The Executive Committee of the National Joint Council (NJC) is pleased to announce that it recently accepted the report of the Government Travel Committee pertaining to the cyclical review of the Commuting Assistance Directive.
The Directive was developed in partnership by employer and bargaining agent representatives to the NJC. Its provisions form part of the collective agreements between the participating parties under the By-Laws of the National Joint Council.
This Communiqué highlights the changes to the revised Directive.
The revised Directive is effective on June 1, 2010. To allow all interested parties an opportunity to become familiar with the changes contained therein, the document is being made available in advance of that date.
Highlights of Changes
The expanded Purpose recognizes that providing Commuting Assistance also facilitates the recruitment and retention of staff delivering government programs at these remote worksites.
The Purpose highlights the applicability of the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Treasury Board Policy on the Duty to Accommodate Persons with Disabilities in the Federal Public Service:
"Decisions and practices flowing from this directive shall be inclusive and barrier free. For instance, it is the employer's duty to ensure that the employee with a disability(ies) is fully accommodated to the point of undue hardship."
Paragraph (a) now clarifies that extra kilometers driven for personal reasons are allowed but will not be reimbursed.
Paragraph (e) now requires that the deputy head consider the legitimacy of the employee's reason(s) for declining a written offer of Crown housing.
Suitable residential community
The definition of suitable residential community now refers the reader to a newly created Appendix C for guidance in determining whether a community may be deemed a suitable residential community.
Newly created Appendix C is a non-exclusive list of criteria to assist departmental representatives and affected bargaining agents in determining if a community may be deemed a suitable residential community. It is important to note that Appendix C is a tool and is for general guidance only.
3. More than one Department
A new requirement for the deputy heads to consult with the affected bargaining agents before making their collective determination under subsection 3.1 has been added.
"When more than one department has employees at a worksite, the deputy heads shall determine collectively, following consultation with the affected bargaining agents:
a) how this directive will be applied and implemented; and
b) what type of commuting assistance will be authorized."
The employee contribution when a vehicle service is provided by the employer will remain unchanged at the 2005 rate of $1.75.
The Committee has agreed to review the rate of contribution at each cyclical review, taking into account a methodology approved by the parties.
The Committee has committed to developing and recommending a methodology by the end of 2011.
A new example of an exception, paragraph 6.3 (f), addresses excessive time spent in public transit.
"Where deputy heads are of the opinion that they are not permitted by this directive to authorize commuting assistance, either they or the affected bargaining agents may submit the matter to the National Joint Council. The Treasury Board Secretariat may, on the recommendation of the National Joint Council, make a determination.
The documentation submitted to the National Joint Council shall include a statement:
(a) to the effect that consultations have taken place; and
(b) identifying the abnormal circumstances supporting a recommendation that commuting assistance be authorized, even though such circumstances clearly lie outside these guidelines.
Examples of such circumstances are:
(f) excessive time spent on public transit."
The new title of Appendix B clarifies that the list of qualified worksites and designated suitable residential communities is non-exclusive and for reference only.
Departments are strongly encouraged to keep their Designated Departmental Commuting Assistance Coordinators apprised of all changes to qualified worksites and/or designated suitable residential communities for inclusion in Appendix B.
Appendix B was updated as part of this cyclical review. Appendix B now lists 106 qualified worksites.
The Committee has agreed that Treasury Board Secretariat will update Appendix B as required. Therefore, Appendix B may not capture all worksites where commuting assistance is currently authorized.
The revised Commuting Assistance Directive is available at the following link: http://www.njc-cnm.gc.ca/directive/index.php?vid=22.
A series of Questions and Answers has been developed and is posted on the NJC Website: http://www.njc-cnm.gc.ca/s24/s27/d494/en.
The NJC Executive Committee acknowledges and thanks the bargaining agent side and the employer side members of the NJC Government Travel Committee for their commitment and their outstanding work involved in the review of this Directive.
Enquiries about this Directive should be referred to the respective Bargaining Agent, or Designated Departmental Commuting Assistance Coordinator(s).