Is Ottawa reducing pay for workers at home?

CRA remote workers will not get reporting pay, meal allowance, says union

Is Ottawa reducing pay for workers at home?

The union representing workers at the Canada Revenue Agency’s financial, audit and scientific unit is criticizing the federal government for a “number of demands to reduce pay” for employees working from home.

The federal government is looking to have a different pay plan for remote workers and in-office staff at the government unit, says the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) in a bargaining update on negotiations.

“Now is the time to introduce provisions to protect our members’ right to telework and flexible work hours,” says Doug Mason, president of the financial, audit and scientific unit, in an Ottawa Citizen report.

“Unfortunately, the employer served a number of demands to reduce pay for employees working from home. This is [a] slap in the face to our members who stepped up during the pandemic to deliver emergency benefits to Canadians under unprecedented working conditions.”

In May, Apple employees called on executives to rethink their company’s return-to-office strategy.


Non-monetary proposals by the government include differentiating between overtime pay and standby pay for employees who are working from home and those who are required to physically show up at work. This is “to recognize the difference in the level of inconvenience” between the two situations, according to the proposal.

The government claims that those who are authorized to work from home should not be eligible for reporting pay, reports the Ottawa Citizen. It also claims that these workers should also not be entitled to expenses for lodging or meals if they work three or more hours of overtime immediately before or after their regularly scheduled hours of work. Meanwhile, those reporting in the office will still qualify for a $12 meal reimbursement.

Those at a place of work will still qualify for a $12 meal reimbursement.

Meanwhile, the union and the government agreed that an employee’s normal workday can be 7.5 non-consecutive hours, not including an unpaid meal break, at the request of an employee and with the approval of the employer. This is the case as long as the terms of the agreement “don’t cost the government any more money,” according to the report.

The union is also proposing that the employer grant an employee’s written request to work in an alternative location, subject to operational requirements, and that the details of this agreement must be in writing and consistent with the collective agreement. 

In Canada, 80 per cent of remote workers say they would rather look for a new job if required to go back to the office full-time, according to a previous report.

Back-to-office planning

PIPSC, which has 70,000 members with 27 different employers in seven different jurisdictions, says that its members still prefer to work remotely.

“Most PIPSC members don’t want to return to the workplace full-time. We have proven that we can be equally productive working remotely. The flexibility to work remotely is critical to many who have care responsibilities, different working styles, and other reasons.”

Foot traffic in Canada has risen to its highest level since the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s still down from before the health crisis hit.

However, the union is involved in bi-weekly meetings with the Treasury Board and other public sector unions about the return to the workplace.

All plans to return to work should be safe, flexible and fair. While employers have the legal right to require employee presence in the workplace, PIPSC said it is advocating for return to workplace policies that meet those principles.

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