If you are an employee affected by workforce adjustment or an executive affected by career transition, or are interested in leaving the Public Service, alternation may be an option for you.

Alternation is a switch between one employee affected by the workforce adjustment or career transition situation who wishes to remain in the Public Service and another unaffected employee who wishes to leave.

The alternation provision facilitates the retention of employees who wish to remain in the Public Service.


Employees who are not given a guarantee of a reasonable job offer (also known as opting employees) and executives who have been notified that their position will become surplus are eligible for alternation.

The employee moving into the unaffected position must meet the Public Service Commission requirements for appointment to the position, including official language proficiency and applicable equivalencies for staffing or deployment purposes.

An alternation should normally occur between employees at the same group and level and must permanently eliminate a function or a position. In the case of employees in the Executive group, alternation must occur between executives at the same level.

It is not possible for employees of separate agencies to alternate with employees of the core public administration. Employees of separate agencies should consult their workforce adjustment policy for information as to how alternation might work in their organization.

Employee's Role in Alternation

For employees, the alternation process is limited to the employee's opting period (90 or 120 days, depending on the applicable collective agreement) and is not available once the employee has chosen one of the three options.

In the case of employees who are part of the Executive group, the decision to alternate must occur between the date on which the executive has been notified that his or her position will be declared surplus and the date on which the executive has to respond back to the organization on his or her choice of option. Organizations may also allow executives who chose option 2 (seek continued employment in the CPA) to alternate during the surplus period.

An alternation must occur on a given date and the two employees directly exchange positions on the same day.

Manager's Role in Alternation

Whether to allow a proposed alternation is a management decision. Managers decide whether a proposed alternation will result in retaining the skills required to meet the ongoing needs of the position and the core public administration. 

The deputy head has final approval of a proposed alternation.

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