Archived - Priority Appointment Policy


The PSC's Appointment Policy has been revised and will come into effect on April 1, 2016. Please consult the letter to Deputy Heads for information on changes to the current Appointment Policy and Delegation requirements which remain in effect until March 31st, 2016.

For assistance please contact your Staffing Support Advisor.

Policy Statement

Persons entitled to a priority for appointment pursuant to thePublic Service Employment Act (PSEA) or the Public Service Employment Regulations (PSER) shall be appointed, in priority to all others, to positions for which they meet the essential qualifications.

Policy Objective

To provide a single reference point for the legislative and policy requirements for priority appointments to ensure that deputy heads respect priority entitlements and make appointments of persons entitled to a priority for appointment in a manner that:

  • respects the PSEA, regulations and policy framework and helps organizations meet their business and human resources needs; and
  • fulfills organizational and corporate responsibilities associated with the priority entitlements of individuals.

Policy Requirements

In addition to being accountable for respecting the policy statement, deputy heads must:

  • respect any requirements and procedures implemented to administer priority entitlements;
  • ensure that persons entitled to a priority are considered for appointment to vacant positions;
  • assess the essential qualifications of priority persons in a timely manner;
  • appoint a priority person before any other appointment process is initiated unless appointing this person would result in another person having a priority entitlement;
  • appoint priority persons following the PSEA and PSER order of precedence; and
  • respect the requirements of the PSC's appointment policies, including the following requirements related to the consideration and appointment of priority persons:
    • As required by the Policy on Advertising in the Appointment Process
      • provide sufficient information regarding the criteria to be used in the screening of priority persons;
      • provide any other information necessary for priority persons to make an informed decision about whether or not they want to be considered; and
      • provide, upon request, further information including:
        • the essential qualifications, including official language proficiency, that must be met; and
        • the name of the person or organization to whom questions about the appointment process may be directed.
    • As required by the Policy on Assessment
      • inform the priority persons to be assessed, in a timely manner, of the assessment methods to be used in regards to the essential qualifications, of their right to accommodation and how to exercise that right; and
      • ensure that those responsible for assessment:
        • have the necessary competencies to ensure a fair and complete assessment of the priority person's qualifications;
        • are not in conflict of interest and are able to carry out their roles, responsibilities and duties in a fair and just manner;
        • obtain the PSC's approval before using tests of personality, intelligence, aptitude, or tests of like nature;
        • adhere to the guidelines set forth in the document entitled "Testing in the Public Service of Canada", published by the PSC, when developing and using standardized tests; and
        • assess qualifications for appointment to or within the EX group:
          • with a structured interview and a structured reference check; and
          • with any additional assessment tools necessary to provide clear evidence for appointment decisions (such as SELEX);


          • obtain approval from the PSC for exceptions to the EX assessment requirements on a case-by-case basis, except for acting EX appointments over four months; and
          • establish EX assessment boards comprised of members at, or equivalent to, a level above the position being staffed, as well as other parties as necessary for a comprehensive assessment. HR specialists may assist EX assessment boards in an advisory capacity.
    • As required by the Policy on Selection and Appointment
      • priority persons proposed for appointment or appointed:
        • meet all the essential qualifications, except official language proficiency when excluded in accordance with the PSOLEAO; and
        • complete and sign the Affirmation of Aboriginal Affiliation Form if they have self-declared as Aboriginal and the appointment is made in accordance with an employment equity program;
      • the reasons for the appointment decision have been documented;
      • the offer of appointment is extended by someone delegated to do so on behalf of the organization;
      • offers of appointment are in writing and clearly set out all the conditions of the appointment; and
      • appointments take effect only after all conditions of the appointment are satisfied.
    • As required by the Policy on Corrective Action and Revocation
      • before deciding to take corrective action or revoke an appointment:
        • ensure that priority persons whose appointments or proposed appointments are affected by the decision have been given an opportunity to be heard;
        • be satisfied that there has been an error, omission or improper conduct which affected the selection of the priority person appointed or proposed for appointment;
      • in circumstances involving revocation, inform the priority person in writing of:
        • the effective date of the revocation and the reasons for the decision;
        • whether or not the deputy head will appoint him or her to another position for which he or she is deemed to meet the essential qualifications; and
        • his or her right to file a complaint, and the time period within which to make a complaint to the Public Service Staffing Tribunal on the ground that the revocation was unreasonable; and
      • any time there is reason to believe that the appointment may have been subject to political influence or where fraud may have occurred, refer the matter to the PSC.
    • As required by PSC Appointment Policy regarding Employment Equity in the Appointment Process
      • accommodate the needs of persons through all stages of the appointment process to address, up to the point of undue hardship, disadvantages arising from prohibited grounds of discrimination;
      • use assessment tools and processes that are designed and implemented without bias and do not create systemic barriers to employment;
      • respect the following related legislation and policies:
        • the Employment Equity Act, in terms of achieving and maintaining a representative organization; and
        • the Treasury Board/Public Service Commission Policy on the Duty to Accommodate Persons with Disabilities in the Federal Public Service, which requires, for example, the provision of accessible formats and accommodation, upon request, for persons with disabilities.
    • As required by PSC Appointment Policy regarding Official Languages in the Appointment Process
      • communicate information concerning appointment processes in both official languages;
      • ensure that each person conducting the assessment of priority persons participating in an appointment process is sufficiently proficient in either or both official language(s) to enable effective communication with the priority persons to be assessed in the official language of their choice and to enable their qualifications to be properly assessed;
      • ensure that proficiency in the second official language, other than specialized or expert proficiency in one or both official language(s), is assessed by means of the Second Language Evaluation, or other assessment method approved by the Commission; 
      • conduct their own assessment of expert or specialized official language proficiency qualifications (identified by the P code in the linguistic profile of a bilingual positions);
      • use the PSC's Second Language Evaluation test or another instrument approved by the PSC to assess official language skills on a "meets/does-not-meet" basis;
        • PSC's Second Language Evaluation Oral Interaction Test must be evaluated by PSC-certified Second Language Evaluation Oral Interaction Assessors;
        • Second Language Evaluation Oral Interaction Tests evaluated by PSC-certified Second Language Evaluation Oral Interaction Assessors are deemed to have been conducted by the PSC;
      • apply the SLE test results confirmation provision between April 3, 2012 and March 31, 2015 (refer to Letter to Heads of HR 12-09) inclusively to surplus priority persons and persons entitled to a lay-off priority appointed to a bilingual position unless the person chooses to be tested;
      • respect the following related legislation and policies:
        • The PSEA which:
          • requires that official language proficiency in either or both official languages be established as an essential qualification for the work to be performed; this should be interpreted as meaning that official language proficiency cannot be established as an asset qualification, as an operational requirement or as an organizational need;
          • requires that an examination or interview for the purpose of assessing qualifications, other than language proficiency, must be conducted in the person's official language of choice. The assessment of language proficiency in English or French or both, or in a language other than English or French, must be conducted in the language or languages required for the work to be performed;
        • the Official Languages Act, which requires federal institutions to ensure that employment opportunities are open to both English-speaking and French-speaking Canadians, taking due account of the institution's obligations under Part IV, Communications With and Services to the Public, and Part V, Language of Work, of the said Act;
        • the Public Service Official Languages Appointment Regulations, which stipulate that deputy heads must appoint or deploy a person on an indeterminate basis to a similar position as the bilingual position for which he or she meets the essential qualifications, within a two-month period, when the person who, after undertaking to become bilingual, does not meet the official language proficiency requirements of the position within the time period outlined in the PSOLEAO; and
        • the Treasury Board Directive on the Staffing of Bilingual Positions, which stipulates that bilingual positions are staffed imperatively; in exceptional cases, as specified in the directive, non-imperative appointments may be considered.

Existing monitoring requirements applicable to priority appointments

  • monitor the use of the Public Service Official Languages Exclusion Approval Order (PSOLEAO) and ensure compliance with its provisions; and
  • establish a monitoring and review mechanism for corrective action and revocations with regards to appointment of priority persons.

Other Requirements

Deputy heads must also respect the following related legislation and policies:

  • the PSEA, which
    • states that priority rights may not apply if the decision to make a priority appointment would result in another person having a priority entitlement;
    • requires that a person being appointed from outside that part of the public service to which the Commission has exclusive authority to make appointments takes and subscribes the oath or solemn affirmation as set out in section 54 of the PSEA before the appointment takes effect; where the oath or solemn affirmation is required, the effective date of the appointment is the later of the date that is agreed to in writing by the deputy head and that person, and the date on which that person takes and subscribes the oath or solemn affirmation;
    • requires that when a person is being appointed from within that part of the public service to which the Commission has exclusive authority to make appointments, the effective date of the appointment is the date agreed to in writing by the person to be appointed and the deputy head, regardless of the date of their agreement; and
    • requires that a period of employment is indeterminate, unless a term of employment has been specified by the deputy head (e.g., term, casual or student employment or an acting appointment);
  • the Canadian Human Rights Act, which prohibits discriminatory practices on the basis of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability or conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted;
  • the Work Force Adjustment Directive, the Directive on Career Transition for Executives and other pertinent agreements or policies, which state that appointment of persons with priority entitlement, whether with or without retraining, shall normally be at a level equivalent to that previously held by the employee, but this does not preclude appointment to a lower level. Departments or organizations shall avoid appointment to a lower level except where all other avenues have been exhausted.
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