Public Service Employment Regulations review: PSAC pushes for an equitable layoff process

PSAC continues to call for an equitable seniority-based process to identify who could be laid off due to workforce adjustment (WFA) in the federal public service.

PSAC’s approach represents a significant improvement to the existing Selection of Employees for Retention and Lay-off (SERLO) process.

PSAC will staunchly oppose any potential layoffs as a first priority. But in the event of cuts or austerity measures that would result in job losses, the workforce adjustment process must be improved, and unions must play a critical role in these decisions.

Pushing back against SERLO

The SERLO process, introduced in 2012 by the Public Service Commission, is based on individual merit and leads to arbitrary and inconsistent layoff decisions. Furthermore, the process lacks fairness and transparency and does not include sufficient accountability measures.

The SERLO process was particularly disastrous under the Harper government’s Deficit Reduction Action Plan – an exercise that resulted in more than 35,000 federal public service jobs and untold levels of stress and anxiety for PSAC members.

In response, PSAC pushed for improvements to the Workforce Adjustment Appendix at the bargaining table, winning better alternation provisions and the creation of a voluntary departure program. In our most recent bargaining round, PSAC successfully obtained a commitment from Treasury Board regarding a proposal to the Public Service Commission of Canada to incorporate seniority rights into the workforce adjustment process.

PSAC’s proposal prioritizes seniority and equity

PSAC’s proposed model involves working with management to identify distinct work areas for comparison during WFA situations. Seniority lists would be prepared, specifying whether workers belong to equity groups and layoffs would follow a reverse order of seniority, with careful consideration to combat underrepresentation of equity groups within the workforce. This is an equitable solution that is fair, transparent, accountable, and less stressful for all workers.

The proposal also modernizes federal legislation to bring it in line with other jurisdictions, where seniority-based layoff provisions are standard.

Read PSAC’s full submission to the Public Service Commission.


February 6, 2024