Telework: Government clarifies “critical services”

Last week PSAC asked the government for clarification on the use of the term “critical services” and how it relates to exceptions to telework. 

In response the government re-issued directives to department heads today that included this clarification: 

“Managers are to consider on-site work only if the work meets the definition of critical service and working remotely to support it is not feasible. 

A critical service is one that, if disrupted, would result in a high or very high degree of injury to the health, safety, security or economic well-being of Canadians, or to the effective functioning of the Government of Canada. All departments are required to identify their respective critical services and related supporting resources. For more information, please refer to the Policy on Government Security

Given the nature of the crisis, your existing list of critical services may not be up to date. If you have not done so already, I invite you to revise it accordingly and to identify redundancy for the highest demand jobs, to account for possible absences or to prevent burnout of staff should the situation persist.  

By contrast, an essential service is used to determine which positions must continue to provide service during strike activity. Essential service agreements are agreed to with the bargaining agents. No current essential service agreements exist for the vast majority of public service organizations.” 

For more information, please visit PSAC’s resources page on COVID-19


March 21, 2020