Guide to Implementing the Choice of Appointment Process Policy

Document Status:
Draft: Working version
Effective Date:
December 2005
Related Documents:


This Guide is provided by the Public Service Commission to help human resources advisors support deputy heads in developing organizational approaches.

  1. Introduction
  2. Why a Policy?
  3. Policy Statement
  4. Policy Requirements
  5. Other Requirements

I. Introduction

This Guide for Choice of Process has been designed to assist human resources advisors in understanding the expectations of the Public Service Commission (PSC) in the creation of this policy. It will serve to explain and put into practical terms, the application of the values that are fundamental to the policy. This guide will also outline how the PSC expects the policy to be implemented.

II. Why a Policy?

In addressing the human resources needs of an organization, there are a number of decisions a manager must make prior to deciding on what type of appointment process to follow. This policy strives to ensure that decisions on choice of process are made within a planned approach in order to meet the organization's needs. This policy also reinforces considerations which managers should be aware of. Since the consideration of priorities is an obligation set out in the Public Service Employment Act (PSEA) and Regulations, the policy clearly states that, in the choice of appointment process, deputy heads must first fulfill organizational and corporate responsibilities associated with the priority entitlements of individuals.

The policy provides maximum flexibility to deputy heads in the choice of appointment process. The policy requirements are kept to a minimum and reflect areas that the PSC has determined to be of risk to merit. The policy establishes strong links between the guiding values and the decision-making process and human resources (including employment equity) plan.

The policy addresses the fact that deputy heads will be accountable for their decisions. Monitoring and review mechanisms have been established as requirements for areas that are viewed as high risk. These mechanisms will ensure that systems are put in place to assist deputy heads to manage their human resources in accordance with the appointment framework.

III. Policy Statement

The Policy Statement outlines that, "The choice of advertised or non-advertised, and internal or external, appointment processes is consistent with the organization's human resources plan and the appointment values."

It also states that, "Priority entitlements are applied before another appointment process is decided upon."

Increased Flexibility

Although the PSEA offers increased flexibility in the choice between an advertised and a non-advertised appointment process, PSEA values will lead managers to consider the use of advertised appointment processes more often than non-advertised processes. The PSC expects to see advertised appointment processes as the standard practice. Although non-advertised appointment processes may be used when appropriate, PSC policy requires a rigorous demonstration of how the choice of a non-advertised process respects the values. PSC policy also requires that the choice of appointment process be consistent with the organization's human resources plan. The policy statement ensures that decisions on choice of process are made within a planned approach in order to meet the organization's needs.

Why is there a link between the choice of appointment process and human resources planning?

Human resources planning is key to the choice of an appointment process. Instead of conducting appointment processes to fill each vacancy as it arises, deputy heads are encouraged to incorporate their human resources plans, business plans, employment equity plans and organizational needs into the decision-making process. This will allow deputy heads to strategically manage their human resources to meet current and future needs of the organization.

There are a number of factors to take into account in choosing an appointment process. For example:

  • Current and future organizational needs and operational requirements, which could include:
    • new and evolving program initiatives that would require new skills in the organization;
    • providing developmental opportunities to existing staff;
    • enhancing the capacity of the work unit;
    • changing demographics, succession planning and organizational renewal;
    • developmental programs;
    • career aspirations of employees;
    • reciprocal agreements with different organizations for specific types of positions; and
    • broader needs of the public service;
  • The nature of the work to be done;
  • The ability to identify a sufficient pool of candidates;
  • The need to achieve a workforce that is representative of Canada's diversity and that is able to serve the public in the official language of their choice; and
  • The extent to which the decision to use an advertised or a non-advertised or internal versus external process might impact on issues, such as:
    • access to employment or developmental opportunities;
    • employee morale; and/or
    • perceptions related to fairness, transparency, arbitrariness, or personal favouritism.
Why is there a requirement to consider priority entitlements before another appointment process is decided upon?

Entitlements are clearly outlined in the PSEA for certain types of priorities, and additional priority entitlements have been established in the Public Service Employment Regulations. What this means is that the person with a priority is legally entitled to be appointed ahead of others. Priority entitlements have been created in order to assist employees in transition due to life events such as workforce adjustment, incurring a disability, relocating with one's spouse or common-law partner. Persons with a priority are qualified, skilled and experienced and they are a source to draw from for appointments.

Deputy heads share a collective commitment in placing priorities, including those from within their own organization and those from other organizations. Thus, before a process is decided upon, there is a requirement to consider priority persons who may be qualified and appoint them if they are found to meet the essential qualifications established for the position.

Why must the choice of process be consistent with the guiding values?

Any of the decisions made by a deputy head must be consistent with the guiding values. Simply put, a deputy head will be accountable for decisions that are made objectively and practices that reflect the just treatment of employees. The choice of appointment process has an impact on access. It is important to ensure that the choice provides a reasonable opportunity to apply and be considered for public service employment. As well, respecting the value of transparency ensures that information about decisions, policies and practices is communicated in an open and timely manner. Appointment processes are also conducted without bias and do not create systemic barriers to help achieve a public service that reflects the Canadian population it serves.

IV. Policy Requirements

The policy requirements help ensure that the choice of appointment process is based on sound planning principles and that decisions are made in a transparent manner.

The policy requirements state that deputy heads must:

1. Respect any requirements and procedures implemented to administer priority entitlements (e.g., mandatory use of an inventory).

As stated previously, the deputy head is required to respect the statutory and regulatory priority requirements, in that these persons must be considered before an appointment process is decided upon. As stated in the new PSEA, in order to be appointed, priorities only need to meet essential qualifications.

It is important to ensure that persons entitled to a priority have access to continued employment opportunities and are treated in a fair and transparent manner. The requirement to respect procedures for the administration of priority entitlements ensures that persons with a priority are considered for positions for which they are qualified.

The PSC will maintain the current priority administration system and will require deputy heads to submit their appointment process requests through an automated system. The system will provide priority referrals, and a clearance will be required in most cases before proceeding with an appointment process.

2. Establish a monitoring and review mechanism for the following appointment processes:

  • acting appointments over 12 months;
  • the appointment of casual workers to term or indeterminate status through non-advertised processes; and
  • appointments to the EX group through non-advertised processes.

Monitoring and review mechanism for acting appointments over 12 months. Why?

Acting appointments provide developmental opportunities; if prolonged, they can be perceived as conferring an advantage to the person if the position is staffed at a later date.

In establishing a monitoring and review mechanism, there is an expectation that deputy heads will manage long-term acting situations to prevent giving unfair advantage to those acting, and will ensure access to developmental opportunities through advertising or through rotational assignments, where feasible or practical.

Through monitoring and review, deputy heads will be able to ensure that:

  • acting appointments support a balance between providing temporary developmental opportunities and ensuring that all employees have fair access to subsequent promotional opportunities;
  • acting appointments will not be unduly prolonged; and
  • sound human resources planning will take place, including achieving employment equity objectives, allowing managers to anticipate and identify potential employees for developmental opportunities through acting appointments, based on employees' career interests and learning needs.

Monitoring and review mechanism for the appointment of casual workers to term or indeterminate status through non-advertised processes. Why?

Even with effective human resources planning, short-term requirements for unforeseen or urgent circumstances may lead to a decision to staff a position on a temporary basis through mechanisms such as casual, acting or term appointments. Casual workers are often hired to respond to urgent or short-term needs and may not be thoroughly assessed upon hiring, or other persons may not have been given the opportunity to apply. This can lead to concerns about appointment decisions that result from casual employment for a number of reasons. For example, when only one person is considered for employment as a casual worker through a non-advertised process, other persons do not have access to this employment opportunity. Consequently, if the manager appoints this person to a term or indeterminate position at a later date through a non-advertised process, it could raise concerns about fairness, transparency, access, representativeness and merit.

In establishing the monitoring and review mechanism, deputy heads will be expected to manage casual employment to ensure no roll-over through a non-advertised process without first considering whether the opportunity should be made available to others.

Monitoring and review mechanism for appointments to the EX group through non-advertised processes. Why?

EX appointments will be delegated to deputy heads (this is a new authority for deputy heads). EX appointments have always been considered open to particular risk because the EX group plays a strong role in leadership with greater accountability and responsibilities. The flexibilities in the new PSEA and policies and the new definition of merit, permit wide discretion in determining the merit criteria and their application. In light of this, monitoring of EX appointments that were made through non-advertised processes is of great importance.

3. Establish and communicate criteria for the use of non-advertised processes. Why?

Deputy heads will need to ensure that the choice of advertised and non-advertised processes is based on human resources plans. However, the choice to use a non-advertised process must be based on pre-established criteria set out by the deputy head. This will allow organizations to determine when they will use a non-advertised process, based on their human resources plans and business needs. This requirement obliges deputy heads to give thought ahead of time to the circumstances in which to use a non-advertised process, and to communicate these to employees in order to ensure transparency in staffing. Deputy heads should keep in mind that the use of non-advertised processes limits access to opportunities.

The communication of these criteria could be accomplished by various means. For example, deputy heads could post their criteria for non-advertised processes on the organization's Intranet or issue a notice. The key is to provide employees with the information so that they understand in what circumstances non-advertised processes may be used.

Some elements that could be considered in developing and implementing the criteria for non-advertised processes are:

  • a planning element, in order to clarify how the authority fits within the overall departmental human resources and recruitment strategies;
  • a consultation element, in order to ensure participation of bargaining agents and unrepresented employees;
  • a policy element, identifying the circumstances where appointments resulting from non-advertised processes can be made;
  • a communication element, clarifying how employees and their representatives will be informed of the use of non-advertised appointments (for example, on the notification of consideration to employees);
  • a monitoring element (quality assurance), to ensure proper documentation and rationale and allow for scrutiny of appointment processes; and
  • a reporting element, to ensure that the department can report to the PSC on the use of non-advertised processes, upon request.

4. Ensure that a written rationale demonstrates how a non-advertised process meets the established criteria and the appointment values.

The requirement for a written rationale ensures the manager's choice of a non-advertised process is well-documented, is consistent with the appointment values and meets the departmental criteria for using such a process. This will provide support for the decision made, and assist in explaining the decision to persons in informal discussion. One of the grounds for complaint to the Public Service Staffing Tribunal is abuse of authority in the choice of an advertised or non-advertised internal appointment process; therefore, a well documented decision will assist in supporting the decision. This requirement is also an element for which the deputy head will be accountable to the Commission. This requirement does not apply to acting appointments of less than four months except where the same person is appointed to the same position on an acting basis within 30 calendar days.

V. Other Requirements

  • The PSEA, which states that priority rights may not apply if the decision to make a priority appointment would result in another person having a priority entitlement.
    This is outlined in section 43 of the new PSEA. Its purpose is to allow deputy heads the flexibility to manage appointments within their organization. It permits deputy heads to not appoint a priority if this appointment would create another priority in their organization. This is particularly helpful when the deputy is aware that there are affected employees who will need to be re-deployed to other positions.
  • The Employment Equity Act, in terms of achieving and maintaining a representative organization.
    Choice of process decisions, as stated previously, should take into account any organizational needs with respect to achieving representativeness.