Rodrigo Diaz M.
According to a Treasury Council document, more than one in three federal civil servants unable to work received paid leave during the first nine months of the COVID-19 pandemic, at a cost of more than $ 800 million.
At the beginning of the pandemic, officials were told to work from home if possible, to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus through government offices.
However, employees who were unable to telecommute continued to be paid under a provision known as the “699” wage code, which allows “other paid leave.”
The number of workers who were licensed 699 peaked in April of more than 73,000. By the end of November, that number had dropped to just over 9,000, according to the latest figures.
In all, 117,000, or 39%, of federal employees spread across 86 departments and agencies received approval for leave. This number was reduced by 95% as of January 6, 2021.
Special leave must be approved by management and is granted when employees are unable to report to work for reasons beyond their control. It is independent of sick pay or vacation pay.
“From March 15 to November 30, 2020, the estimated cost of ‘Other Paid Leave (699)’ is approximately $ 819 million, based on the average daily pay rate of approximately $ 300 for employees of the federal public administration with the right to leave, ”says the Treasury Council document, dated February 19.
“This figure is based on data submitted by employees and captured in departmental systems.”
On November 9, the Treasury Board issued a “clarification” of its permit policy, instructing managers that 699 permits could be granted “on a case-by-case basis,” and only after considering telecommuting or alternative or flexible schedules.
Additionally, the government said that other types of leave, including accrued sick time and vacation, would have to be used first.
The Public Service Alliance of Canada, which represents the majority of federal employees, has filed numerous complaints about the new guidelines. He has also filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
The union maintains that the directive disproportionately affects marginalized employees most affected by the pandemic.