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Flexible and Virtual Work

We want to ensure that employees who are able to work from home receive the support they need to achieve their work and maintain our essential operations. As phase one of our return to office plan commences this fall, new guidelines have been developed to help our teams who may need to continue to work virtually for the foreseeable future. The guidelines include principles and support on managing flex-time, maintaining important connections with colleagues and how to access employee supports, including those designed to protect your health and safety while working from home.

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General FAQ

What is a flexible work arrangement?

A flexible work arrangement is an alteration to the time and/or place that work is performed on a regular basis.

What type of flexible work arrangements are available at Canadian Blood Services?
  1. Virtual work - when an employee performs their job away from a traditional office location.
  2. Flex-time - when the start and end times of an employees working day are altered and some/or all of their job is performed outside of traditional working hours, but they still work their agreed upon number of hours.
Are all employees eligible for a flexible work arrangement?

No, while all employees have the ability to request flexible work arrangements, the decision is based on operational requirements. Positions with a high level of autonomy are most suitable for flex-time. These include administrative, professional, or similar information-based positions.

Who makes the decision about a flexible or virtual work arrangement?

In the past, flexible work was typically a voluntary arrangement and requested by employees. However, the current context, and factors such as public health considerations, operational requirements, the location of an employee’s residence or space restrictions may cause it to be mandated by Canadian Blood Services.

  • While all employees have the ability to request flexible work arrangements or work onsite; the decision is made by leaders and based on public health considerations and operational requirements specific to their role.
  • Fair, equitable and transparent discussion regarding work arrangements between leaders and employees is essential.
What if I need to work reduced hours?

These guidelines do not cover accommodations such as reduced schedules. Please speak to your leader or PCP business partner if you have questions.

Is there any time when leaders can terminate or alter the arrangement?

Leaders may terminate or amend the arrangement based on a number or reasons, including public health considerations, operational requirements, and staffing changes, leadership changes, performance, etc.

Can a request for a flexible work arrangement for the same position but in different departments be handled differently?

Every job, location, employee and situation are different; it cannot be assumed that the same decision is appropriate for two similar positions. Leaders know the operational requirements of their departments and sites best and are responsible for final decisions on how to get work accomplished.

What happens if an employee with a flexible work arrangement transfers to another department?

The employee and their new leader should discuss the situation and determine if the employee's current flexible work arrangement is appropriate for the new role and department.

How often can a person alter their flexible work arrangement?

That will depend on a variety of factors, including type of arrangement, operational requirements, the frequency of requests, the success of current arrangements, etc. However, for consistency it is best to stick to a set arrangement.

Who initiates a flexible work arrangement?

Flexible work options are generally introduced in a work environment by an employee who determines that they would like to have a flexible work option. However, leaders may also suggest flexible work options for some or all employees. Leaders and employees are encouraged to discuss individual and organizational needs and to work together to develop the best possible arrangements for their situation.

What happens if a meeting, training session or important event is scheduled when I am supposed to be off, or my schedule needs to be adjusted for a short period of time for a special event or specific project?

It is important to remember that operations must not be impacted as result of employees using flexible work options. There will be events or meetings that cannot be scheduled around flex-time. The employee and leader would need to discuss and determine how it will be handled.

What do I do if my flexible work arrangement isn't working out?

Your first step is to talk with your leader. It is up to the two of you to work out the details. If there are further issues, contact your PCP Business Partner.

Will CBS be issuing T2200 forms to virtual employees?

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has provided a draft response to the issuance of T2200’s for the 2020 calendar year. The CRA is proposing to revise the standard T2200 form, into a simplified version specific to claiming expenses related to working from home during the pandemic. 

Canadian Blood Services is taking the proactive approach by starting work on implementing a solution to ensure a mechanism is in place for next year’s tax season.  

The CRA’s proposal for addressing working from home during the pandemic is subject to change as they have been made aware of the large administrative burden this will have for employers across the country.

As additional information is released, we will be sure to provide updates to employees.

Equipment and expenses FAQ

What employees are eligible?

Those employees who have been asked to work from home since the pandemic began in March and expect to work at home for some time to come.

I have or may have an injury that needs to be accommodated with specialty ergonomic equipment-is it possible to get that for my home? ​

Please contact our OHS/EHS group to have a remote ergonomic assessment completed and they will be able to procure the ergonomic equipment you require.

How do I go about getting equipment? ​

One way is for the employee to complete the ergonomic request form on Connect, submit it to their manager who sends it to OHS/EHS to have them assess your home office setup, virtually. The OHS or EHS Coordinator may suggest additional equipment which can be purchased directly by the OHS/EHS team on your behalf. ​

A second way is for you to order your own equipment, without an ergonomic assessment, and submit the receipts for reimbursement.

Many started working from home over six months ago and purchased items when it was not known that this would be available and might no longer have receipts. What flexibility do managers have to approve unsubstantiated claims?

To ensure we have appropriate financial controls and backup for expenses we require receipts to be submitted for reimbursement.

I already purchased equipment; can I still be reimbursed?

Receipts arising during the period of March 15, 2020, to March 31, 2021 will be accepted.

Does the $200 cover the purchase of office supplies? 

We are not reimbursing consumable office expenses. The funding is to assist employees in setting up their home offices for safety and comfort. Employees should retain their receipts for consumables to apply for possible tax breaks at year end through their income tax returns.

$200 doesn’t seem like a lot of money. If that is the limit, would we allow people to get their chairs, monitors, keyboard, mice, etc from work instead?

To accommodate the Return to Office plans we need to ensure that the appropriate equipment is in the offices, therefore no further equipment can be taken from our facilities.

If employees already had equipment based on ergonomic assessments, can they go to the office and pick up the items rather than buying new? Especially if it will be returning to the office later?

Please consult with your OHS/EHS Coordinator for specific issues related to specialty equipment already purchased.

What do you mean by one-time? What if this week someone needs a mouse and next week, a desk? If total under $200 are they good? How do we track? FT vs contract employees?

The money is for this fiscal year only. Multiple receipts can be submitted, and we will be using our Concur system to track towards the $200 limit.

For the $200 reimbursement for home office purchases, are there any guidelines or suggestions on equipment or is approval at the discretion of the manager?

A list of types of items is below. Managers will approve expenses through our normal processes so will have the regular authority to approve expenses.

Items that will be reimbursed include:

  • Computer Accessories (Non-taxable, receipt required) ​
    • Mouse​
    • Keyboard​
    • Headset​
    • Required cables (Ethernet, HDMI for monitors, DVI to VGA cable etc.) ​
  • Furniture – Not related to an Ergo assessment (Taxable, receipt required) ​
    • Desk (standard or sit-stand) ​
    • Chair​
    • Desk lights​
    • Ergo type equipment (Monitor risers, monitor arms, laptop risers, footrests, wrist rests for keyboard & mouse, keyboard platforms, document holders, corner makers, back rest and seat rest)
  • Personal Computer Equipment (Non-taxable. Receipt Required) ​printers and monitors are  also eligible; IT has developed guidance on suggested models in order to offer the best technical support on affordable home office options:
    • Printers: Any HP All in One model of printers/scanners/copiers. Price and feature-set ranges between models.
    • Monitors:  Viewsonic Ergonomic 24” monitor. This is our current corporate standard monitor compatible with all CBS PCs.

Responsibility for ordering, receiving and maintenance of items rests with the employee.

Receipts are to be submitted through Concur for reimbursement up to the maximum of $200.

The following computer equipment will not be reimbursed: Computers, laptops, desktops, tablets, cell phones, webcams.

What types of items are not included?

Office supplies will not be covered, this includes toner, calculators, paper etc. There may be an income tax reduction available for these costs, please retain your receipts and ask your tax advisor about any personal tax savings opportunities

Home internet, personal cellphone and utility costs will not be covered.

Are there specific models of computer associated equipment that I should look at first​?

Yes, IT has a list of preferred Hardware items. They can be found on Connect.

Does this include printers? 

Yes, however, please understand that IT will only support equipment that is included on the IT list of preferred items. IT has suggested ordering Any HP All in One model of printers/scanners/copiers. Price and feature-set ranges between models. Ordering an HP ALL in One model allows employees  the best technical support on affordable home office options.

Is this a taxable benefit?

The CRA has designated that the purchase of personal computer equipment is not a taxable benefit (under $500) however the purchase of any furniture or other equipment will be considered a taxable benefit and will be included on the employees T4 at the end of the year. ​

Do I need to return the equipment to CBS when or if I return to the office? ​

No, self-purchased equipment through this program is not expected to return to the office. Specialty equipment procured through an ergonomics assessment may be required to be returned based on discussions with OHS/EHS group. ​

Can I use my corporate travel card or purchasing card for these items?

Yes, you can use your travel card. Department purchase cards should not be used as it is not possible to assign the charges to a specific employee’s allowance. For your travel card, when submitting your expense claim you will code the expense to the centralized cost center (PR00262).

Can I be reimbursed for the purchase of used items from sites like kijiji or Facebook Marketplace?

Yes, you can if you submit appropriate backup with your expense claim including a screen shot of the posting, a picture of the item and proof of a monetary transaction (a line from an interac transfer, bank withdrawal). In order to comply with financial control requirements, backup documentation needs to be submitted.

How do I claim the $200 reimbursement?

All receipts will be submitted and will flow through our normal expense claim/Concur processes. The expenses will be approved by managers and will be charged to a central cost centre (PR00262). Information on expense claims can be found on the Travel, corporate card and expenses page here.

Two expense types have been created specifically for this purpose:

  • Home Office-Computer Equip: use this for computer accessories.
  • Home Office-not Computer Equip: use this for furniture and other noncomputer related equipment.