CAPE is extremely concerned with TBS’ decision to introduce restrictive guidelines that seek to limit access to leave with pay under Code 699.
What You Can Do
a) Contact your CAPE Labour Relations Officer
If you are having difficulty accessing leave under Code 699 or are being asked by your employer to use other types of leave, please contact your CAPE Labour Relations Officer (LRO) immediately to discuss the situation.
To date, we have been successful at resolving many of these situations and ensuring that our collective agreements are properly applied.
Informing your LRO of instances where you have been denied leave under Code 699 is important as it will help us gather the information that we need to support our policy grievances.
b) Schedule Annual Leave
It is also recommended that members schedule all annual leave credited for this year in advance. This is to avoid the employer denying Code 699 leave on the basis that you have unscheduled annual leave.
When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit Canada in early 2020, CAPE along with other federal bargaining agents (BAs) and the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS), worked together to transition much of the federal public service to working remotely.
At the same time, this working group was looking to identify appropriate and sustainable measures to help support employees in the context of the pandemic. The goal was to ensure that leave with pay under Code 699 would be available when, as per CAPE’s collective agreements, circumstances not directly attributable to the employee prevent their reporting for duty. The BAs continue to advocate for TBS to allow employees to access leave with pay under Code 699 for the duration of the pandemic.
Leave under Code 699 provides members with the ability to access paid leave for purposes other than those specified in their collective agreements. Although this leave is discretionary, the Employer’s discretion is not absolute as management must exercise its discretion reasonably and in a non-discriminatory manner.
Access to leave 699 has been an important tool for management and employees to ensure that certain accommodation measures were in place during the pandemic – particularly for those at greater risk due to their medical situation or those of their family members.
Despite our many attempts to engage in interest-based discussions with the employer, on November 9, 2020, the TBS released updated guidelines on the use of leave with pay under Code 699. These guidelines are extremely restrictive and require employees to use other types of leave including vacation, sick leave or leave without pay before being considered for leave 699.
After exploring possible recourse options, on November 6, 2020, CAPE filed policy grievances with the TBS for the EC and TR groups.
Our policy grievances allege that the TBS Guidelines regarding the use of Code 699 leave:
a) Violate CAPE’s collective agreements by attempting to introduce language into those agreements that does not exist;
b) Constitute an unreasonable exercise of management rights;
c) Violate the no discrimination clauses in our collective agreements as well as sections 7 and 10 of the Canadian Human Rights Act on the basis of sex, family status, disability and race. It is also a violation of guaranteed equality rights under s. 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is well established that women and minority groups have been disproportionally affected by the impact of the pandemic and the TBS Guidelines regarding the application of Code 699 leave will result in a furtherance of these disparities.
d) Will result in adverse effect discrimination of women, caregivers, and people with disabilities. These groups of employees will disproportionally have to deplete their vacation leave, compensatory leave, and personal leave entitlements.
e) Violate the health and safety provisions of our collective agreements as the unreasonable denial of leave under Code 699 will result in employees reporting to work when they should not, thereby exposing themselves or others to the risk of infection by the COVID-19 virus.