Questions and Answers


Q1. To which group of employees does this new Work Force Adjustment (WFA) Directive apply?

A1. The Directive applies to employees represented by the bargaining agents listed in Appendix B. It also applies to employees who are excluded or unrepresented such as employees in the PE classification.

Q2. Does the Directive apply to employees represented by the Professional Institute of the Public Service (PIPSC), the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) or The Union of Canadian Correctional Officers (UCCO)?

A2. No. The WFA provisions for employees represented by those bargaining agents are found in an appendix of their respective collective agreement.

Q3. Does the Directive apply to the employees in the Executive (EX) classification?

A3. No. The WFA provisions for EXs are found in the Directive on Career Transition for Executives.


Q4. What has changed in the definition of the Transition Support Measure (TSM)?

A4. A TSM will now be calculated on the basis of an employee’s total years of service in the public service. In the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations Act, Public Service is defined as:

  1. the departments named in Schedule I of the Financial Administration Act;
  2. the other portions of the federal public administration named in Schedule IV of that Act; and
  3. the separate agencies named in Schedule V of that Act. 

Q5. In order to receive reimbursement for the education allowance, what is considered relevant equipment? What documents are required to receive reimbursement of the expenses?

A5. Relevant equipment is the equipment required by the learning institution for the specific learning program. Employees must provide receipts and a document from the institution which indicates the list of books and equipment required for the program. Employees may provide a copy of the document to their manager prior to purchasing the equipment as well as an estimate of the cost of the equipment for approval. The manager may contact their HR advisor if he/she has further questions concerning eligibility.

Part I - Roles and Responsibilities

Q6. What new provisions have been included regarding departmental WFA committees?

A6. Subsection 1.1.3 provides for the establishment of joint union-management committees to advise and consult on WFA situations within departments and organizations. Consultation with bargaining agents is an ongoing process once a decision is made that a WFA situation will occur. A new requirement for this WFA Directive is the establishment of terms of reference for addressing alternation requests from other departments and organizations during a WFA situation.

Q7. A manager wants to hire an external contractor when a number of employees have been declared surplus or opting. What are his/her obligations under the Directive?

A7. As per subsection 1.1.29, where practicable, the manager should assess if the work can be done by surplus employees or laid-off persons and refrain from engaging or re-engaging outsourced personnel.

Q8. What information should the HR advisor provide to an employee who receives a surplus or opting letter? Can the bargaining agent attend this meeting?

A8. The HR advisor will provide a wide range of information (see list of topics in subsection 1.1.36). Particular focus will be on explaining the alternation process to employees for whom the deputy head is providing options (as opposed to a guarantee of a reasonable job offer). The alternation process is explained in section 6.3 of the Directive.

The employees will also be reminded that they can access the Employee Assistance Program for support during this stressful time.

Yes, the employee can choose to be accompanied by a bargaining agent representative during the counselling meeting.

Part II – Official Notification

Q9. What are the new requirements in the Directive regarding the official notification process to TBS and Bargaining Agents?

A9. Departments and organizations must provide a copy of each employee’s lay-off notification to the respective bargaining agent (see subsection 1.1.33) at least one month before the proposed lay-off date. This notification, as well as the official notification to TBS and bargaining agents under subsections 2.1.2 and 2.1.3 may now be sent electronically. Departments and organizations must ensure that the transmission is done in confidence.

Part IV – Retraining

Q10. What are the obligations of a manager if he/she denies retraining to a surplus employee?

A10. If a retraining plan is denied, a meeting to discuss the rationale for the decision will be held at the employee’s request. The bargaining agent representative may attend the meeting.

Q11. What has changed in subsection 4.2.7 regarding the retraining provisions in the context of a relocation?

A11. The provisions have not changed. The subsection has been reworded to clarify the interpretation. Employees who are provided with a guarantee of a reasonable job offer and granted a relocation are entitled to a 2 year retraining period and up to one additional year or until the date of appointment to the other position, whichever comes first. The maximum entitlement could therefore be a total of 3 years of retraining.

Part VI – Options for Employees

Q12. How will the new voluntary departure program be implemented in a WFA situation?

A12. A voluntary departure program is established when there are positions to eliminate and the deputy head knows that he/she will not be able to predict employment availability in the core public administration for employees whose services will no longer be required. When the deputy head can predict employment availability for its employees, a guarantee of a reasonable job offer is provided to them and there is no need to seek volunteers as the deputy head expects that all employees will be able to find employment.

The voluntary departure program must be established when 5 or more employees at the same group and level within a work unit receive an affected letter. An affected status means that it is possible that the services of employees may no longer be required because of a work force adjustment situation. The deputy head will also be able to establish a voluntary departure program in work units where less than 5 employees at the same group and level receive an affected letter. This will generally depend on the operational needs.

The affected period is the period of time during which the deputy head will determine the employees who will remain in the organization and those who will be declared surplus or opting because their services will no longer be required. It is during this specific period of time that the voluntary departure program must take place.

The purpose is to provide an opportunity for employees who do not wish to secure alternate employment in the event their services are no longer required, to make a formal request to leave the public service by selecting one of the options listed in paragraph 6.4.1(b) or subparagraphs (c)(i) or (c)(ii). Employees will not be eligible to the twelve-month surplus priority period (Option 6.4.1(a)) because the purpose of the voluntary departure program is to seek volunteers who wish to leave in the immediate future.

The process for each WFA situation will be subject to meaningful consultation with bargaining agents. The department will need to identify the number of positions for reduction prior to implementing the voluntary program. Employees will have a minimum of 30 calendar days to decide if they wish to participate. When the number of volunteers is larger than the required number of positions to be eliminated, volunteers will be selected based onseniority. If there are an insufficient number of volunteers, then the department will conduct a selection of employees for retention or layoff (SERLO) process. Information on the SERLO process can be found on the Public Service Commission website as SERLOs are not governed by the WFA Directive.

Q13. Do we need to set up a voluntary departure program for each WFA exercise?

A13. A voluntary departure program is required for each WFA exercise where 5 or more employees at the same group and level within a work unit receive an affected letter. If multiple work units are being subject to WFA, the department may have to create multiple programs or negotiate a process that will apply to a number of work units.

Q14. What are the next steps if there are not enough volunteers and the manager must determine that the services of employees will no longer be required?

A14. As stated in the answer to question 12, a SERLO will be conducted AFTER the voluntary program is completed. The selection of volunteers and the confirmation of the selection of their option for departure should be completed before a SERLO is conducted with the remaining employees.

Once the results of the SERLOs are known, the employees whose services are no longer required will be informed in writing of whether the deputy head is providing them with a guarantee of a reasonable job offer, or options available through the WFA Directive.

Q15. What is the purpose of an alternation program and why have new features been added to this program?

A15. In the past, only opting employees could alternate during the 120 day opting period. As the timeframe for opting employees to find an alternate was time limited (120 days), the program has now been extended to employees who select the twelve-month surplus priority period (Option 6.4.1(a)). If an alternate is chosen during the twelve-month surplus period, the TSM paid to the alternate will be reduced by one week for each week between the beginning of the employee’s surplus period and the date of the alternation. Employees will therefore still be encouraged to find an alternate during the opting period to maximize the alternate’s TSM.

Q16. What has changed regarding the transition support measure in options 6.4.1(b) (c)(i) and (c)(ii)?

A16. As stated in the definition section, the TSM will now be calculated on the basis of an employee’s total years of service in the public service. In addition, the TSM can now be split in two amounts payable over a two-year period. This new provision was included in order for the payment measures of the TSM under Options (b) and (c)(i) to be the same as (c)(ii). In the past, (c)(ii), was the only option where the payment could be paid in two lump sums.

Q17. The amount for counselling services for opting employees have increased from $600 to $1200. When can these services be obtained?

A17. Counselling services are to be obtained during the 120 day opting period. The intent of the provision is for opting employees to obtain financial, re-employment or retirement counselling to help them select one of the 3 options listed in 6.4.1(a), (b) and (c)(i) (c)(ii).

Q18. Under which circumstances are options 6.4.1(a), (b) and (c)(i) and (c)(ii) available to employees?

A18. The following table will help to clarify the circumstances when each option is available. Option (a) is not provided in the context of a voluntary or alternation program because employees make a voluntary decision to vacate their position as soon as possible in order to obtain a lump sum payment in exchange for leaving the public service.

Option (c)(ii) is not offered in the context of an alternation program because the intent is to eliminate a position as soon as possible (subsection 6.3.5). The position cannot be eliminated when an employee selects an education allowance as the departure date can be delayed until the maximum 2 year period in order for the employees to continue contributing to the benefit plans and superannuation plan while attending a learning program.


Option (a)

Option (b)

Option (c)(i)

Option ( c)(ii)

Voluntary Departure program





Opting letter