Part I - General information applicable to all priority types
- 1.1 Overview
- 1.2 Policy statement
- 1.3 Policy requirements
- 1.4 The Public Service Employment Act and the Public Service Employment Regulations
- 1.5 Priority types
- 1.6 Nature of entitlements
- 1.7 Roles and responsibilities
- 1.8 Priority registration
- 1.9 The priority clearance process
- 1.10 Priority clearance numbers
- 1.11 What to do when priority persons self-refer
- 1.12 Travel and relocation costs when considering or appointing priority persons
- 1.13 Making priority appointments
- 1.14 Resolving concerns and problems
- 1.15 Information for monitoring/managing priority administration
- 1.16 References
The Public Service Employment Act (PSEA) and Public Service Employment Regulations (PSER) govern appointments to positions in the public service. Among their provisions are exceptional clauses that provide an entitlement, for limited periods, for certain persons who meet specific conditions, to be appointed in priority to all others.
Priority entitlements help persons cope with career transitions due to various life and employment events such as Work Force Adjustment (WFA), becoming disabled, returning from extended leave and relocating with one's spouse or common-law partner. The entitlements also help the Employer retain skilled employees and meet its obligations in WFA.
1.2 Policy statement
Persons entitled to a priority for appointment pursuant to the PSEA or the PSER shall be appointed, in priority to all others, to positions for which they meet the essential qualifications.
1.3 Policy requirements
By virtue of their delegated staffing authority, deputy heads share the goals and values of the Public Service Commission (PSC) in respecting priority entitlements and ensuring appropriate consideration of the core and guiding values of the PSEA throughout all aspects of their staffing activities, including the fair and transparent consideration of priority persons.
In addition, deputy heads must respect the other policies within the Appointment Framework.
Deputy heads must:
- Respect any requirements and procedures implemented to administer priority entitlements;
- Ensure that persons entitled to a priority have access to continued employment opportunities;
- Assess priority persons in a timely manner and, if applicable, appoint priority persons before any other appointment process is initiated; and
- Appoint priorities from other organizations, as well as their own.
As indicated in the Guide to Implementing the Choice of an Appointment Process Policy, the PSC maintains the Priority Information Management System (PIMS) and deputy heads must search the priority persons' inventory through an automated on-line process that provides priority referrals. A priority clearance number is required before proceeding with an appointment process.
1.4 The Public Service Employment Act and the Public Service Employment Regulations
The start dates and duration of the various entitlements are set by the PSEA and PSER and cannot be altered by organizations or by the PSC.
There are a number of separate agencies that are subject to the PSEA. Employees of these agencies are entitled to priority entitlements. In the case of surplus and lay-off priority entitlements, refer to Part II, chapter 3, section 3.8 of this Guide for more details.
The separate agencies subject to the PSEA are:
- Office of the Correctional Investigator of Canada;
- Financial Consumer Agency of Canada;
- Indian Oil and Gas Canada;
- National Energy Board;
- Public Service Labour Relations Board; and
- Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions.
1.5 Priority types
The following lists and briefly describes the priority provisions of the PSEA and the PSER. Additional details about each priority type are provided in Part II of this Guide.
The priority entitlements within the PSEA are referred to as “statutory priorities”. Persons with a statutory priority are appointed ahead of all others, in the following order:
- An organization's own surplus employees who have been informed by their deputy head that their services are no longer required, but before any lay-off becomes effective (PSEA, section 40);
- Note: An employee who is surplus from another organization has a priority under PSER, section 5;
- Leave of absence: Employees on leave of absence, where their positions have been staffed indeterminately, or the employees who replaced them on an indeterminate basis if they are displaced when the employee returns from leave (PSEA, subsection 41(1)); and
- Lay-offs: Persons who have been laid off pursuant to subsection 64(1) of the PSEA, due to a lack of work, the discontinuance of a function or the transfer of work or a function outside the public service (PSEA, subsection 41(4)).
The priority entitlements within the PSER are referred to as “regulatory priorities”. Persons with a regulatory priority are appointed after persons with a statutory priority, but in no relative order.
- Surplus employees: Employees from other organizations who have been advised by their deputy head that their services are no longer required, but before any lay-off becomes effective (PSER, section 5);
- Note: Within their own organization, a surplus employee has a statutory priority under the PSEA, section 40.
- Employee who becomes disabled: Employees who become disabled and who, as a result of the disability, are no longer able to carry out the duties of their position (PSER, section 7);
- Canadian Forces (CF) or Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP): Certain members released or discharged for medical reasons (PSER, section 8);
- Relocation of spouse or common-law partner: Indeterminate employees who have been granted leave for such relocations, whose positions have not been staffed indeterminately (PSER, section 9);
- Reinstatement: Certain priority persons who were appointed or deployed to a position in the public service at a lower level (PSER, section 10); and
- Surviving Spouse or Common-law Partner: Surviving spouses or common-law partners of persons employed in the public service, the CF or the RCMP, whose death is attributable to the performance of duties.
1.6 Nature of entitlements
The entitlement to a priority is not "granted" at the discretion of either the PSC or other organizations in the public service. Persons who meet the conditions specified in the PSEA or the PSER automatically acquire a personal right that is guaranteed by law. Therefore, the entitlement is not dependent on the person being referred to an organization by the PSC.
Why consider a priority person?
Parliament has put in place priority entitlements to help people cope with changes to their lives and careers, such as workforce adjustment, becoming disabled, relocating with a spouse or common-law partner, being medically released from the CF or RCMP or the death of a spouse or common-law partner who was employed in the public service, the CF or the RCMP.
Appointing persons with priority entitlements assists the public service in retaining competent employees and provides hiring managers with a database of potentially qualified persons who can be appointed quickly and efficiently.
It is not just the law; it is a corporate responsibility that crosses all federal organizations subject to the PSEA and all managerial and Executive (EX) levels within those organizations.
In general, priority entitlements apply to any and all appointment processes. This means that:
- The entitlements apply across all regions and all organizations subject to the PSEA;
- There are no limits to the occupational groups and levels to which a priority person is entitled to be appointed, except in the case of the reinstatement priority. The reinstatement priority entitlement period is for one year and is for an indeterminate appointment to any position of a level that is not higher than the position the employee held immediately before they were appointed or deployed as a priority to the lower level position;
- Areas of selection in an appointment process do not apply to persons benefiting from a priority entitlement;
- Priority persons may self-refer for any job being staffed or about to be staffed and at any point in an appointment process prior to the issuance of the notification of appointment or proposed appointment, in which case their priority entitlement must be respected;
- Priority persons need only meet the essential qualifications referred to in PSEA 30(2)(a) and the conditions of employment of the position in order to be appointed. They are NOT required to meet any other merit criteria, such as asset qualifications, operational requirements or current or future organizational needs;
- Specified period (term) employees and casual workers are not eligible for priority entitlements, except for the surviving spouse or common-law partner priority entitlement;
- Priority appointments are not subject to recourse through the Public Service Staffing Tribunal. Specific appointment processes can be investigated by the PSC Investigations Directorate.
- Organizations must obtain priority clearance for all term appointments, no matter the duration, as well as for indeterminate appointments. For term positions, priority referrals are sent directly to organizations by PIMS without screening by PSC staff.
- Organizations must obtain priority clearance when staffing EX positions, in the same manner as for any other position.
Further to changes in the Employer's policy on deployment, employees with a salary that is equivalent to that of an EX position are now eligible for referral by the PSC to EX positions.
The following important changes are related to amendments to the PSER:
- Spouses or common-law partners of the following : persons employed in the public service, members of the regular, reserve or special forces of the CF and regular and reserve members of the RCMP, whose deaths are attributable to the performance of duties are entitled to a priority for appointment in external advertised appointment processes;
- The priority entitlement for persons who cease to be employed in an excluded position in the OGGS, has been repealed, effective September 23, 2010. A transitional provision provides that persons employed in the OGGS as of the date on which entitlement is repealed will continue to be given this entitlement when they cease to be so employed and fulfill one of the conditions of entitlement to the priority; and
- The priority entitlement period for employees who become disabled and for members of the CF or the RCMP who are discharged or released for medical reasons (s. 8(2)) begins on the day specified by a competent authority that the person is ready to return to work, if that day is within five years after the day on which they became disabled or were medically released or discharged.
Duration and conditions
Each priority type is for a limited period and is subject to certain conditions, as specified in the PSEA and PSER. These conditions are listed for each priority type in their respective chapters in Part II of this Guide.
The start dates and durations of the various entitlements are set by the PSEA and PSER and cannot be altered by organizations or by the PSC.
Order of appointment
Where more than one priority person is available and qualified for appointment, persons with a statutory priority are appointed ahead of all others, in the order shown in section 1.5 of this Guide. Persons with a regulatory priority are appointed after persons with a statutory priority, but in no relative order.
When staffing positions pursuant to organizationally approved employment equity (EE) programs, only the priority persons who are also members of the target or designated EE group(s) used for the process must be considered in priority to all other persons. Priority persons registered in the priority administration system have been coded as to their membership in EE groups if they have self-identified as such. Positions that are not staffed in accordance with an organizationally-approved EE program are subject to priority consideration of all priority persons.
Non-application of entitlements
Under Section 43 of the PSEA, if the Commission considers that the appointment of a person who has a right to be appointed in priority to other persons will result in another person having a priority right, the Commission may decide not to apply the priority entitlements in that case. For example, a manager may propose conducting an internal staffing process restricted to employees in a work unit that is affected by work force adjustment. The appointment of a priority person from outside the unit would result in the need to declare another employee surplus. In such situations, the PSC may require the organization to provide a copy of its WFA Plan to support the request. If the organization intends not to apply priority entitlements, it must clearly explain the situation to the PSC in detail when submitting its request for priority clearance.
NOTE: Surplus and lay-offs
In addition to priority rights under the PSEA and PSER, surplus and laid-off employees also have entitlements under the WFA Appendices (WFAAs) and related collective agreements. These entitlements include retraining in cases where they do not qualify for immediate appointment and salary protection if appointed to a lower level. For further information, consult the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat's (TBS) Web site. These agreements are the responsibility of the Employer. All questions concerning their application and interpretation should be directed to TBS.
1.7 Roles and responsibilities
The Public Service Commission
The PSC is responsible for administering and overseeing the provisions of the PSEA with respect to priority entitlements and monitoring staffing practices in relation to the legislative framework for priorities and the PSC's appointment values.
More specifically, the PSC:
- Sets and interprets priority administration policies and their application;
- Sets and maintains an administrative infrastructure (PIMS) to link priority persons with positions being staffed, consisting of a national inventory of priority persons, which organizations must use;
- Provides information and guidance to the human resources (HR) community and priority persons;
- Monitors the validity of individual's entitlements and their participation and organizational adherence to the entitlements in the making of appointments; and
- Monitors an organization’s adherence to priority administration policies.
By virtue of their delegated staffing authority, organizations share the goals and values of the PSC in respecting priority entitlements by ensuring appropriate consideration of the core and guiding values of the PSEA when considering priority persons, including ensuring access and the fair and transparent consideration of priority persons. Organizations are accountable to the PSC for their own administration of the entitlements.
- Ensure timely registration of their own priority persons in the PSC's priority inventory and maintain and update priority information regularly;
- Ensure that second language results are valid at the time of registration or schedule second language tests for priority persons whose results have expired; Note: Please refer to LHHR (12-09) for the temporary measure put in place for those affected by the workforce adjustment as a result of the Economic Action Plan 2012. You can also refer to the the PSC’s Guidance Series – Official Languages in the Appointment Process (184.108.40.206.4 Period of validity of SLE test results);
- Ensure that problems related to discipline, performance or incapacity have been resolved before persons become entitled to a priority or make such information known at the time of registration. When employees with significant performance issues are registered in PIMS, the PSC will only refer the employee to positions in their home organization;
- Counsel their own priorities about their entitlements, including the benefits and obligations of priority entitlements and the role the organization will play in supporting the employee’s career transition. An organization’s HR staff are the first point of contact for that organization’s priority persons in the event that questions arise regarding their entitlement;
- Provide career counseling, advice or training in job search preparation, including coaching on writing c.v.’s, covering letters, preparing for interviews and information about accommodation and technical aids available for employment assessment and on-the-job performance;
- Assist priority persons with marketability and placement by providing training or temporary work assignments to enhance their experience, knowledge or competencies;
- Search for, assess and appoint priority persons, as appropriate, and actively consider their own priority persons for employment opportunities prior to conducting appointment processes. This includes situations where the priority person self-refers to an appointment process or self-markets to potential hiring managers;
- Exercise due consideration of the circumstances of priority persons and ensure appropriate sensitivity on the part of hiring managers and HR staff when interacting with priority persons;
- Ensure that employer obligations are met, including those related to retraining, relocation costs and the duty to accommodate;
- Administer and interpret the TBS’s WFA Directive (WFAD) and related agreements concerning surplus and laid-off employees; and
- Respect the employer’s qualification standards and not set qualifications artificially high when requesting priority clearance. The Statement of Merit Criteria used for assessing candidates in an appointment process must be the same as that which was submitted when requesting priority clearance.
By virtue of their priority entitlement, priority persons must be considered for appointment before all others. While priority entitlements are meant to provide continuity of employment for the priority person, they should not be interpreted as a right to be appointed to the same type of position held previously, nor should such entitlements be interpreted as an opportunity for promotion.
Priority persons must:
- Sign a Privacy Consent Form before their home organization can register them in PIMS;
- Note: In order to be referred by the PSC, priority persons MUST have signed a Privacy Consent Form before they can be registered in PIMS. Consent to have information entered into PIMS is voluntary and priority persons may, without prejudice, request that their information not be entered into PIMS. They should however, be informed, that such action will make administering their priority entitlement difficult, as the PSC has no other automated means to match priority people to positions for which they may be qualified and does not have an effective means to make such matches manually. The onus would, therefore, be on the priority person to monitor vacancies and personally contact organizations if they consider themselves to be qualified.
- Provide accurate information about their geographic mobility, availability, interest in job type and tenure (indeterminate or specified term) and any other pertinent information;
- Inform the PSC and their home organization immediately of any updates to their information (c.v., contact information, availability for referral, job type and tenure, mobility, etc.);
- Contact their home organization and the PSC when the conditions for a priority entitlement have been met, particularly for employees who become disabled, members of the CF and the RCMP released or discharged for medical reasons who are certified as ready to return to work and the surviving spouse or common-law partner of an employee or member whose death is attributable to the performance of duties;
- Participate actively in the PSC's priority registration and referral processes by:
- Considering carefully the impact of any restrictions to their geographic mobility;
- Seriously considering all job referrals (the intent of priority entitlements is to provide continuity of employment, priority persons should not use their entitlement as a means to find the “ideal job” or to obtain a higher level position);
- Responding to referrals by the date specified by the organization
- Being readily available and prepared for assessments by organizations to whom they have been referred;
- Conduct independent job searches (particularly in the case of higher level positions to which the PSC does not normally make referrals). Independent job searches should include:
- Jobs posted internally within an organization or on Publiservice. As a minimum, organizations are required to use this site when advertising job postings interorganizationally;
- Externally advertised job postings on the PSC recruitment Web site at jobs.gc.ca;
- Jobs advertised in newspapers, magazines or specialized journals; and
- The use of personal contacts.
- Self-refer to organizations if they believe they meet the essential qualifications of a particular position.
Priority persons are encouraged to seek information on their assessments from the hiring manager. This assessment feedback can be helpful in understanding where potential gaps exist, assisting the priority person in preparing for subsequent assessments.
Priority persons who do not have access to job opportunities advertised on Publiservice may use the reader service, which is available by telephone at 1-800-461-6263 outside the National Capital Region (NCR), or (613) 941-8979 within the NCR, between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. EST. The number for persons using a TTY/TDD is 1-800-465-7735. Copies of the notices are available by fax upon request. Persons without Internet access may also review jobs open to the public through INFOTEL at 1-800-645-5605. The INFOTEL number for persons using a TTY/TDD is 1-800-532-9397.
1.8 Priority registration
All priority persons should be registered in PIMS, including those who will be appointed immediately or very soon after registration. Prior to registration, the priority person is required to sign a Privacy Consent Form in order for their organizations to register them in PIMS. Please refer to the note on Priority persons must, in the previous page.
The start dates and duration of the various entitlements are set by the PSEA and/or PSER and cannot be altered. The PSC will only begin marketing the priority person once they are registered in PIMS. Late registration will reduce the effective period of entitlement and may result in lost opportunities for the priority person. Please refer to the document entitled Validity Period of Priority Entitlements.
There are exceptions to registration – only the PSC registers persons entitled to the reinstatement priority, as well as the surviving spouse or common-law partner priority in instances where the death of the person employed in the public service occurred on or before May 12, 2010. Where death occurs after May 12, 2010, the organization registers persons entitled to this priority.
Some priority entitlements can run concurrently. In those cases, PIMS captures the one that is dominant (has the longest period and/or the most benefit). The other entitlement is noted and activated, if it is still relevant, after the other priority expires. For example, if the employee is entitled to a leave of absence priority as well as the priority for an employee who becomes disabled, then the leave of absence priority is captured and displayed, as this is a higher level of priority.
The Public Service Commission
- Verifies the validity and dates of each new registration received from organizations;
- Contacts registrants to confirm and explain the entitlement and related obligations and procedures;
- Completes the priority person's registration by confirming codes for job type/skill, mobility, availability, etc.;
- Verifies and incorporates organizational updates to priority persons' registrations; and
- Determines whether priority persons have refused offers of appointment without good and sufficient reason and removes entitlements, as appropriate, pursuant to the PSEA and PSER. This determination is distinct from the power of the deputy head, pursuant to the WFAAs and related agreements, to determine that an employee in the deputy head's organization, who was declared surplus with a guarantee of a reasonable job offer (RJO), has refused a RJO and will therefore be laid off.
Determining whether a person has refused an offer of appointment without good and sufficient reason applies to the following priority types:
- Employee who becomes disabled (PSER, section 7);
- CF or RCMP members released or discharged for medical reasons (PSER, section 8);
- Relocation of spouse or common-law partner (PSER, section 9);
- Reinstatement (PSER, section 10);
- Surplus employees not in their home organization (PSER, section 5); and
- Surviving spouses or common-law partners (PSER, section 8.1).
- Recognize when persons become entitled to a priority;
- Register their priority persons in PIMS as soon as they become entitled, ensuring that their registration is properly coded in accordance with the PIMS User Manual. Registrations may be made up to thirty days in advance, as long as the effective date is clearly indicated;
- Provide the PSC with specified supporting documents;
- Update registration information, as appropriate;
- Ensure that problems related to discipline, performance or incapacity have been resolved before persons become entitled to a priority or make these issues known to the PSC at the time of registration;
- Counsel the priority person about the benefits and obligations of priority entitlements and the role the organization will play in supporting career transition; and
- Provide career counseling, advice or training in job search preparation, including access to information about accommodation and technical aids available for employment assessment and on-the-job performance.
The start dates and durations of the various entitlements are set by the PSEA and PSER and cannot be altered by organizations or by the PSC. The PSC cannot “extend” priority periods to compensate for time missed due to late registrations; therefore, it is very important that priority persons be registered by the organization as soon as their entitlement begins.
1.9 The priority clearance process
Organizations initiate the clearance process by submitting a Request for Priority Clearance through PIMS.
1.9.1 When to obtain priority clearance
Priority entitlements apply to nearly all staffing actions that result in appointments.
- All indeterminate and all term appointments regardless of proposed appointment process (advertised/non-advertised, internal/external), including:
- Term appointments (regardless of length);
- Appointments to/from the Financial Officer Recruitment and Development Program, the Internal Audit Recruitment and Development Program and the Accelerated Economists Training Program;
- Post-Secondary Recruitment;
- Student bridging;
- Term to indeterminate, not resulting from PSEA section 59;
- Appointment of a priority person;
- Part-time employment (unless covered by the Part-time Work Exclusion Approval Order);
- Seasonal employment (initial appointment);
- Appointments from an advertised process for which priority clearance has not already been obtained (list or pool of pre-qualified candidates);
- Appointments resulting from an advertised anticipatory process for which priority clearance has not been granted;
- Apprenticeship/professional development programs (including organizationally-approved development programs) - priority clearance is required on appointment to the program and on appointment out of the program; and
- EE positions (appointment of a member of a designated group in accordance with an EE program for which staffing would be limited to that group). PIMS identifies priorities from the appropriate EE group(s) only.
Use of PSEA s. 43 - If the appointment of a person with a priority entitlement will result in another person having a priority right, the organization may appoint indeterminate employees from an internal appointment process without considering persons with priority entitlements. However, for monitoring purposes, priority clearance must be obtained through PIMS. Clearance will be granted automatically, but the PSC requires organizations to wait two working days after receiving an auto-clearance before making an appointment (refer to section 1.6 - Non-application of entitlements and section 1.9.3 - Referrals or auto-clearance by the PSC).
Staffing actions that do not require priority clearance:
- Anticipatory staffing where no appointment is imminent; priority clearance is required before an appointment is made;
- Special deployments for Executives;
- Federal Student Work Experience Program appointments;
- Acting appointments;
- Casual appointments;
- Conversion of term to indeterminate pursuant to PSEA section 59;
- Incumbent-based appointments, such as SE-RES and University Teaching groups (PSER section 2);
- Apprenticeship/professional development programs (including organization’s approved developmental programs) - priority clearance is not required for movement within the program;
- Alternations (defined in WFAD);
- Appointments made pursuant to the Public Service Rearrangement and Transfer of Duties Act;
- Extensions of term appointments;
- Extensions of acting appointments;
- Classification conversion exercises;
- Co-Operative/Internship programs assignments; and
- Appointment following revocation of an appointment
1.9.2 Initiating the clearance process
- Identify the need to staff;
- Set essential qualifications and relevant assessment methods;
- Ensure that the essential qualifications respect the employers Qualification Standards, reflect the range of duties to be performed and give fair access to priority persons (e.g., the qualifications must not be more stringent than what would be required in any subsequent appointment process); and
- Complete and send the appropriate on-line PIMS "Request for Priority Clearance and/or Recruitment" to the PSC, providing choice of appointment process, job specifications and qualifications. Instructions for completing the request form are found in the PIMS User's Manual.
1.9.3 Referrals or auto-clearance by the Public Service Commission
PIMS automatically searches the priority inventory, comparing priority persons with the job specifications in the clearance request, based on:
- Position location;
- Position tenure (indeterminate, specified term);
- Occupational group and level;
- Job type/skills;
- Official language proficiency; and
- Availability of the priority person.
If no priority persons are identified through this search, PIMS issues an automatic clearance to the organization.
The PSC requires organizations to wait two working days after receiving an auto-clearance before making an appointment. This is to give priority administration officers time to review the request to ensure that it was coded correctly. Any corrections made may result in the referral of priority persons.
If PIMS finds potential matches, one of two things takes place:
- If the position is INDETERMINATE, PIMS sends the names to a PSC priority administration officer for a secondary screening. The PSC officer will compare the job specifications in the request to the attributes of the identified priority person(s). If the PSC officer screens out all the identified priority persons, PIMS sends a priority clearance number to the organization. If priorities are being referred, PIMS sends an e-mail to the organization with the names of the potentially qualified priority persons to be assessed for the position. An automated e-mail is also sent to priority persons referred to inform them of the referral. The e-mail instructs priority persons to communicate with the hiring organization within the specific time frame stipulated by the organization (minimum of five days). Organizations must communicate and assess all priority persons who have indicated their interest in being considered for the position before all others.
- If the position is DETERMINATE (term), PIMS sends the names of identified priorities directly to the organization, without additional screening by PSC staff. In this situation, organizations may perform their own screening of the identified priority persons, based on information available from PIMS. A PSC priority administration officer will then monitor the screening performed by the organization to ensure the validity of the information provided before providing a clearance number.
1.9.4 Public Service Commission referral practices
The PSC refers priority persons for positions that are equivalent to, or one level lower than, the level of their substantive position. Priority persons are referred to lower-level positions at their request, in the interest of improving their chances of finding a position.
The PSC will not normally refer persons to higher-level positions. Priority persons seeking appointment to higher-level positions, including EX positions, are advised to conduct their own job searches. Priority persons who wish to be considered for such positions must inform the hiring organization of their interest, and that they have priority status. The hiring organization must respect the priority entitlement, keeping in mind that it applies to positions at any level for which the priority person meets the essential qualifications. Only in the case of a priority person requesting consideration for a higher-level position can a hiring organization opt to assess the priority person along with other candidates. These assessments must be conducted in a timely manner to ensure priority persons' entitlements are not jeopardized.
1.9.5 Assessment of priority persons
It is important to ensure that persons entitled to a priority are treated fairly and that the process and outcome are transparent. Priority persons must be given a reasonable opportunity to prepare for whatever interviews, exams or other assessment methods will be used, just as would be the case for candidates in any appointment process.
Hiring organizations must:
- Ensure appropriate consideration of the core and guiding values of the PSEA when contacting and assessing priority persons;
- Contact priority persons who responded, indicating how they meet the screening criteria and provide them with information on the position to be filled as well as the methods that will be used for the assessment. (Note: although there is a stipulated time frame for priority persons to respond to the referral (minimum of five days), priority persons who indicate their interest in being considered for the position subsequent to this time frame must still be considered if no appointment has been made);
- Respond to requests from persons with disabilities for accommodation in the assessment process, as in any other appointment process;
- Assess interested priority persons against the essential qualifications only (see the PSC Assessment Policy for further assessment guidance);
- Provide timely written feedback to priority persons, the PSC and the home organization about the assessment results, with clear and full explanation of the reasons for the outcome;
- For specified term appointments only, screen priority persons referred by the PSC, using information available through PIMS or from the priority person.
Priority persons referred by the PSC must normally be assessed PRIOR to other candidates. This is to ensure that the legislative requirement for priority persons to be appointed ahead of all others is maintained and to ensure fairness in their assessment by avoiding potential comparison with other candidates. The PSC expects the assessments and resulting feedback to priority persons to be conducted within 60 days of a referral and will be monitoring how long assessments take. Delays in assessments may result in the PSC cancelling a request and requiring that a new one be submitted.
1.9.6 Priority referral feedback
Organizations must report the assessment results, using the PIMS Priority Referral Feedback Form.
The PSC then determines whether priority clearance should be issued, either to appoint a priority person or to proceed with another staffing action. The Form, once completed by the hiring organization, will be sent simultaneously to the PSC, the priority person and the home organization for surplus priority persons or reinstatement priority (formerly surplus or lay-off). Additional information may be sought by any of these parties during or beyond the three day waiting period and any errors or omissions in the process must be corrected before a clearance number is issued.
The Form also keeps the priority inventory up-to-date, promotes accurate future referrals and can be used as a source of information in cases where the priority person is concerned about the assessment.
The Form must:
- Be in the priority person’s official language of choice for correspondence;
- Clearly indicate the details of the organization’s assessment of each referred person, in wording that will be shared with the priority person;
- Reveal fair assessment of all persons referred; and
- Provide reasonable grounds for finding that the priority person either does or does not meet the essential qualifications.
For indeterminate processes, there must be evidence that the priority person was assessed if they had responded that they felt they met the essential qualifications of the position. For specified term processes, the organization may screen the priority person in or out, based on information available in PIMS.
For monitoring and oversight purposes, organizations must retain the priority clearance number in their staffing files, along with other written information about the assessment process including the results and the feedback provided for each priority person considered.
As discussed in the section on Referrals or Auto-Clearance by the Public Service Commission, the PSC also monitors the auto-clearances that are provided by PIMS when no priority persons are identified for referral, to ensure that the search criteria are accurate in terms of the positions being staffed. If necessary, corrective action will be applied to any clearance resulting from a flawed priority search.
Managers should be careful not to mistake a "clearance" issued through their own organization's priority system for a PSC priority clearance.
1.10 Priority clearance numbers
Priority clearance numbers are issued when there are no priority persons to refer or when no priority persons who have been referred are found to meet the essential qualifications for appointment. If referrals have been made, the priority clearance number is issued only after the PSC has approved the hiring organization's Priority Referral Feedback Form.
Only one priority clearance number is issued for a request, regardless of the number of positions to be staffed. Clearance is valid for the number of positions mentioned in the initial clearance request. The PSC will not normally refer additional priority persons after a clearance number has been issued. However, the PSC reserves the right to establish a time limit for some or all priority clearances and/or to refer additional priority persons after a clearance has been issued, until an appointment is made to the position(s) in question. Appointments to positions that have received priority clearance should be made within a reasonable period of time from the date of the priority clearance number being issued. The PSC monitors appointment dates for multiple-position clearance requests and may refer additional priorities if it considers that an unreasonable length of time has elapsed between the granting of the clearance number and the appointments to the positions indicated in the initial request. This helps to ensure that all priority persons receive fair consideration. A new request is required for any appointments to additional positions that were not part of the initial request.
A new priority clearance number is required if:
- Additional appointments are to be made to other positions not covered by the initial clearance request;
- A cleared appointment process is unproductive (the clearance number cannot be used for a subsequent process for the same position);
- There is a change in the tenure of the position(s);
- The essential qualifications are amended in a way that might allow other priorities to be considered;
- The PSC determines that an unreasonable period of time has elapsed between the granting of priority clearance and the appointment to the cleared position; or
- The proposed appointment process is modified.
1.11 What to do when priority persons self-refer
Priority persons may directly contact managers who are planning to staff or are in the process of running an appointment process, after having received clearance to do so. In such cases, the first duty of the organization is to confirm the person's entitlement. This confirmation can be obtained through PIMS. Priority persons who self-refer must be treated as if they had been referred by the PSC, including their appointment ahead of all others, if found qualified.
If a priority person self-refers to a hiring organization, either before or after a priority clearance has been given, the organization is required to respect that person's priority entitlement, regardless of the level of the position. A self-referral carries the same weight as a referral by the PSC, but in the case of self-referral to a higher level position, the organization is permitted to assess the priority person along with the other candidates.
The PSC normally requires that priority persons referred to organizations as a result of a clearance request be assessed prior to the assessment of any other persons. However, because self-referrals often occur after an organization has started its staffing process, the PSC will allow self-referred priority persons seeking positions at levels higher than their substantive level to be assessed along with the rest of the candidates involved in the process, provided the organization does not jeopardize the priority person's entitlement's duration in so doing. For self-referrals to equivalent or lower-level positions, the priority person must be assessed before the other candidates to ensure fairness in their assessment and to avoid having them compared to the rest of the candidates.
1.12 Travel and relocation costs when considering or appointing priority persons
Travel and relocation costs are the responsibility of the Employer. All questions concerning their application and interpretation should be directed to TBS.
The responsibility for travel and relocation costs incurred while considering or appointing priority persons varies according to the situation. The following outlines responsibility for such costs when priority persons meet the eligibility requirements of the applicable TBS policies. Priority persons are encouraged to speak to their organization's HR staff for advice on eligibility for travel or relocation expenses.
- Surplus employees and laid-off persons: Under the WFAD and related agreements, the home organization pays the costs;
- Other priority types where the person is an employee: The hiring organization pays the costs in the case of the following priority types: Leave of absence; reinstatement; employees who have become disabled AND have NOT been released for cause as a result of their disability and employees relocating with their spouse or common-law partner;
- Other priority types where the person is not an employee: The responsibility for payment and the amounts are negotiated between the hiring organization and the priority person for the following priority types:
- Employees who have become disabled AND have been released for cause as a result of their disability;
- CF and RCMP members who were released or discharged for medical reasons; and
- Surviving spouses or common-law partners.
NOTE: For more information, review the applicable WFAAs and the directives on travel and relocation found on the TBS Web site.
1.13 Making priority appointments
Where a priority person is being appointed without having been referred by the PSC, for example where a priority person has self-referred, the hiring organization will add that person's name to an existing Priority Referral Feedback Form that has not yet been submitted. If there is no existing form, (e.g., if an auto-clearance had been provided or if the organization proposes to appoint one of its own priority persons), then the organization will complete a new request for priority clearance, using "to appoint a priority person" (Code I. (12) in PIMS) as the proposed appointment process.
To respect the priority entitlements under the PSEA and the PSER, as well as the order of priority appointments, PIMS will search for other priority persons on all clearance requests, including those using appointment process Code I. (12). This means that other priority persons may be identified by PIMS and the organization may receive additional referrals of priority persons.
1.14 Resolving concerns and problems
The hiring organization is required to provide a copy of the letter of offer, with all signatures, to the PSC within 14 calendar days of the date of appointment. This will allow the PSC to change the priority entitlement or remove the priority person from the system, as appropriate.
The hiring organization
The preamble of the PSEA states that the public service should be characterized by fair, transparent employment practices, respect for employees, effective dialogue and recourse aimed at resolving appointment issues. Priority persons should seek information concerning their assessment from the relevant manager in the hiring organization. In keeping with the spirit of the preamble, the PSC encourages managers to discuss their decisions fully with priority persons.
The Public Service Commission
If the discussions with the hiring organization do not resolve an issue, concerned priority persons may turn to the PSC for assistance on matters within the PSC's jurisdiction.
The PSC's Priority Administration Unit will intervene in cases where the priority consideration process is ongoing or an appointment has not yet been made. If necessary, the PSC can refuse or revoke a priority clearance, thereby preventing the organization from making an appointment.
The PSC's Investigations Branch will investigate complaints, as appropriate.
Work Force Adjustment issues
The WFAD and the WFAAs are the responsibility of TBS. For details and up-to-date text and interpretations, please consult the Work Force Adjustment section of the TBS Web site. These agreements are the responsibility of the Employer and all questions concerning their application and interpretation should be directed to TBS.
1.15 Information for monitoring/managing priority administration
Organizations are responsible for monitoring and managing their own administration of priority entitlements.
Priority persons referred by the PSC must normally be assessed PRIOR to other candidates. This is to ensure fairness in their assessment and to avoid having them compared to the rest of the candidates. The PSC expects assessments of priority people to be conducted within 60 days of a referral and will be monitoring how long assessments take. Delays in assessments may result in the PSC cancelling a request and requiring a new one to be submitted.
For monitoring and oversight purposes, organizations must retain the priority clearance number on their staffing files, along with other written information about the assessment process and the results for each priority person considered. Organizations should be careful not to mistake a “clearance” issued through their own organization’s priority system for a PSC priority clearance.
As discussed in the section on referrals or auto-clearance by the Public Service Commission the PSC also monitors the auto-clearances that are provided by PIMS when no priority persons are identified for referral to ensure that the search criteria are accurate in terms of the positions being staffed. If necessary, corrective action will be applied to any appointment resulting from a flawed priority search.
The PSC reserves the right to establish a time limit for some or all priority clearances and/or to refer additional priority persons after a clearance has been issued, until an appointment is made to the position(s) in question. Any such time limit may vary in accordance with regional priority administration activity levels, occupational group staffing volumes, WFA activities by organization or region or any other aspect, as determined by the PSC.
Appointments to positions that have received priority clearance should be made within a reasonable period of time from the date of the priority clearance number being issued. The PSC monitors appointment dates for multiple-position clearance requests and may refer additional priorities if it considers that an unreasonable length of time has elapsed between the granting of the clearance number and the appointments to the positions indicated in the initial request. This helps to ensure that all priority persons receive fair consideration.
In addition to information collected within each organization, information is available from the following sources:
- The Report Facility in PIMS (available to organizational HR staff only); and
- The PSC's Statistical Information site, that provides statistical analyses of public service hiring and staffing activities, for organizations that staff under the PSEA (available to federal employees).
- Public Service Employment Act
- Public Service Employment Regulations
- Priority Information Management System’s User Manual
- PSC Guides and Tools, including the guides: Assessing Merit, Choice of Appointment Process and Implementing the Assessment Policy
- Appointment Process: Suggested Activities at the Different Decision Points
- Work Force Adjustment section of the TBS Web site
- Directive on Career Transition for Executives
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