Archived - Guide to Implementing the Notification Policy



Document Status:
Draft: Working version
Effective Date:
December 2005
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This Guide is provided by the Public Service Commission to help human resources advisors support deputy heads in developing organizational approaches.

Table of Contents

I. Introduction

This Guide has been designed to assist human resources advisors in understanding the expectations of the Public Service Commission (PSC) with regard to its policy on notification. It explains, in practical terms, the application of the values that are fundamental to the policy. This guide will also outline how the PSC expects the policy to be implemented.

II. Why a Policy?

The notification policy is key to upholding the guiding values of transparency and fairness. The policy gives effect to sections 48 and 49 of the Public Service Employment Act (PSEA) which require a notification process for internal appointment processes. Because notification is a requirement of law, the PSC policy provides direction for organizations on the implementation of the notification process in internal appointment processes.

Notification applies to both internal advertised and non-advertised processes. However, it does not apply to internal acting appointments. The Public Service Employment Regulations exclude acting appointments from the notification requirement in the PSEA. It is not separate from the appointment process, but an integral and mandatory part of the process. The notification process provides persons with an opportunity to know the decision of the manager, prior to it being finalized. An enforced waiting period ensures that there is an opportunity for informal discussion to take place, prior to a final appointment decision being made.

The notification policy provides clarification on the requirements set out in the legislation.

III. Policy Statement

The Policy Statement on notification requires that the notification of the names of persons being considered for appointment and the names of persons being proposed for appointment, or the names of those being appointed, is communicated in writing to all the persons entitled to notification.

Who has to be notified?

In the case of an advertised internal appointment process:

  • the persons in the area of selection determined under section 34 who participated in that process.

In the case of a non-advertised internal appointment process:

  • the persons in the area of selection determined under section 34.

When is the assessment complete?

The legislation states that the notification takes place after the assessment is complete. The intent is that notification take place after the assessment for each appointment is complete. This would include, not only the assessment of essential and asset qualifications, but also the assessment of all merit criteria that have been applied for that appointment.

What does "considered for appointment" mean?

"Considered for appointment" refers to the person (or persons) who, after the assessment is complete, is identified for a specific appointment. At this point, the decision is not final. A waiting period of a minimum of five calendar days must be respected before a person(s) is appointed or proposed for appointment.

You must inform persons to be notified of the name of the person being considered for each appointment. For example, in the case of a generic advertised process where the merit criteria are the same for all positions, the organization may use the notification of consideration to notify of all the names of persons they intend to appoint, even if there are no immediate vacancies. For instance, in conducting their human resources planning activities, an organization may have projected upcoming vacancies which would allow for the appointment of all those identified within a reasonable time period.

It is important to note that being named in the notification of consideration is not a guarantee of being appointed or proposed for appointment. During the waiting period, between the notification of consideration and the notification of appointment or proposed appointment, the manager could become aware of information that causes them to change their decision. Circumstances like budget cuts, priority referral or staffing freezes may prevent a manager from appointing the person who was considered for appointment.

How can notifications be made?

The authority was given to the Commission to determine the manner in which notifications will be made. The Commission has outlined in its Policy Statement that notifications must be in writing. This ensures consistent access to the information. However, notification can be made in a variety of written formats, including: e-mail, regular mail, letters, posters, etc. Any written format is acceptable, as long as it is accessible to those who require notification. For example, it is also acceptable to post a notification on a Web site or to use a common portal, like Publiservice. In fact, one notification could be used to notify of multiple appointments, as long as each person and the specifics of the position (e.g. location, linguistic profile, tenure, etc.) to which they will be appointed are clearly identified. In this scenario, persons would be advised at the outset of where notifications will be posted. The onus would then be on the person to check the notification themselves.

Notifications can also be sent by letter to persons in the area of selection in the official language(s) of their choice. However, if the notification is to be public (i.e. on a Web site or Intranet site), the same official language rules that govern advertising apply. In other words, all notifications by public means (Intranet, Web site) must be in both official languages except where:

  • the notification is to be made only in a region that is unilingual for language-of-work purposes and the work to be performed only requires the knowledge and use of the language of that region; and
  • the extranet site for employees of the Government of Canada at http://publiservice.gc.ca is not used to provide the notification.

When in doubt, the notification should be communicated in both official languages.

The notification must also respect the Treasury Board/PSC policy on the Duty to Accommodate Persons with Disabilities in the Federal Public Service. This policy requires the accommodation of persons with disabilities to the point of undue hardship. This ensures that employees with disabilities are provided with information in a timely fashion and in a usable format. Therefore, when calculating a period of notification, it is important to take accessibility into account and allow sufficient time for the notification of all persons in the process.

IV. Policy Requirements

The Policy Requirements outline a number of mandatory requirements which deputy heads must follow. They are:

  1. Establish a waiting period of at least five calendar days;
  2. Ensure that persons to be notified are informed of the duration of the waiting period;
  3. Ensure that the notification of appointment or proposal for appointment informs persons of:
    • the right to and the grounds upon which to make a complaint to the Public Service Staffing Tribunal (PSST); and
    • the manner and the time period within which a complaint may be made, as set out by the PSST.

1. Establish a waiting period of at least five calendar days

The establishment of a waiting period respects the legislation and the guiding values that underlie it. A waiting period gives persons and managers the opportunity to discuss and resolve issues before a final appointment decision is made and the right to recourse commences. As set out in the PSEA, no appointments or proposed appointment can be made during the waiting period.

A minimum of five calendar days is considered an adequate waiting period and does not unduly restrict managers from expediting the appointment process.

The Commission chose to use calendar days instead of working days because the definition of a working day is somewhat ambiguous. A calendar day, however, is a universal term. It is important to remember, that the five day period is the minimum requirement. A waiting period can be longer.

The length of the waiting period could vary for a number of reasons. A deputy head may decide to have different waiting periods for different types of processes or for different jobs. A deputy head may consider a number of factors in determining the waiting periods for different appointment processes, including: the area of selection, the geographic distribution of employees in the organization, work schedules, holiday periods, and access to computers and e-mail. The method of communication, for example, regular mail, could influence the waiting period. Consideration should be given in calculating the period to allow for delivery and sufficient time to notify all persons. A deputy head may allow managers to establish the duration of waiting periods for internal appointment processes, as long as the minimum period is respected.

When calculating a waiting period, the waiting period includes the day on which the notification is made. This respects subsection 27 (3) of the Interpretation Act which states: "Where a time is expressed to begin or end at, on or with a specified day, or to continue to or until a specified day, the time includes that day." Since the PSEA states under subsection 48 (2) that the Commission shall "fix a period, beginning when the persons are informed (…)", the day the notification is issued should be counted as "day one" of the waiting period of at least five calendar days. As an example, if a notification of consideration is issued on June 16, the calculation of time would commence on that same day. Thus, the minimum waiting period would end on June 20.

2. Ensure that persons to be notified are informed of the duration of the waiting period

The PSC policy requires that the persons to be notified are informed, in writing, of the duration of the waiting period. A best practice would be to inform candidates of the duration of the waiting period in the notification of consideration. However, if a deputy head wishes to establish a standard waiting period for all appointment processes, their organization could choose to include the length of the waiting period in advertisements for internal appointment processes, or in other communications products.

The requirement to notify persons of the duration of the waiting period promote transparency in the process. Clearly outlining the steps in the process ensures that persons are aware of the time period within which they can discuss the decision to eliminate them from consideration.

3. Ensure that the notification of appointment or proposal for appointment informs persons of:

  • the right to and the grounds upon which to make a complaint to the PSST; and
  • the manner and the time period within which a complaint may be made, as set out by the PSST

Everyone who is in the area of selection and participates in an advertised process and everyone who is in the area of selection for a non-advertised process will receive two notifications: first, the notification of consideration and, second, the notification of appointment or proposal of appointment.

The second notification must include the name(s) of the person(s) proposed or appointed and outline the right to go to PSST. It must also describe the manner and timeframe in which to make a complaint, along with the grounds for complaint, which include:

  • the abuse of authority in exercise of merit;
  • the abuse of authority in choosing between an advertised and non-advertised process; and
  • the failure to assess in the official language of choice.

The manner and timeframe in which to make a complaint are determined by the PSST. The notification of appointment or proposal for appointment reflects these requirements. Including this information in the second notification eliminates the need to send a separate notice about recourse.

The PSEA allows a person who was not previously considered for appointment to be appointed or proposed for appointment in the second notification. This gives managers the opportunity to change their decision during the waiting period, before a final decision is made. Should this situation arise, it is imperative to understand its impact.

Some questions to consider are:

  • What effect would changing the decision have on the person who was considered for appointment?
  • Does this action raise doubts about the fairness and transparency of the process?
  • Does this raise doubts as to the reliability of the assessment?

The PSEA also states that the notification of appointment or proposed appointment is a final decision. Therefore, if a manager changes his or her mind during the waiting period, there is no requirement to go back to the first notification of consideration. Nevertheless, in the interests of transparency and fairness, the manager should consider discussing the situation with the person originally considered for appointment before issuing the final notification.

V. References (PSEA)

Subsection 48(2) For the purposes of internal appointment processes, the Commission shall fix a period, beginning when the persons are informed - under subsection (1), during which appointments or proposals for appointment may not be made.

Subsection 48(3) Following the period referred to in subsection (2), the Commission may appoint a person or propose a person for appointment, whether or not that person is the one previously considered, and the Commission shall so inform the persons who were advised in subsection (1).

Section 49 The Commission's decision to appoint a person or to propose a person for appointment is final and is not subject to appeal or review except in accordance with this Act.

VI. Annex – Managing the Notification Process

The following are two examples of appointment processes and how to manage the notification process given the legislative requirements of subsection 48(1) of the PSEA:

After the assessment of candidates in an internal appointment process is completed, the Commission shall, in any manner that it determines, inform the following persons of the name of the person being considered for each appointment.

  1. in the case of an advertised internal appointment process, the persons in the area of selection determined under section 34 who participated in that process; and
  2. in the case of a non-advertised internal appointment process, the persons in the area of selection determined under section 34.

Example 1:

A non-advertised process with asset qualifications identified for the positions.

  • The manager considers five persons for generic positions. Three meet the essential qualifications and the asset qualifications. There are three positions to fill: one immediately and two in six months.

Option A

1. Notification of Consideration:

The first notification could include three names and identify the positions for which they are being considered.

Keep in mind - The persons named in the notification of consideration would not have access to informal discussion, as they would not be considered to be eliminated from the process.

2. Notification of Appointment or Proposed Appointment:

A notification of the name of the person being appointed and a notification of the two other names of persons being proposed for appointment.

OR

A notification of the name of the person being appointed and no other notifications at this point in time.

Closer to the imminent vacancies, the manager could notify of the name or the names of the person(s) to be appointed.

Option B

1. Notification of Consideration:

The first notification could include just one name of the person being considered for the vacant position.

Keep in mind - It may be preferable to wait until the other vacancies are imminent before notifying of the names of the persons being considered for the subsequent appointments. There could be a variety of reasons to wait, such as budget considerations and potential reorganization, to name just two.

2. Notification of Appointment or Proposed Appointment:

A notification of the name of the person being appointed to the vacant position.

Example 2:

Advertised process with asset qualifications and operational requirements identified.

  • Only 10 persons meet the essential qualifications.
  • There is one position to be filled immediately. The asset qualifications and operational requirements are not applied to this position.
  • Other appointments are expected but the actual number and specifics of the positions are unknown.

1. Notification of Consideration:

The first notification of consideration would include just one name.

Section 48(1) of the PSEA requires that after the assessment is complete, the Commission shall, in any manner that it determines, inform persons of the name of the person being considered for each appointment.

Since, at this point, there is only one position for which there will be an appointment; the notification can only include one name.

In order to notify candidates of the name of the person being considered, the assessment must have been completed and the person must have been within the area of selection and should have met any conditions of employment. In this appointment, only the essential qualifications are assessed, therefore the assessment is complete.

2. Notification of Appointment or Proposed Appointment:

This notification can only include the name of the person being appointed or proposed. In most cases, this would be the same name as on the notification of consideration. However, the PSEA allows a person to be appointed or proposed for appointment, whether or not that person was previously considered.

Note: The waiting period must have ended before the notification of appointment or proposed appointment can take place.

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