Part I - General Information Applicable to All Priority Types

Table of Contents

1.1 Overview

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 provide continuity of employment, help the Employer retain skilled employees and meet its obligations in WFA.

By virtue of their delegated staffing authority, deputy heads share the goals of the Public Service Commission (PSC) in respecting priority entitlements and the PSEA and PSER throughout all aspects of their staffing activities, including the fair and transparent consideration of priority persons. Please see the Priority Appointment Policy for more information.

Organizations relationship to the PSEA and priority entitlements

There are approximately 80 organizations that are subject to the PSEA for staffing purposes, including six separate agencies. Employees of these six agencies are entitled to priority entitlements. In the case of surplus and lay-off priority entitlements, please refer to chapters two and three in Part II of this Guide for more information on how these specific entitlements apply to the organizations listed below.

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.

1.2 Priority Types

The following lists and briefly describes the priority provisions of the PSEA and the PSER. Additional information about each priority type is provided in Part II of this Guide.

Statutory priorities

The priority entitlements within the PSEA are referred to as “statutory priorities”. Persons with a statutory priority entitlement 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 have not been laid off from the public service (PSEA, section 40);
    • Note: An employee who is surplus from another organization has a priority entitlement 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-off: Persons who have been laid off from the public service 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)).

Regulatory priorities

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 entitlement under the PSEA, section 40.
  • Employees who become 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 Armed Forces (CAF) 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 CAF or the RCMP, whose death is attributable to the performance of duties (PSER, section 8.1).

1.3 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 right that is guaranteed by law. The entitlement is, therefore, not dependent on the person being referred to an organization by the PSC.

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. Please refer to Part II of this guide and the specific chapters for further information specific to each priority entitlement.

Broad application

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 CAF or RCMP or the death of a spouse or common-law partner who was employed in the public service, the CAF or the RCMP, whose death is attributable to the performance of duties.

Appointing persons with priority entitlements assists the public service in retaining skilled and experienced employees and provides hiring managers with a pool of potentially qualified persons who can be appointed quickly and efficiently.

The obligation to consider priority persons before all others and to appoint them if qualified is a legal and corporate responsibility of all federal organizations subject to the PSEA and for all Managers and Executives within those organizations.

Application

In general, priority entitlements apply to any and all appointment processes, with certain exceptions to the requirement for priority clearance. 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 which allows 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 person 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
    • at any point in an internal appointment process prior to the issuance of the notification of appointment or proposed appointment; and
    • at any point in an external appointment process prior to the signed acceptance of the letter of offer by the proposed appointee;
  • In each of these circumstances, 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.
  • Priority appointments are not subject to recourse through the Public Service Staffing Tribunal.
  • Organizations must obtain priority clearance for all term appointments, no matter the duration, as well as for indeterminate appointments. For term positions, referrals of priority persons are sent directly to organizations without screening by PSC staff.
  • Organizations must obtain priority clearance when staffing EX positions, in the same manner as for any other position.
  • Spouses or common-law partners of the following: persons employed in the public service, members of the regular, reserve or special forces of the CAF and regular and reserve members of the RCMP, whose deaths are attributable to the performance of duties, are entitled to a priority for appointment only for advertised external appointment processes;

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 entitlement are appointed ahead of all others, in the order shown in section 1.2 of this Guide. Persons with a regulatory priority entitlement are appointed after persons with a statutory priority entitlement, but in no relative order.

Pursuant to paragraph 22(2)(b) of the PSEA, the PSC holds sole jurisdiction to determine the order of precedence (if any) or to decline to set an order of precedence for regulatory priority entitlements. The PSC has declined to set an order of precedence for regulatory entitlements. As a result, organizations cannot prescribe an order of precedence for regulatory priority entitlements.

Employment equity

When staffing positions pursuant to organizationally approved employment equity (EE) plans, a clearance request must be submitted through the PSC’s Priority Information Management System (PIMS) at the beginning of the appointment process indicating the targeted or designated EE group(s). Only priority persons who have self-declared as members of the target or designated EE group(s) will be referred to be considered in priority to all other persons.

Priority persons may self-declare as members of the designated EE groups through the Priority Portal, or by requesting this be coded to their registration information in PIMS by their HR Advisor. When it is not an EE targeted recruitment effort, and EE is only applied as an organizational need prior to appointment, all priority persons must be considered.

Non-application of entitlements

Section 43 of the PSEA provides the Commission with discretion for non-application of priority entitlements.

43. Notwithstanding sections 40 and 41 and any regulations made under paragraph 22(2)(a), if the Commission considers that the appointment of a person who has a right to be appointed in priority to other persons under any of those provisions will result in another person having a priority right, the Commission may decide not to apply that provision 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 WFA. The appointment of a priority person from outside the unit would result in the need to declare an employee surplus.

Although section 43 has been delegated to organizations, the PSC monitors its use. 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 and ensure that the appointment file is clearly documented. The PSC may require the organization to provide a copy of its WFA Plan to demonstrate that the affected position has been abolished as evidence.

Note: Surplus and lay-off

In addition to priority entitlements under the PSEA and PSER, surplus employees and persons who have been laid-off also have certain rights stemming from the WFAD and related appendices to collective agreements. These include retraining in cases where they do not qualify for immediate appointment and salary protection if appointed to a lower level. The PSC does not refer surplus or laid-off priority persons to positions where retraining would be required to become qualified for appointment. These priority persons should discuss any retraining issues with their organization’s Work Force Adjustment Coordinator and/or the responsible Human Resources Advisor or hiring manager.

For further information, consult the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat's (TBS) Web site. The WFAD, WFAA’s and collective agreements are the responsibility of the Employer. All questions concerning their application and interpretation should be directed to TBS.

The Directive on Priority Administration requires organizations to provide priority persons with support in accessing the Priority Portal and Publiservice and/or ensure that priority persons have access to all relevant information contained in these systems. Priority persons who do not have access to internal job opportunities advertised on Publiservice are encouraged to create a Career Watch account with an email address which they can access on a regular basis. Career Watch emails the latest job opportunities to users according to the criteria entered at the time of registration. If outside of the Government of Canada Extranet network, a PDF version of the job opportunity is provided by simply responding to the Career Watch email with the requested reference number and job title. For any questions, the Publiservice client support line can be reached by email at publiservice@cfp-psc.gc.ca or by phone toll free at 1-866-946-0046 (613-943-6175 in NCR), Mondays to Fridays from 8 AM to 5 PM (Eastern Time).

External job opportunities are fully accessible via the Internet on Jobs.gc.ca. 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/TDDs is 1-800-532-9397.

1.4 Priority Registration

The start dates and duration of the various entitlements are set by the PSEA and/or PSER and cannot be altered. The PSC cannot “extend” priority entitlement periods to compensate for time missed due to late registrations; therefore, it is very important that priority persons be registered/activated in PIMS by the organization as soon as their entitlement begins. Late registration will reduce the period of the priority entitlement and may result in lost employment opportunities for the priority person. The PSC will only begin referring priority persons once they are registered in PIMS.

All priority persons should be registered in PIMS, including those who will be appointed immediately or very soon after registration, unless the priority person does not want to sign the Privacy Consent Form (see section 1.4.1 below). A priority person who is unavailable for referrals to job opportunities at the time of registration or at any time throughout the duration of their priority entitlement must still be registered in PIMS. In such cases, the home organization is responsible for indicating that the individual is unavailable for referrals, the effective date of same as well as the date that they will become available for referrals.

There are exceptions to registration – only the PSC registers persons entitled to 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.

1.4.1 Privacy Consent Form

Prior to registration, the priority person is required to sign a Privacy Consent Form in order for their organization to initiate their registration 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.

If the priority person refuses to provide this consent, the organization must not initiate their registration in PIMS as inclusion of their personal information in PIMS without consent would contravene the requirements of the Privacy Act.

The organization must inform the priority person that registration in PIMS is the sole means used by the PSC to administer priority entitlements. The PSC has no other automated means to match priority persons 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 job advertisements and personally contact organizations (self-refer) if they consider themselves to be qualified. Any inquiries about a priority person who is not registered in PIMS will be re-directed to the priority person’s home organization.

1.4.2 The Manager’s Attestation Form

The priority person’s manager is required to sign a Manager's Attestation Form, an attestation that the home organization would be prepared to appoint the employee to a suitable position in that organization for which they meet the essential qualifications, if such a position were available. The responsible manager is not required to have sub-delegated appointment-related authorities to sign the Manager’s Attestation Form.

This form must be completed prior to initiating the registration of any priority person in PIMS, except for the Canadian Forces/RCMP Members Released or Discharged for Medical Reasons or the Surviving Spouse or Common-Law Partner priority entitlements. If the responsible manager does not want to sign the form, they should discuss this with their manager. It may be necessary to raise the issue within the organizations hierarchy for resolution. If the organization cannot resolve the issue in this manner, they should contact the PSC and discuss why the manager does not want to sign the form. The priority person cannot be registered in PIMS until a conversation has taken place with the PSC as to why the manager does not want to sign the form and a decision has been made by the PSC as to the impact on referrals.

A copy of the signed form must be placed on the employee’s personnel file and provided to the PSC upon request. If the responsible manager changes subsequent to registration of the priority person, it is not necessary to have a new attestation form signed by the new manager.

Issues of performance, capacity and discipline are the responsibility of the home organization and the Employer. Organizations may register priority persons in PIMS if there are existing issues of performance, capacity or discipline, provided that the nature of these issues would not preclude an appointment within their own organization. It is the responsibility of the home organization to notify the PSC of such issues at the time of the priority person’s registration in PIMS. If the performance, capacity or discipline issues are significant, the PSC may restrict the referrals of this priority person to the home organization. The priority person would retain the right to self-refer to positions in other organizations, as well as their home organization.

Where significant issues of performance, capacity and discipline are identified subsequent to registration of the priority person, the PSC may restrict referrals as indicated above, while the priority person would again retain the right to self-refer to other organizations, as well as their home organization. The PSC may also review the circumstances under which the registration occurred.

1.4.3 Dual Entitlements

Some priority entitlements can run concurrently. In those cases, PIMS captures the one that is dominant (has the longest entitlement period and/or the most benefit for the priority person). 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 entitlement as well as the employee who becomes disabled priority entitlement, then the leave of absence priority entitlement is captured and displayed, as this is a higher level of priority entitlement.

For further information regarding registration of the various entitlements, please refer to Part II of this guide. For specific information on the registration of priority persons in PIMS, please refer to the Priority Information Management System (PIMS) Support Centre and the Priority Portal User Manual

1.5 The Priority Clearance Process

The purpose of the priority clearance is to ensure that priority persons are considered for vacant positions in the public service. Organizations initiate the clearance process by submitting a Request for Priority Clearance and/or Recruitment through PIMS.

1.5.1 When to Obtain Priority Clearance

Priority entitlements apply to nearly all staffing actions that result in appointments.

Staffing actions that require priority clearance:

  • 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 Advanced Policy Analyst Program;
    • External appointments to the DS, SE-RES, UT or other such occupational groups that subsequently use an incumbent-based promotional appointment system;
    • Proposed appointments from post-secondary recruitment campaigns;
    • 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 priority persons 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 entitlement, the organization may appoint existing indeterminate employees from an 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 1.3 - Non-application of entitlements and section 1.5.3 - Referrals or auto-clearance by the PSC).

Staffing actions that do not require priority clearance:

  • Anticipatory staffing where no appointment is imminent; organizations shall consider priority persons and obtain priority clearanceFootnote 1 before an appointment is made;
  • Special deployments for Executives;
  • Federal Student Work Experience Program appointments;
  • Acting appointments;
  • Casual employment;
  • Conversion of term to indeterminate pursuant to PSEA section 59;
  • Incumbent-based appointments resulting from internal appointment processes, such as SE-RES and University Teaching groups (PSER sections 2 & 4(1)(a));
  • Reclassifications;
  • 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 resulting from the re-arrangement and transfer of duties in the federal public administration (Public Service Rearrangement and Transfer of Duties Act);
  • Deployments;
  • Extensions of term appointments;
  • Extensions of acting appointments;
  • Secondments/assignments;
  • Classification conversion exercises;
  • Co-Operative/Internship programs assignments; and
  • Appointment following revocation of an appointment

1.5.2 Initiating the Clearance Process

Hiring organizations:

  • Identify the need to staff;
  • Set essential qualifications, conditions of employment and relevant assessment methods;
  • Ensure that the essential qualifications respect the TBSQualification 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);
  • Ensure that the conditions of employment respect the TBS requirements; and
  • Complete and send the "Request for Priority Clearance and/or Recruitment" through PIMS to the PSC, providing job specifications and qualifications and indicating whether the organization is:
    • requesting referrals of priority persons; or
    • requesting clearance for the appointment of an existing priority person; or
    • requesting priority clearance for an appointment where the organization is invoking section 43 of the PSEA; or
    • requesting priority clearance for an appointment process, indicating the type of appointment process

When completing the PIMS request for Priority Clearance and/or Recruitment, the selected experience codes must be chosen in accordance with the essential experience qualifications contained in the Statement of Merit Criteria.  Instructions for completing the request form are found in the PIMS Support Centre.

1.5.3 Referrals or Auto-Clearance by the Public Service Commission

PIMS automatically conducts a search of registered priority persons, comparing them with the job requirements in the clearance request, based on:

  • Position location;
  • Position tenure (indeterminate, specified term);
  • Occupational group and level;
  • Experience codes;
  • Official language proficiency;
  • Certain conditions of employment; and
  • Availability of the priority person.

If no priority persons are identified through this search, PIMS issues an automatic clearance to the organization.

As per section 8.2.6 (v) of the Priority Administration Directive, the PSC requires organizations to wait two working days after receiving an auto-clearance before making an appointment, to ensure that no priority person was inadvertently missed for referral. This allows PSC priority administration advisors time to review the request to ensure that it was coded correctly by the organization or the PSC. 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 of priority persons to a PSC priority administration advisor for a secondary and more in-depth screening. The PSC advisor will compare the job requirements in the request with the identified priority person(s). If the PSC advisor screens out all the identified priority persons, PIMS sends a priority clearance number to the organization. If priority persons 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 time frame stipulated by the organization (minimum of five working days). Organizations must communicate with all priority persons who indicate their interest in being considered for the position. Organizations may assess interested priority persons based on the priority entitlement order of precedence.
  • If the position is determinate (term), PIMS sends the names of identified priority persons 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 advisor will then monitor the screening performed by the organization to ensure the validity of the information provided before providing a clearance number. Organizations must communicate with all priority persons who indicate their interest in being considered for the position. Organizations may assess interested priority persons based on the priority entitlement order of precedence.

For further information on processing term referrals from PIMS, please consult the PIMS Support Centre.

1.5.4 Public Service Commission Referral Practices

The PSC will not normally refer priority persons to positions that are at a higher level than that of their substantive position. The PSC will refer priority persons to positions that are equivalent to the level of their substantive position. At the priority persons’ request and with the approval of their home organization, the PSC will also refer priority persons to positions one level lower than the level of their substantive 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 a priority entitlement. 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.

The PSC may refer additional priority persons if an organization has not completed its appointment process and made appointments within a reasonable period of time or if there are newly registered potentially qualified priority persons in PIMS. Delays in appointment may result in the PSC cancelling a priority clearance request and requiring that a new one be submitted.

1.5.5 Assessment of Priority Persons

It is important to ensure that persons entitled to a priority for appointment are treated fairly and that the process and outcome are transparent. Priority persons must be given a reasonable opportunity to prepare for interviews, exams or other assessment methods that will be used, just as would be the case for candidates in any appointment process.

Hiring organizations must:

  • Ensure that they are being fair and transparent when contacting and assessing priority persons;
  • Contact interested priority persons 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 working 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 priority persons for accommodation in the assessment process, as in any other appointment process;
  • Assess interested priority persons against only the essential qualifications (see the PSC Assessment Policy for further assessment guidance);
  • Ensure qualified priority persons meet the Conditions of Employment before being appointed, in accordance with Treasury Board requirements;
  • Provide timely written feedback through PIMS 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. 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.

The PSC expects the assessments and resulting feedback to priority persons to be conducted within 60 calendar days of a referral and monitors how long assessments take. Delays in assessments may result in the PSC cancelling a request and requiring that a new one be submitted.

1.5.6 Priority Referral Feedback

Organizations must report the assessment results through PIMS, using the Priority Referral Feedback Form. The Form ensures that the assessment results are captured and maintained in PIMS for reference as necessary. The Form is sent directly and simultaneously to the priority person, the PSC and home organization of surplus and reinstatement priority persons (who previously had a surplus or lay-off priority entitlement). In the case of priority persons who self-refer to term or indeterminate positions, after the Form has already been submitted to the PSC, written assessment feedback is to be provided outside of PIMS via electronic mail to the priority person, the PSC and the home organization. Additional information may be sought by any of these parties during or beyond the three working days waiting period and any errors or omissions in the process must be corrected before a clearance number is issued. Refer to the PIMS Support Centre for further information.

The PSC reviews the assessment information provided by the organization and then determines whether priority clearance should be issued, either to appoint a priority person or to proceed with another staffing action.

The Form must:

  • Be in the priority person’s official language of choice for correspondence;
  • Clearly indicate the details of the organization’s assessment for each referred or self-referred priority person, in wording that will be shared with the priority person;
  • Reveal fair, transparent and timely assessment of priority persons; 
  • Explain why referred persons were not assessed (for example, if the organization appointed another priority person who had a higher level of priority entitlement); 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 appropriately evaluated against the screening criteria if they responded that they felt they met the essential education and/or experience 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 section 1.5.3 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, follow-up action may be taken on any clearance resulting from a flawed priority search.

1.6 Priority Clearance Numbers

Priority clearance numbers are issued when there are no priority persons to refer or no priority persons who have been referred are interested in the position 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. Organizations must ensure that priority clearance numbers are retained in the appointment file.

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 indicated in the initial clearance request.

The PSC will not normally refer additional priority persons after a clearance number has been issued. However, the PSC may 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.Footnote 2

Priority persons may self-refer at any time prior to an appointment. 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.

Managers should ensure they do not mistake a "clearance" issued through their own organization's priority system for a PSC priority clearance.

The PSC may refer additional priority persons 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 or if there are newly registered potentially qualified priority persons in PIMS. This helps to ensure that all priority persons receive fair consideration. Delays in making appointments after receiving priority clearance may result in the PSC cancelling a priority clearance request and requiring that a new one be submitted

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);
  • An auto-clearance has been cancelled by the PSC due to the use of incorrect search criteria or incorrect choice of appointment process;
  • There is a change in the tenure of the position(s);
  • The essential qualifications or any other mandatory PIMS screening criteria (occupational group and level, position location, official languages requirements, experience codes or conditions of employment) are amended in a way that might mean that other priority persons should be considered;
  • The PSC determines that the organization has, without sufficient explanation, taken longer than 60 days to assess priority persons and provide referral feedback to the PSC;
  • 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.

1.7 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 priority entitlement. This confirmation can be obtained through PIMS or from the home organization if the priority person elected not to be registered in 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 candidates in an appointment process.

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 candidates involved in an appointment 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 any candidates in an appointment process to ensure fairness in their assessment and to avoid having them compared to the candidates.

In the case of anticipatory processes, where the organization cannot make immediate appointments, it is important to determine when those appointments will be made and whether this will be prior to the expiration of the priority entitlement. If the priority person is qualified, but their entitlement will expire before the appointment date (this assumes that the organization knows what future date will be used for the appointment), a letter of offer can be provided (and signed by all parties) while the priority person’s entitlement is still effective but indicating the future date of appointment in the letter.

Priority persons are encouraged to apply on anticipatory processes and identify themselves as having a priority entitlement. In cases where the organization cannot make the appointment or provide a letter of offer with a future date of appointment before the end of their priority entitlement, the priority person would be treated as any other candidate in the appointment process once their priority entitlement period expires. Their eligibility as a candidate in an appointment process would be subject to the usual requirements, such as having applied to the process within the prescribed time limits and being within the area of selection established for that appointment process. For additional information please refer to the Appointment Policies.

1.8 Travel and Relocation Costs when Considering or Appointing Priority Persons

Travel and relocation costs are the responsibility of the Employer. The responsibility for travel and relocation costs incurred while considering or appointing priority persons varies according to the situation. Priority persons are encouraged to speak to their organization's HR staff for advice on eligibility for travel or relocation expenses. Organizations should direct their questions concerning travel and relocation to TBS.

Note: For more information, please refer to the WFAD, the WFA appendices of related collective agreements and the National Joint Council (NJC) Travel Directive and Relocation Directive.

1.9 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 to the PSC for approval and clearance. 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, selecting Option B "I would like to consider a specific priority person."

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 clearance requests for the appointment of an existing priority person. Priority persons with a higher level of priority entitlement (an entitlement that has a higher order of precedence) may be identified by PIMS and the PSC may refer additional priority persons.

The PSC prefers that priority persons be appointed, rather than deployed, since appointments require priority clearance. In this manner, PIMS is informed of the proposed appointment of the priority person. This ensures accurate data is captured in PIMS, resulting in effective management of the priority person’s file and accurate statistical data on Priority Administration. As an independent agency reporting to Parliament, the PSC is responsible for providing Parliamentarians and Canadians with accurate and timely information on matters related to the PSEA. PIMS is the system of record for the administration of priority persons and is the source of statistical data for organizations and the PSC. Accurate and timely input to PIMS is important in order for the PSC to fulfill its obligations to Parliamentarians and Canadians.

If an organization does deploy a priority person, they must inform the PSC, thereby ensuring that the priority person’s file is updated to indicate that their entitlement has ended as a result of the deployment.

If considering the deployment of a priority person, organizations should research any possible impact to a priority person’s salary protection, as outlined in portions of the WFAD and appendices to collective agreements. The WFAD is the responsibility of TBS. Any related questions should be directed to TBS.

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. In cases where a change to the priority entitlement or a removal is required, the hiring organization is required to initiate this action in PIMS and the PSC will validate. This will allow the organization to change the priority entitlement, or the PSC to remove the priority person from PIMS, as appropriate.

1.9.1 Refusal of an Appointment Offer

The PSC 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 WFAD and WFA appendices to collective 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:

1.10 Resolving Concerns and Problems

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 timely intervention 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

Priority appointments are not subject to recourse through the Public Service Staffing Tribunal. Any concerns/issues regarding a specific appointment could be reviewed by the PSC as appropriate. 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 Public Service Commission (PSC) oversees adherence to the roles and responsibilities stated in the Priority Administration Directive, and will encourage and actively work with organizations and priority persons to address any issues at an early stage.

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 an organization’s WFA Coordinator or TBS.

1.11 Information for Monitoring/Managing Priority Administration

Organizations are responsible for monitoring and managing their own administration of priority entitlements. This includes ensuring that they fulfill the roles and responsibilities described in the Priority Administration Directive.

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.

In monitoring their own administration of priority entitlements, organizations should also ensure:

  • Counselling of priority persons on all aspects of their priority entitlement, including the roles and responsibilities described in the Priority Administration Directive;
  • Statements of Merit Criteria provide fair access to priority persons and that the qualifications are no more stringent than what would be required in any subsequent appointment process
  • A new Request for Priority Clearance and/or Recruitment is submitted through PIMS if the Statement of Merit Criteria is changed subsequent to requesting priority clearance;
  • Priority persons are assessed prior to candidates in an appointment process to ensure fairness in their assessment and to avoid having them compared to the candidates;
  • Assessments of priority persons are conducted and referral feedback provided to priority persons and the PSC within 60 days of a referral.

Organizations are also required to fulfill and report on requirements outlined in the Staffing Management Accountability Framework through their Departmental Staffing Accountability Report.

In recognition of the increased number of persons with a priority for appointment in the public service as a result of workforce adjustment in Spending Review 2012, the PSC increased its expectations of departments and agencies for the effective management of priority entitlements. Organizations are expected to implement a governance structure, provide training on roles and responsibilities, provide support for priority persons, and a systematic approach to requesting clearance to staff a position.

In addition, departments and agencies were expected to monitor a number of areas including:

  • The time to register priority persons in PIMS;
  • The time to assess priority persons following their referral;
  • The number of appointments of priority persons relative to all of the organization’s indeterminate appointments; and,
  • The number and reasons for clearance requests cancelled following the referral of priority persons.

Departments and agencies are expected to take action as necessary on the results of the monitoring outlined above and on any of the planned actions to improve priority administration that they had previously committed to undertake.

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. As such, organizations must wait two days after clearance has been granted before making an appointment.

The PSC may establish a time limit for some or all priority clearances and/or 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.

As outlined in sections 1.5 and 1.6 of this Guide, 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 priority persons 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 or if there are newly registered potentially qualified priority persons in PIMS. This helps to ensure that all priority persons receive fair consideration.

In addition to information collected by organizations, information for monitoring purposes is available from the following sources:

  • The Reports section in PIMS (no PIMS password is required if using “Guest Entry” to access these reports); 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).

1.12 References

Footnotes

Footnote 1

Footnote 13 of the Directive on Priority Administration explains that the consideration of priority persons does not preclude organizations from initiating appointment processes to fill vacancies that are anticipated to occur at some point in the future (e.g., where human resources planning reveals that under a given set of conditions, appointments of priority persons will not be sufficient to meet the needs of the organization). Where an organization anticipates that, under a given set of conditions, priority appointments will meet any future needs, there is no need to initiate other types of appointment processes.

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Footnote 2

Priority Administration Directive, footnote #10 – For the purposes of this Directive, for internal appointment processes an appointment is deemed to be made when a Notification of Appointment or Proposed Appointment is published in Publiservice. For the purposes of this Directive, for external appointment processes an appointment is deemed to be made when the letter of offer is signed by the proposed appointee (includes signed conditional letters of offer).

Return to first footnote 2 referrer