we are ready to push back again.
There is still time for key government ministers or the Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer to step in and stop this change.
If this policy is implemented as is, we will take legal action by filing a policy grievance to demand this change be halted.
Code 699 is rarely used – we must ensure those who need to access it are provided with fair access. We must protect those who are vulnerable to discrimination.
Women are being pushed out of the labour market across the globe, we cannot allow that to happen here. We must stand up for each other through this crisis.