Feds release guidebook on return of public servants to worksites

Feds release guidebook on return of public servants to worksites

“The federal government on Monday took the first steps towards welcoming back public servants to the office by releasing a playbook on how to gradually ease COVID-19 restrictions at its worksites.

The guidebook for what the federal government refer to as deputy heads, the non-political managers of federal departments and agencies, lay out what individual departments should do to prepare worksites for the return of their employees.

It was prepared by the Treasury Board Secretariat, the employer of the federal public service, in collaboration with Health Canada and Public Services and Procurement Canada, which acts as the landlord for many federal worksites.

Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos said in a message released Monday that re-opening access to federal worksites will be “gradual and will vary from organization to organization, each according to their own operational circumstances.”

He also noted that the planning process is being guided by the decisions of public health authorities and will take into “consideration the local public health situation and the nature of the work.”

Among other changes, the guidebook advises department heads to plan for a reduced use of facilities by assessing the capacity of their worksites based on physical distancing rules, to revisit privacy considerations in the wake of the number of employees working remotely and to  by strengthen “digital and general skill acquisition for public servants.”

In mid-March, as the pandemic began prompting emergency orders and shutdowns across Canada, the Treasury Board started directing managers to consider “telework for all employees, at all work sites.” It also tasked federal organizations with determining “how to manage through exceptional situations that do not lend themselves to telework,” such as situations that require an on-site presence or that come with security limitations.

BACKGROUNDERTreasury Board advising managers to let employees ‘telework’

But, despite the release of the guidebook on Monday, Duclos stressed that many public servants will continue working remotely for the “foreseeable future.”

“I have witnessed first-hand the accomplishments of our public servants these past months, and I have never been more certain that Canada has the best public service in the world,” he said.”