Guide to allocating positions using the occupational group definitions

This Guide provides advice on allocating work in the Public Service to occupational groups using the occupational group definitions. It also provides background information on the nature of the occupational groups and their definitions.

Occupational groups

Occupational categories

Occupational categories were repealed by the Public Service Reform Act (PSRA) effective . The occupational category definitions were deleted from the job evaluation standards.

Occupational groups

Occupational groups are defined as a series of jobs or occupations related in broad terms by the nature of the functions performed. (Policy on Classification).

In the Public Service, occupational group definitions are approved by the Treasury Board of Canada. Occupational group allocation is based on the occupational group definitions including their inclusion and exclusion statements.

Changes to occupational groups

Pursuant to the provisions of the PSRA, the Treasury Board of Canada approved occupational group definitions on . These definitions were published in the Canada Gazette on . The new occupational group definitions reduced the number of occupational groups from 72 to 29. There are several aspects of these new occupational groups to note:

  • The 1999 occupational group definitions were developed to reflect the 1996 occupational group restructuring.
  • In drafting the occupational group definitions, the primary objective was to retain the existing bargaining agent affiliation of all represented employees. Consequently, positions remained in their occupational group as structured in 1996.
  • A complementary objective was to update the wording of the occupational group definitions to better reflect the realities of today’s work place and technology while maximizing the shelf life and the currency of the definitions. Consequently, jargon was removed and gender bias in the terminology (e.g. Instrument Repairman) was minimized.
  • Nine new occupational groups were created by amalgamating several former occupational groups; for example, the Program and Administrative Services (PA) Group is an amalgamation of AS, CR, CM, DA, IS, OE, PM, PM-MCO, ST, WP, and one component of the OM Group.
  • To a large extent, the new definitions of the occupational groups are a blend of the former definitions. The changes to the group definitions of did not require a review of occupational group allocation with the exception of positions in the OM Group. Positions in this group that have, as their primary purpose, responsibility for the provision of advice on and the analysis, development and design of forms and form systems are now allocated to the PA Group. All other positions in the former OM Group are allocated to the Human Resources Management (HM) Group.
  • The occupational sub-group definitions and the “Table of Concordance – Linkages between Occupational Groups, Occupational Sub-groups and Classification Standards” were published in the Canada Gazette on ; the effective date of the sub-group definitions is , which coincides with the effective date of the 1999 occupational group definitions. These occupational group and sub-group definitions supersede the definitions in the job evaluation standards and should be used to replace them. The Table of Concordance links the sub-group definitions to the 1999 occupational group definitions and the appropriate job evaluation standard.

Occupational groups & bargaining agent affiliation

An important objective in the development of the 1999 occupational group definitions was the maintenance of existing collective bargaining agent affiliation. As a result, bargaining agent representation was not affected by the changes to the occupational group structure.

It is important to note that the new occupational group definitions were not designed to address or fix existing occupational group allocation issues or problems.

Twenty-five of the 29 occupational groups are currently represented by bargaining agents. (Note: There are positions within the represented groups that are excluded from collective bargaining.)

There are four occupational groups that are either excluded from or not represented by bargaining agents. These are: the 1999 Executive (EX) Group, the 1999 Human Resources Management (HM) Group, the Law Management Group (LC) established in 2009 and the Police Operations Support Group (PO) established in 2014.

Occupational group definition names

In addition to the amalgamated groups, there have been some changes to the names of the groups that were not affected by the restructuring. These include:

  • the CS Group, which was changed from the Computer Systems Administration Group to the Computer Systems Group,
  • the FI Group, which was changed from the Financial Administration Group to the Financial Management Group.
  • the SR Group, which became three distinct groups:
    • Ship Repair Chargehands & Production Supervisors (SR(C)) Group
    • Ship Repair – East (SR(E)) Group, and
    • Ship Repair – West (SR(W)) Group.
  • the PR Group, which was changed from the Printing Operations Group to the Non-Supervisory Printing Services (PR(Non-S)) Group (Note: the supervisory component of the former Printing Operations (PR) Group is now included in the Operational Services (SV) Group).

Format of occupational group definitions

The format of the 1999 occupational group definitions has not changed from the previous occupational group definition format. Each occupational group definition comprises an overall definition statement as well as inclusion and exclusion statements. The definition statement describes in general terms the type of work allocated to the occupational group. Inclusion and exclusion statements provide examples of the types of work that are included in or excluded from the occupational group.

Inclusion statements must not be regarded as an exhaustive list of examples. Each inclusion statement must be read with the definition statement as a complete entity; it is not just a matter of seeking to match words in the inclusion statement with words in a work description.

Authority to allocate positions

Deputy Heads are authorized to make classification decisions in accordance with Treasury Board policy, the appropriate job evaluation standard, and guidelines.

Departments must allocate positions according to the intent of the occupational group and sub-group definitions and be aware of the impact of their decisions on interdepartmental relativity and on bargaining agent affiliation. Departments are required to consult with OCHRO on group allocation issues that may have a significant impact on interdepartmental relativity, have collective bargaining implications, or result in a significant increase of salary expenditures.

Classification process

Given the elimination of occupational categories, the classification process for a completed work description is the following:

  • Review and understand the work description and the organizational chart to understand the primary purpose of the work.
  • Allocate the position to an occupational group based on the occupational group definitions and the review of corresponding inclusion and exclusion statements.
  • Allocate the position to an occupational sub-group, where applicable, based on the sub-group definitions and the review of corresponding inclusion and exclusion statements.
  • Apply the corresponding job evaluation standard for that occupational group and sub-group, to determine the appropriate level of the position according to the evaluation plan of the standard and the application of the benchmarks.

Group allocation process

Identify the primary purpose of the work

The primary purpose of the work is determined through the review of the work description.

The information to support the determination of the primary purpose is usually found in the Client-Service Results statements and the Key Activities of the work description.

The Client-Service Results statements should provide the fundamental information in terms of identifying the clients and the products and services being delivered; the Key Activities should provide information on the activities that are undertaken to achieve the specified results. If the primary purpose is not clear after reading the Client Service Results and the Key Activities, it will be necessary to review the complete work description.

Other information related to organizational context that is useful for group allocation purposes can be found in legislation, departmental mandates, project plans, business plans, organizational charts, etc.

Examine the relevant group definitions

After determining the primary purpose of the work, review several occupational group definitions that may be relevant before coming to a preliminary conclusion.

Use the definition statement of the occupational group definition for this preliminary selection. Then consider the inclusion and exclusion statements. It is important to note, however, that all occupational group allocations should be made primarily with the definition statement in mind, and not just from an examination of the inclusion statements.

It is equally important that evaluators look at each inclusion statement and group definition as a complete entity, and not just match the words. The definitions and inclusions are to be viewed holistically, and not “cherry-picked” for specific terms or phrases that may match the words of the work description.

Relying on the above concepts, determine which occupational group definition best reflects the primary purpose of the work.

Where the position performs work that could be described by more than one occupational group definition, establish the best fit by identifying those aspects of the work that describe why the position was created and ensure that these are reflected in the definition of the group that has been tentatively chosen. Consultation with the position’s manager may be required to confirm its primary purpose.

The occupational group definitions presented in the Table of Concordance provide the group definitions and their corresponding inclusion and exclusion statements. The inclusions and exclusions explicitly link the relevant parts of the overall occupational group definition to each job evaluation standard. They should be inserted in the appropriate job evaluation standard to replace the original group definitions.

Check your preliminary group selection

Once again, review the inclusion statements for the group tentatively chosen to determine if the primary purpose of the work is reflected in the statements.

In some cases, one inclusion statement will apply; in others, several may apply. In some cases, there may not be an inclusion statement that applies, in which case, group allocation is made solely on the basis of the group definition.

When selecting an inclusion statement to support the group allocation, you must link it to the definition statement of the group definition. This is particularly important when the work of the position outlined in the work description meets the inclusion statements of different occupational groups.

It is important that the requirements of the work are reflected in both the occupational group definition and the inclusion statement(s). However, it should also be noted that the inclusion statements are not exhaustive.

If there are still areas of doubt, compare the position under review with other positions with similar work requirements. This will foster consistency in group allocation.

Benchmark positions contained within the job evaluation standards are also useful for comparative purposes to facilitate the allocation process.

Make your final allocation

As a final check to confirm that the most appropriate group has been selected, review the exclusion statements for the occupational group to ensure they do not reflect the primary purpose of the work. If so, the steps above will need to be repeated for another occupational group.

Remember to consider the requirements of the work, rather than the educational or skill attributes of the incumbent. Evaluate the work, not the person.

When group definitions, inclusion statements and exclusion statements have been thoroughly examined, make your final decision.


Understanding the distinctions between occupational groups

Occupational categories, which no longer exist, were defined as job families characterized by the nature of the functions performed and the extent of academic preparation required.

In the absence of occupational categories, it is important to remember that group allocation is based on the responsibilities and skills required by the work, and not the skills, abilities or education of the incumbent.

As an example, the application of a comprehensive scientific and professional knowledge is required by the Applied Science and Engineering (AP) Group definition. From a recruitment/appointment perspective, this refers to knowledge normally acquired through a university degree. From a work description perspective, it means that aspects of the work require the application of knowledge at the theoretical or conceptual level. By contrast, jobs in the Technical Services (TC) Group apply principles, methods and techniques.

Work descriptions need to differentiate the requirement for the application of practical technical knowledge from the application of comprehensive theoretical or conceptual knowledge.

Difficulty in determining the most appropriate group allocation

The quality of the work description is important. To facilitate the allocation of a position, the work description must clearly indicate the primary purpose of the work. Some positions perform work that can be found in more than one occupational group, for example, surveying work, work in a laboratory environment or financial work. Work descriptions for these types of positions must be written so that the primary purpose of the work is evident to ensure the appropriate group allocation.

Combinations of work

The same unique, generic or broad-based work description cannot be allocated to different occupational groups or evaluated with different job evaluation standards.

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