It is important to note that a “reasonable job offer” (RJO) is technical term that applies to a job offer within the parameters that are set out in the WFAA. Even though workers being impacted may feel that the job being offered is neither reasonable nor fair, it may still be considered an RJO as defined in the WFAA. Below are answers to some common questions.
How is “reasonable job offer” defined in the Workforce Adjustment Appendix?
The definition of a Reasonable Job Offer specific to Part I to VI is “an offer of indeterminate employment within the Core Public Administration, normally at an equivalent level, but which could include lower levels. Surplus employees must be both trainable and mobile. Where practicable, a reasonable job offer shall be within the employee’s headquarters as defined in the Travel Directive.” (Definitions)
Under the WFAA, a RJO:
- must be for indeterminate employment within the Core Public Administration
- will normally be at the same level, but could be for a lower level (in which case the employee would be salary protected).
- should be within the employee’s headquarters' area as defined in the NJC Travel Directive, but this may not always be possible
A reasonable job offer could be one from a separate agency (such as Canada Revenue Agency) but if so, it must at the same level of pay and be a seamless transfer of all employee benefits (i.e. recognition of service for the definition of continuous employment, accrual of benefits, transfer of sick leave credits, and accumulated vacation credits and severance pay).
For employees who are in a workforce adjustment situation due to an Alternative Delivery Initiative (ADI), there is a different definition of a RJO. Type 1 and Type 2 offers are considered reasonable job offers, while Type 3 offers are not. For more information, see Alternate Delivery Initiatives.
What happens if there is a relocation of my work unit? Is the relocated job considered a RJO?
When a work unit is being relocated, the employees who decide that they do not want to relocate must either be given a guarantee of a reasonable job offer or access to the options available to opting employees (3.1.2). Note however, that while departments must “endeavor to respect employee location preferences”, the department can still offer the relocated position as a reasonable job offer after spending as much time “as operations permit” looking for something in the employee’s preferred location (3.1.4).
There is no specific definition or criteria as to the meaning for “as much time as operations permit”, although the wording leaves management with some discretion. However, management’s discretion must still be used reasonably.
In Donald vs. Treasury Board (National Defence) 1999 before the Public Service Staff Relations Board, the adjudicator noted that relocation may be considered a “reasonable job offer”.
The grievor’s position was being relocated from BC to Halifax. The grievor did not want to relocate with the job. After a search and an extension of the surplus period, the employer did not find any other positions and offered him his relocated position. He declined it and therefore was laid off.
The arbitrator found that during the surplus period, the Employer made a sincere and reasonable effort to find alternative employment for the grievor. After the search, the offer of the relocated position was a “reasonable job offer” in accordance with the WFAD.
The arbitrator made the following comments:
I would have a quite different view of this matter if the employer had maintained, as it did initially, that the offer of the relocated position, immediately following the commencement of the surplus status period, is a reasonable job offer. That would effectively deny the grievor the benefits of the option which he had made under paragraph 3.1.1. However, having given the grievor the benefit of the surplus period and indeed extending that period, and having, in good faith, attempted to find alternative employment for the grievor, I do not believe the employer is required to indefinitely keep the employee on surplus status, and ignore the fact that in another part of the country there is a position available to him for which he is fully qualified.
In the situation where the employer has diligently attempted to find a position in the employee’s preferred area but has not been successful, the relocated position would be considered an RJO and if the employee refuses it, they can be laid off (1.1.32).
What about other WFA situations? Will I have to relocate if I am surplus?
If you have been declared surplus and have been given a guarantee of a reasonable job offer, or if you are an opting employee who has chosen Option A, a reasonable job offercould be one that is outside of your preferred location if the employer cannot identify positions in your preferred area. But again, the employer must first search for jobs within your preferred location.
What other considerations are there?
Article 1.1.19 must also be considered when management is determining whether to relocate employees. Article 1.1.19 states:
“Relocation of surplus employees or laid-off persons shall be undertaken when the individuals indicate that they are willing to relocate and relocation will enable their redeployment or reappointment, provided that:
- there are no available priority persons, or priority persons with a higher priority, qualified and interested in the position being filled; or
- there are no available local surplus employees or laid-off persons who are interested and who could qualify with retraining.”
In light of Article 1.1.19, the union’s position is that both mobility and the employer’s interpretation of what is practicable has to seriously take into account whether the employees have expressed whether they are willing to relocate or not. Besides the obligation to look for positions first in the headquarters area, the employer has an obligation to ensure that there are no available surplus or priority employees in the potential community to which the relocation is targeted.
Even when the department/agency has met their obligations, there may be alternatives torelocation that should be discussed at WFA committees.
Who pays the costs of relocation?
Note that when employees are relocated due to a workforce adjustment situation, therelocation would be considered an employer-requested relocation and therefore the costs associated with relocating would be covered as per the NJC Relocation Directive.
What can the union do?
In all WFA situations, including cases of relocation of a work unit, it is important for the WFA committee to ensure that the employer is in fact looking for opportunities for employees within their preferred areas, and to take the time looking for those opportunities.
In cases where the department has not been able to find a position within an employee’s preferred area, management should provide information to the union about the search for jobs and be able to explain why they were unable to find something within the employee’s area.
Is a lower position a reasonable job offer?
As indicated in the definition of an RJO, a lower-rated position can be considered areasonable job offer; however, in these cases employees will be salary protected. Article 1.1.16 states that “Departments or organizations shall avoid appointment to a lower level except where all other avenues have been exhausted.” Thus, appointment to a lower level position is generally a last resort.
If you are appointed to a lower level job, your salary (and any pay equity equalization payments) will be protected until you are appointed or deployed into a position with a maximum rate of pay that is equal to or higher than the maximum rate of pay of the position from which you were declared surplus.
The WFAA also states that the Public Service Commission “will ensure that a reinstatement priority is given to all employees who are appointed to a position at a lower level” (Annex C). This reinstatement priority is for one year, in accordance with the Public Service Employment Act and Regulations.
Is a term position considered a reasonable job offer?
No, a term position is not considered a reasonable job offer, since only indeterminate positions are considered RJOs. However, the employer can offer surplus employees term positions in order to provide them with work during the surplus period. In this case, the employer is still obliged to find them an indeterminate position and must protect their indeterminate status and surplus status (1.1.25).
What happens if I refuse a reasonable job offer?
If an employee refuses a RJO, the employer can lay-off the employee (with one months’ notice but not before 6 months after the surplus date). If an employee is laid off for refusing a RJO, they will have a 12 month layoff priority for other jobs within the Public Service. Upon layoff, employees are eligible for severance pay under the terms of the Collective Agreement, but would not be eligible for any other WFA payments.