FAQ: Returning to the workplace

When will my workplace announce its return to workplace policy?

Our team is monitoring all return to workplace plans closely, and will share relevant information with members as needed. For our members working for the federal government, return to the workplace plans are being developed department by department. PIPSC is involved in bi-weekly meetings with the Treasury Board and other public sector unions to provide feedback and make recommendations.

My return to workplace policy hasn’t been announced, but I’m concerned. What should I do?

We are working closely with our occupational group executives and consultation teams to ensure the unique challenges related to your work are considered in the plan being developed by the Treasury Board and other employers. We encourage you to reach out to your manager for details, and to your group to provide your feedback.

My return to workplace policy has been announced, and I’m being forced to return to the workplace. What should I do?

While your employer can ask you to return to the workplace, they also must ensure that your health and safety is maintained and that the request isn’t discriminatory. If you feel that the requirement for you to work in the workplace doesn’t meet one or more of these criteria, we recommend that you speak to your manager and/or request an accommodation. If your request for accommodation is denied, you may file a grievance. 

If you’re concerned about health and safety in the workplace, you should contact your manager and your health and safety committee. 

How do I talk to my manager about continuing to work remotely?

Having a conversation with your manager about continuing to work remotely is an excellent place to start, particularly if any of the following apply to you:

  • You have evidence that your employer said that you would be working remotely in the future. This is particularly important if you moved further away from your workplace based on this understanding. For example, the President of the Treasury Board has publicly committed to hybrid working arrangements that include remote work.
  • All or most other teams in your department have hybrid and remote working options, and there is no reasonable justification for your team to be denied these options.
  • You are the only employee who is denied hybrid or remote work options, with no reasonable justification.

In addition to highlighting the items above to your manager, we also recommend discussing your personal situation and providing a proposal of what you would like to see in terms of hybrid or remote working options.

If your manager isn’t receptive to this conversation, you may formally request accommodation.

How do I ask for accommodation?

Email your manager to formally request an accommodation.

When seeking an accommodation of any kind, you must disclose the reasons why you need to be accommodated. Although you may prefer to keep your reasons to yourself, the law on this matter is clear; employees are required to cooperate in the accommodation process by providing documentation required to support their request.

A denial of an accommodation for a disability, medical reason, or family situation could be seen as discriminatory, and therefore violate your collective agreement. The burden of proof in an accommodation situation lies with you – both to prove the grounds of discrimination and to confirm your specific restrictions or functional limitations.

What should I do if my accommodation request is denied?

If your accommodation request is denied, please contact an Employment Relations Officer. After reviewing your request and the reasons it was denied, we will recommend how to proceed, which may include filing a grievance.

How do I file a grievance?

While employers have the legal right to require employee presence in the workplace, PIPSC is actively advocating for return to workplace policies that meet our core principles. We are here to support members who would like to request accommodation or file a grievance.

We recommend starting by having a conversation with your manager. If that’s unsuccessful, you may request an accommodation. If your request for accommodation is denied, an Employment Relations Officer will review your request and the reasons it was denied, and will provide you with a recommendation on how to proceed, which may include filing a grievance.

Your Employment Relations Officer will assess the merits of your situation, advise on the possibility of filing a grievance, and explain all the required forms and documentation if necessary.

I already have an existing telework agreement. What should I do?

We believe that members with existing and valid teleworking agreements should be allowed to continue working remotely. If you have an existing telework agreement but are being forced to return to your workplace, please contact an Employment Relations Officer.