October 29, 2003

21.4.821, 21.4.822, 21.4.823

The employees grieved that the employer had never declared a proper workplace for them to meet the requirements under the Travel Directive. The grievors requested that they be properly compensated as per the Travel Directive for travel time, mileage and meals.

The grievors requested that their residence be determined as the workplace for travel purposes – they claimed that work effects were kept at home. The Department therefore sought TBS advice regarding the feasibility and was advised that it could not have the employees' residence as the workplace. The grievors were advised by letter on May 7, 2001 of their temporary workplace, which was not their home. However, in the Travel Claims attached to the files, some claims – dated after May 7th – had the grievors' residence as temporary workplace and were reimbursed.

The Department denied the grievances on its untimeliness and added that in its opinion the Regional Headquarters was an appropriate designation of workplace as per TBS advice.

The Bargaining Agent representative began with the preliminary issue of timeliness. When the grievors were provided with surplus letters and discussions occurred regarding new work locations, they were given all relevant information, including a copy of the Travel Directive and the Relocation Directive. It was the grievors' opinion that the employer had not treated them within the intent of the Directive with respect to the definition of "workplace".

The definition of "workplace" reads as follows:

"The location at or from which an employee ordinarily performs the duties of his or her position and, in the case of an employee whose duties are of an itinerant nature, the actual building to which the employee returns to prepare and/or submit reports, etc., and where other administrative matters pertaining to the employee's employment are conducted."

The Bargaining Agent representative maintained that the Regional Headquarters could not be considered the grievors' workplace, as they never worked there nor could they. The employer responded during the grievance process by stating that given the "itinerant nature" of the work and as the Regional Headquarters is where "administrative matters pertaining to the employees' employment are conducted", this is their "workplace" and that the employer's actions are appropriate.

The Bargaining Agent representative reiterated that the grievors' are not of an "itinerant nature" given that during that period in question, they performed duties on a rotating scheduled basis at different plants due to the fact that their substantive positions were in a plant, which may or may not open up again.

It was further maintained that when the grievors were required to go to Regional Headquarters for a Union/Management Consultation meeting or a grievance hearing, they were required to wear visitors' badges. The grievors, through no fault of their own, found themselves, for over a year, driving long distances to many different plants.

The employer has the right to advise an employee of a change in work location, but that employee has to actually work at that location or report there if they are performing duties of an "itinerant nature".

The Bargaining Agent representative concluded that the decision of the Department to designate the Regional Headquarters as a "temporary workplace" where the grievors never actually worked or reported, to be a violation of the Travel Directive. The grievors should be reimbursed all monies and entitlements each time they are required to report to the plant where they are reassigned.

The Departmental representative also began with the preliminary issue of timeliness. The grievors were advised that their workplaces had been changed to the Regional Headquarters on May 7, 2001 but did not file grievances challenging the workplace designation until December 2001. This is clearly beyond the 25-day time frame provided in the grievors' collective agreement and as requested by the NJC By-Laws.

The Departmental representative began the presentation on merits by saying that it is the employer's responsibility to designate a workplace for the grievors, as provided for under the Travel Directive. The employer designated the Regional Headquarters as the grievors workplace by letter dated May 7, 2001, which was appropriate given that it was the same location of the grievors' manager and the employee who administered the grievors' leave and work schedules. This met the criteria consistent with the definition of workplace under the Travel Directive and the interpretation that was provided to the Department by the Treasury Board Secretariat. The grievors were also paid the applicable rate of 16 kilometers when they were required to work at Establishment Z.

In conclusion, the Departmental representative stated that the grievors were compensated at the appropriate entitlement, in accordance with the Travel Directive and that these grievances should be denied.

The Executive Committee considered and agreed with the Government Travel Committee report which concluded that the grievors were advised that their workplaces had been changed on May 7, 2001 but did not file grievances challenging the workplace designation until December 2001. The grievances were therefore outside the prescribed time limits and the Committee agreed that the grievances were untimely.