Spotlight on area of selection
Area of selection refers to the criteria that individuals must meet to be eligible in a federal public service appointment process. For internal appointment processes, it also establishes who is eligible to make a complaint. This guidance covers the requirements for an area of selection, shares information on the requirement for a national area of selection and answers common questions.
The Appointment Delegation and Accountability Instrument requires deputy heads to establish a policy on area of selection for internal processes.
Area of selection
Under section 34 of the Public Service Employment Act, an area of selection establishes who is eligible for an appointment process. It sets out the 4 criteria that can be used to establish the area of selection:
Geographic criteria refer to where candidates must reside or be employed to be eligible for an appointment process. If no geographic criterion is established, people who meet all the other criteria for area of selection would be eligible, no matter where they live or work.
- Persons residing within a 250 km radius of St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador.
- Employees occupying a position located within the National Capital Region.
Organizational criteria refer to the organization, or part of the organization, in which candidates must be employed. When used, the organizational criterion must accurately describe a structure that can be recognized as an organizational entity.
- Persons employed by Department A.
- Employees of the Human Resources Branch of Department X.
Occupational criteria refer to an occupational stream, program or group. They can be described generally, such as “health care services,” or be more explicit and identify a specific occupation or an occupational group or level (for example: FI, EC-3).
- Employees of Department Y substantively occupying a position at the EC‑4 or equivalent group and level.
Designated employment equity groups as a criterion refers to people belonging to one or more of the employment equity groups as defined in section 3 of the Employment Equity Act. The groups are women, persons with disabilities, Aboriginal peoples and members of visible minorities.
- Employees of the public service who are members of one of the following employment equity groups: persons with disabilities or members of visible minorities.
Eligibility for job opportunities in the federal public service
The Public Service Commission maintains a reference list that sets out:
- the difference between “employees” and “persons employed”
- whether employees or persons employed in a particular organization are eligible for internal appointment processes or deployments
- whether employees or persons employed in a particular organization have mobility or priority appointment rights in accordance with the Public Service Employment Act or with the Public Service Employment Regulations
National area of selection
The national area of selection is required for all appointment processes advertised to the public. This requirement is found in the Public Service Commission’s Appointment Policy.
The phrase “Persons residing in Canada, and Canadian citizens and permanent residents abroad” expresses the national area of selection required for advertised external appointment processes. This wording ensures that advertised external appointment processes are open to a broad population that reflects the intent of the requirement for a national area of selection.
Annex A of the Appointment Policy provides the exclusions and exceptions to the requirement for a national area of selection. These address employment equity objectives, short-term work and some specific student employment situations. Deputy heads also have the authority to approve exceptions to a national area of selection for advertised external appointment processes in their organizations.
As set out in the Appointment Delegation and Accountability Instrument, exceptions approved by deputy heads must be reported to the Public Service Commission annually.
Canadian Free Trade Agreement
The Canadian Free Trade Agreement is an interprovincial trade agreement to facilitate the movement of people, goods, investments and services within Canada. This agreement is important for staffing in the public service because article 704(1)(a) prohibits provincial or territorial residency requirements for eligibility in external appointment processes.
Questions and answers
1. Are there any parameters around deputy head approvals of exceptions to using a national area of selection?
The Public Service Commission has not set parameters for deputy heads exercising their discretion to approve exceptions to using a national area of selection for their organization. It is important to remember that national area of selection should be the norm and that exceptions are to be used for exceptional circumstances.
2. What is a sliding area of selection and how can it be used?
A sliding area of selection is an approach that can be used when the pool of potential candidates is uncertain. A job posting may indicate that a larger area of selection may be used if there is an insufficient number of candidates from the smaller area.
If, after the applications have been received, and before any qualifications are assessed, there is an insufficient number of candidates in the smaller area of selection, then the larger area of selection may be used.
Once you decide which area of selection will be used, you can begin assessing the qualifications of eligible candidates from within the determined area of selection. This area of selection must remain the same throughout the appointment process.
This decision must take place before assessing any qualification, including screening of education and experience. This ensures that the proper area of recourse is identified in internal processes, so candidates are eligible to make a complaint to the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board.
An example of a sliding area of selection:
- Who can apply: Open to persons employed in Department A in the National Capital Region. If there is an insufficient number of candidates, employees of the public service occupying a position in the National Capital Region may also be considered.
The concept of eligibility for an appointment process and the notion of assessment cannot be mixed when discussing area of selection.
If the decision is to use the smaller area of selection (which was made before assessment), only those candidates within the smaller area of selection would be assessed. Candidates in the broader area of selection would not be eligible for assessment, consideration for appointment nor have recourse rights when appointments are made or proposed from the smaller area of selection.
If no candidates from the smaller area of selection are found qualified, or if all qualified candidates have been appointed (or will be appointed), a decision could then be made to consider candidates from the broader area of selection. This would be treated as a distinct assessment process. Candidates in the broader area of selection would have recourse rights when appointments are made or proposed from the larger area of selection, which would also include those candidates from the smaller area of selection. Assessment results for the candidates in the smaller area of selection could be re-used.
Transparency is key when using a sliding area of selection. Clear communications on the intent of the sliding area of selection on the job opportunity and further communications at key decision points during the appointment process will ensure that candidates understand their eligibility and rights within the appointment process.
3. What are the implications of a hybrid workforce on an area of selection?
On any given day in a hybrid workforce, organizations will have employees working in a variety of locations, including a mixture of telework, working onsite at designated worksites, GCcoworking sites and shared collaboration spaces.
When determining an area of selection, there are many factors related to a hybrid workforce that should be considered, including:
- where work may be performed
- designated worksite locations of positions to be staffed
- where potential candidates reside or work
- organizational direction with respect to flexible work arrangements
The Policy on People Management and other instruments governing the employer-employee relationship are based on each position having a designated worksite, as determined by the employer, that is a physical location under the organization’s control. It is not a virtual or a residential address.
With flexible work arrangements, there may be situations where employees do not reside in the same location as their designated worksite. If the area of selection is established using a geographic criterion, then determining candidate eligibility will depend on the wording used in the area of selection.
An employee’s designated worksite is Ottawa. The employee has an approved telework agreement to work from their residence in Toronto.
Below are several scenarios using different areas of selection for consideration:
- Scenario 1: "Persons employed in Department A occupying a position in the National Capital Region“:
- The employee is eligible for the appointment process as the designated worksite of their position is Ottawa.
- Scenario 2: “Persons employed in Department A occupying a position in the Greater Toronto Area”:
- The employee is not eligible for the appointment process as the designated worksite of their position is Ottawa.
- Scenario 3: "Persons employed in Department A occupying a position or residing in the Greater Toronto Area “:
- The employee is eligible for the appointment process as they reside in the Greater Toronto Area.
To be eligible for an appointment process, a candidate must be in the area of selection. If no geographic criteria are specified, then individuals who meet all the other criteria are eligible, no matter where they live or work.
For more information related to a hybrid workforce, consult the Employer’s Guidance on optimizing a hybrid workforce. Questions related to organizational direction on flexible work arrangements should be addressed to the organization’s Workforce Management unit.
4. Is there advice on establishing areas of selection to address under-representation of people belonging to designated employment equity groups?
The Public Service Commission has developed guidance on staffing options that can help organizations achieve employment equity objectives. For more information, refer to:
5. How can we ensure areas of selection defined by regional organizational structures, such as Atlantic Region offices of Department X, respect mobility rights in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms?
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides citizens and permanent residents with a right to gain a livelihood in any province or territory. This right sets an expectation that an area of selection will not be established along provincial or territorial boundaries.
When a regional office is referenced in the area of selection, it may be unclear whether this refers to a geographic or organizational criterion. For example, “Atlantic Region” may refer to geographic criteria or to a component of the organization’s structure. In this case, it is useful to clarify that the criteria are organizational, for example, by referring to employees reporting to the organization’s Atlantic Regional Office.
6. What are the requirements of the Canadian Free Trade Agreement when establishing an area of selection?
As a signatory to the Canadian Free Trade Agreement, the Government of Canada is committed to reducing residency requirements for external job postings.
The Public Service Commission considered this requirement in establishing the national area of selection set out in the Appointment Policy, so no further action is required by organizations. However, the free trade agreement could be a consideration in any exceptions approved by a deputy head.
- Public Service Employment Act – section 34
- Reference list
- Appointment Framework
- Canadian Free Trade Agreement
- Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
- Guidance on optimizing a hybrid workforce: Spotlight on telework
Staffing support advisors at the Public Service Commission can provide guidance on what to consider when determining an area of selection.
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