UPDATE on Code 699 Policy Grievance

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Last month, the FPSLREB ruled that the Employer (TBS) could not force employees to exhaust all their other leave options before using the Code 699 leave for COVID-19-related reasons. This decision was rendered in the policy grievance filed by the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) against the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS).

The AJC filed a similar policy grievance which has not yet been adjudicated  but we expect the PSAC decision to be applied to all public sector employees, including our AJC members.

The Board adjudicator stated that:

  • Family leave, sick leave and vacation leave have specific definitions in collective agreements, are separate entitlements and should not be used interchangeably with Code 699 leave.
  • Sick leave is precisely that — employees are entitled to sick leave if they cannot work due to an inability caused by illness or injury. Employees should not be forced to use sick leave if they are not ill or injured. It would however, be appropriate for an employee with active symptoms of Covid-19 to take sick leave where they have it available to them in their banks.
  • Vacation leave should be used for its true purpose, which is enjoying life without work and without any obligation to report to work. Vacation leave is not meant to cover the inability to attend work because of circumstances one cannot alter.
  • Family-related leave is a safety valve for employees who have family responsibilities that might create a sudden requirement. Employees should not have to use family leave to cover the COVID-19-related problems, such as the ongoing closure of schools or daycares because of the pandemic.

Application of ruling and next steps

We have been informed that TBS is currently assessing the legal ramifications of this decision and that departments have been asked to wait before taking any action for past transactions until they receive further instruction from TBS. 

We encourage all AJC members who were forced to exhaust other leave options during the pandemic, despite otherwise meeting the requirements for Code 699 leave to seek an adjustment to their leave banks.  They should request that other types of leave taken instead of Code 699 leave  be restored to their leave banks and their leave be recorded as Code 699, where the ruling is applicable. Please note that Departments may not take action on these requests prior to further direction from TBS.

AJC members who must take a leave of absence due to the pandemic and meet the requirements for using Code 699 leave should request it through their manager.

If you are or have been unable to work due to Covid-19, and have been denied reasonable access to 699 leave, please reach out for support by contacting your regional GC representatives or complete an intake form on the AJC website.