Frequently Asked Questions
I think I have an opportunity for an Interchange Canada (IC) assignment. What should I know about these assignments? What is the first thing I should do?
Contact your departmental Interchange Canada representative (see the attached link)
How long can IC assignments last?
IC assignments can last up to three consecutive years, whether the assignment takes place with one or more organizations during that time period. In exceptional circumstances, assignments can be extended by up to a maximum of two additional consecutive years by the Deputy Head.
There is a minimum period of two years before a former participant may participate again on Interchange Canada. http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/pol/doc-eng.aspx?id=12553
What terms and conditions of employment apply to IC participants?
Participants continue to receive their salary and remain subject to the terms and conditions of employment of their home organization, including its performance pay program, if applicable. However, participants are subject to the working conditions of the host organization, such as working hours, and the filing / submission of leave requests and approval.
With what types of organizations can I arrange an Interchange assignment?
Interchange Canada is an exchange program between the core public administration and other organizations in private, public and not-for-profit sectors in Canada and internationally. By taking temporary assignments, employees develop professionally while organizations participating in the Program benefit from new knowledge, skills and approaches. Organizations may use the Program for job enrichment, talent management or skills-exchange. A sole proprietorship is not considered a corporation and therefore may not enter into an agreement under the Interchange Canada Program.
Participants cannot be in a conflict of interest as a result of the assignment in accordance with the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector, the Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment and organizational Codes of Conduct.
Participants must meet the required reliability checks and security clearances of the host organization. Employees of the core public administration cannot use Interchange Canada for assignments as ministerial staff.
How do I get paid while on IC?
Article 4.2 of Appendix 2 of the Directive on Interchange Canada states that the host organization refunds to the home organization the cost of the participant’s full salary, employer-paid benefit costs, overtime and, if applicable, performance pay. The home organization, in turn, pays the participant. Host organizations do not pay compensation directly to participants.
This includes pension contributions and medical and dental plans. Essentially, the participant should not notice any difference from being in their home department.
Who is responsible for the costs associated with IC assignments?
Participants continue to receive their salary and non-salary benefits from their home organization. Typically, the host organization reimburses the home organization for these costs; however, a different reimbursement agreement may be negotiated between the home and host organizations.
Other job-related costs such as training and travel are the responsibility of the host organization.
What should the Interchange agreement say? (i.e. is there any special wording?)
You can access template agreements here:
The agreement is signed between you, the Deputy Head of your home organization and the head of the host organization.
While not part of the TBS template, executives may want to suggest that they be provided with a means to keep connected to their home location during the assignment. APEX suggests the following wording:
- It is agreed that the sponsoring organization will provide continued access to its home organization’s IT network (e-mail, intranet, web applications including Phoenix Pay system, ETMS’s performance and talent management system), as well as a laptop and blackberry, for the duration of the Interchange Agreement.
Can I negotiate a different (better) salary with my host organization for the duration of my interchange assignment?
Article 4.9 of the Directive on Interchange Canada states that “while on assignment, outgoing participants remain at their substantive group and level and cannot receive additional compensation from the host organization, such as acting pay or a bonus”.
Can I take advantage of IC and then immediately after ask for leave without pay (LWOP) to continue the external opportunity?
The intent of IC is to have the executive enhance their knowledge, skills and abilities and bring these back to the department for the department’s benefit. It is a temporary assignment. The agreement specifically states that the participant will return to a position with their home organization.
While there is nothing in the directives / policies for either IC or LWOP that specifically exclude the possibility, it might not be in keeping with that spirit to permit the executive to leave again for an extended period of time. That said, the Deputy Head has the final say on all IC agreements. (article 12 of the Directive on Executive Compensation)
How does performance pay work while I am on Interchange Canada?
There is provision for an executive on an IC assignment to receive performance pay. See Appendix D of the Directive on the Performance Management Program (PMP) for Executives http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/pol/doc-eng.aspx?id=14226#secD.11
You may wish to discuss with both your home and host organizations to clarify how your performance will be measured while you are on Interchange.
Is there a responsibility for my home organization to keep my position open for me?
The IC agreement states the following:
“At the end of the Interchange assignment, (participant) will return to a position with (sponsoring organization) at a rate of remuneration of not less than (his/her) present salary plus any increases that may become due to (him/her) during the period of assignment according to the (sponsoring organization)’s salary system unless other arrangements have been agreed to by (participant) and (sponsoring organization).”
How do I file my leave while on an IC?
The executive on IC is entitled to take annual leave and sick leave during the period of assignment in accordance with terms and conditions of employment applicable to (him/her) in (his/her) host organization. Leave arrangements will be worked out in cooperation between Executive and the host supervisor in light of operational requirements and personal needs.
A report of any leave taken by the executive will be provided on a (monthly / quarterly) basis by host to the home or organization as agreed between the host and home organizations.
If the host organization has different hours of work than the public service (for example, a 30 hour work week, of four-7.5 hour days), how would it work for me?
The participant will be subject to the working conditions of the host organization. This includes working hours, overtime and leave requests, even if these three are components of the terms and conditions of employment for Executives.
A participant on Interchange to an organization where employees are required to work, for example, 35 hours a week, will have to adjust to this schedule. The reverse situation is also true. The participant might be going to an organization where the normal work week is 40 hours.
If the host organization has a different holiday schedule than the core public service (i.e. a provincial stat holiday, such as Family Day, or closes its doors over the time between Christmas and New Year’s) would the Executive been required to take annual leave to cover such absences from the workplace ? Likewise, if the host organization did not follow some of the holidays of the core public service (such as Remembrance Day or Easter Monday) would the executive be expected to show up for work on those days?
The executive would adopt the work schedule of the host organization, for better or worse.
How does a Career Transition Assignment work under IC?
For surplus executives not interested in pursuing further employment in the public service, departments may authorize a transition assignment to another employment sector under the Policy on Interchange Canada.
Prior to the commencement of the IC assignment, surplus executives must agree, in writing, to resign as of the layoff date of their core public administration employment and will be eligible only for their normal severance entitlement and pay out of unused accumulated vacation leave credits. They will not be eligible for any of the cash or non-cash elements that could be provided as part of a Career Transition Agreement.
Surplus executives laid off while on IC assignments are not eligible for priority consideration for reintegration into the core public administration.
Surplus executives laid off while on IC assignments may be eligible, at the deputy head’s discretion, for a lump sum payment for their performance during their last year of employment. Instructions regarding this can be found in the Directive on the Performance Management Program (PMP) for Executives.
How do I get an IC assignment with APEX?
The Association of Professional Executives of the Public Service of Canada (APEX) comprises a secretariat with a number of visiting executive (VE) positions, as well as permanent staff to support the administration of the office. VE’s are members of the executive cadre. Each VE usually leads one or more files within APEX that include: Organizing the annual APEX Symposium; planning and delivering activities in support of the health of Executives; Supporting and delivering services and activities to APEX Members; Supporting the CEO in Membership/Stakeholders engagement/Strategic Policy; Organizing the annual induction ceremony for new EX’s; Supporting Executives with the development of products related to the Terms and Conditions of Employment; Offering anonymous advisory services to executives, and Supporting APEX in the delivery of Communications.
APEX is a not-for-profit corporation governed by a volunteer Board of Directors of federal executives, including regional representatives, and supported by a CEO to whom Visiting Executives report. APEX is dedicated to providing executives with opportunities to network and develop a strong community of practice. As part of the mission, APEX also promotes executive health and wellbeing, and supports leadership excellence. As the voice of the federal executive community, the Association is a dynamic national organization whose advice on critical Public Service issues is valued and acted upon by key decision-makers.
VEs come to APEX through the Interchange Canada program, usually for 24 to 36 months. They must have the agreement of their Deputy Head to cover their full salary for the entire duration of their assignment at APEX.
These assignments can take place at any time during the career of an executive as the goal is that, by taking temporary assignments, employees develop professionally while organizations participating in the Program benefit from new knowledge, skills and approaches. Organizations may use the Program for job enrichment, talent management or skills exchange.
Opportunities for VE assignments are shared with members for their expression of interest as opportunities arise.
Do the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector and Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment, Appendix B apply to public servants working in the core public administration, who accept temporary assignments with any other sector under the Policy on Interchange Canada?
Yes, The Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector and the Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment form part of the conditions of employment for all public servants working in departments, agencies and other public institutions, for whom Treasury Board is the employer, and continues to be applicable to employees who are on an approved IC assignment.
The Policy on Interchange Canada confirms that an employee on an IC Assignment remains attached to their home organization in the federal public service and must return to their home organization at the end of the assignment, unless all parties agree to other arrangements.
It states that all terms and conditions, with the exception of the exclusion status associated with the position being vacated temporarily, will continue to apply. Also under the Policy on Interchange Canada the deputy head must be satisfied that conflict of interest, post-employment and security guidelines are adhered to.
Directive on Interchange Canada
Directive on Executive Compensation
Policy on Interchange Canada
FAQ’s on Interchange Canada
List of Departmental Interchange Canada Coordinators – EX Contacts
Information on Career Transition Assignments under Interchange Canada
Article 3.4 of the Directive on Interchange Canada states:
“The letter of agreement is signed by the parties and includes at a minimum:
a. A statement that the participant is an employee of the home organization, including a personal corporation, and will remain so throughout the assignment;
b. A statement that the participant will return to a position with the home organization at a rate of remuneration of not less than their present salary;
c. The start and the end date of the assignment;
d. The compensation amounts to be refunded;
e. A statement indicating how official language requirements will be met;
f. The information that the parties agree to make publicly available;
g. The approach to performance evaluation, where performance or variable pay is concerned (e.g., the Executive Group);
h. A statement concerning the participant’s obligations under the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector, the Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment, Part 7 (“Political Activities”) of the Public Service Employment Act and organizational Codes of Conduct; and
i. The following statement: “The (name of the home organization) will ultimately be responsible for any workers’ compensation-related costs, regardless of who was designated responsible by the applicable provincial or territorial workers’ compensation board”. “