Co-development of directives and policies is the central activity of the National Joint Council. NJC co-development is a joint problem-solving process where representatives of the parties work to reach consensus on terms and conditions of employment and on policies that have application across the Public Service. NJC promotes a model of co-development that resembles interest-based negotiations. It emphasizes the co-operative exploration of issues and interests, flexibility and the search for innovative solutions.
For co-development of NJC directives, the By-Laws of the National Joint Council outline the following process:
- Each year, Council establishes a schedule for the review of directives. The cycle for reviewing individual directives may vary from 3 years to 5 years, or sometimes longer.
- Well in advance of the target date for co-developing revisions to a particular directive, the General Secretary issues a call for input to both the Employer and Bargaining Agent Sides (By-law 8.1.1).
- By the established input date, the parties through their respective Side Secretaries identify the subjects and items that they wish to include in the cyclical review, and may submit specific proposals for amendments to the directive (By-law 7.3.1(e)).
- Participation in a cyclical review is optional. The General Secretary circulates the input received from both sides and each member of Council is given the opportunity to decide whether they wish to "opt in" to the cyclical review or "opt out" (By-law 9.1.1).
- Members who "opt in" commit themselves to participating in the NJC cyclical review process for a pre-determined, minimum opting period. By opting in, they undertake not to make proposals on the subject matter of the directive in individual employer-union collective negotiations.
- Members who "opt out" of the directive review are free to address the subject matter of the NJC directive in collective bargaining or in another forum. Under NJC By-laws, the terms and conditions of the existing NJC directive cease to have effect after a specified date.
- Once all participating members are determined for the cyclical review, the Executive Committee mandates the appropriate NJC working committee to proceed with the co-development process. The Committee Chair acts as principal facilitator of discussions. As required, additional process assistance can be arranged through the office of the General Secretary.
- When a consensus is reached, the proposed new directive is submitted to the Executive Committee and to Council for approval. Following approval, all participating members sign the new directive indicating that it henceforth forms part of their respective collective agreements.
- In the event that an impasse is reached, NJC By-laws provide for the possibility of binding third-party arbitration. (To date, there has been no requirement to invoke this option.)
Increasingly, the Executive Committee is working with members of Council to tailor the co-development process to specific situations and to the needs of the parties. With the agreement of Council, timelines for the directive review process may be modified and procedures simplified as circumstances require.