FAQs on Staffing Processes and Complaints
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FAQs on Staffing Processes and Complaints

These frequently asked questions are intended to provide members with some general guidance on staffing processes and complaints, and are not exhaustive. While every effort has been made to ensure the information is accurate and updated regularly, please consult the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board (Board) website to ensure your information on staffing complaints is current.

Q1. Why is an appointment process not advertised in my area?

The Public Service Commission (PSC) Appointment Policy and the Public Service Employment Act (PSEA) (s.29, 48 & 49) gives deputy heads broad discretion in determining appointment processes within their respective departments. Deputy heads must apply a national area of selection, with some exceptions. These exceptions include opportunities of six months or less, seasonal work, certain student appointments, and appointments where an exception is approved by the deputy head.

Q2. Are there requirements for an assessment boardīs composition?

No. There are no provisions in the PSEA that require a deputy head to establish an assessment board, or that a board have a certain composition. However, if an assessment board is not properly constituted, and is unable to make a fair decision as a result, then you may be able to show that there has been an abuse of authority in the selection process. This a question of fact which depends on the specific complaint. You would need to provide evidence to show that the selection process was unfair because of the composition of the assessment board.

Q3. Can I grieve a staffing decision or process?

No. Staffing is not covered under the AJC collective agreement. It is governed by the PSEA and the Public Service Staffing Complaints Regulations. Unsuccessful candidates in an internal advertised appointment process can file a complaint with the Board within 15 calendar days following the date on which you received notice (including public notice) of the appointment, proposed appointment or revocation, as the case may be.  

Q4. What staffing complaints does the Board handle?

The Board handles complaints involving:
• abuse of authority in applying the merit criteria
• abuse of authority in choosing between an advertised and a non-advertised appointment process
• omission in assessing the candidate in the official language of his or her choice.

“Abuse of authority” can include bad faith and personal favouritism. The Board also has the authority to interpret and enforce the Canadian Human Rights Act in dealing with any discriminatory aspects of an appointment. The burden of proof generally rests with the complainant.

Q5. What is considered abuse of authority in conducting an appointment process?

The PSEA gives managers with staffing authority broad discretion to establish necessary qualifications for the position they want to staff, as well as to choose and use assessment methods that will enable them to determine whether a person meets the essential qualifications. The methods must be reasonable, and assess the essential qualifications fairly - a simple error or omission is not considered an abuse of authority.  The onus would be on you to provide evidence that there was an abuse of authority in the appointment process.

Q6. Can bias in a selection process be considered an abuse of authority?

Yes. Members of boards assessing candidates in appointment processes have a duty to conduct their assessments fairly. Bias, including a reasonable apprehension of bias, can constitute an abuse of authority in assessment and appointment decisions made under the PSEA.

The test is whether a reasonably informed bystander could reasonably perceive bias on the part of one or more members of the assessment board. You would need prove that you were treated or assessed differently from other candidates in the assessment process, or that there was a reasonable apprehension of bias. Actions, comments and events that occurred before or during the appointment process could create a reasonable apprehension of bias.  

Q7. What types of staffing complaints can I file with the Board?

The PSEA provides the Board with the authority to consider, assist with resolving, hear and decide complaints involving:
• The deputy headīs decision to lay-off an employee.
The ground for complaint is that the manager abused his or her authority in selecting the complainant for lay-off. (s. 65 (1))
• The decision of a deputy head or the Public Service Commission to revoke an appointment.
The ground for complaint is that the revocation was unreasonable. (s. 74)
• Internal appointments.
The grounds for complaint are abuse of authority in the application of merit and/or in the choice of process (advertised or non-advertised) and denial of the right to be assessed in the official language of the personīs choice. (s. 77 (1))
• Failure of corrective action following a complaint against an internal appointment that was substantiated.
The ground for complaint is that the person was not appointed or proposed for appointment because of an abuse of authority in the implementation of the corrective action. (s. 83)

Q8. How do I make a staffing complaint?

You can consult the Procedural Guide for Staffing Complaints (Guide) for information on how to file a complaint with the Board. Complaints may be filed by individuals. Those seeking support from the AJC may refer to the Policy Governing Union Representation Services and fill out and return an incident form at admin@ajc-ajj.com .

The Procedural Guide includes contact information for filing a complaint. The deadline to file is 15 calendar days following the date on which you received notice (including public notice) of the appointment, proposed appointment or revocation, as the case may be.  

Staffing complaints can be sent to the Board by email or fax. They can also be delivered to the Board in person, by courier or by regular or registered mail. Where your notice of complaint is sent by email or fax, you must ensure that a copy with your signature (or your authorized representativeīs signature) is sent to the Board as soon as possible by mail, fax or email with a scanned attachment.

Q9. What information must be included in a staffing complaint?

You can use a complaint form to make your complaint. Using this form is not required, but you must file a complaint in writing, and it must include the following information:

• your name, telephone number and fax number, and a mailing address or email address that can be disclosed to all parties;
• the name, address, telephone number, fax number and email address of your authorized representative, if any;
• the number or identifier, if any, of the process to which the complaint relates;
• a copy of the notice of lay-off, revocation, appointment or proposed appointment to which the complaint relates;
• the name of the department or agency, branch or sector involved in the process to which the complaint relates;
• a reference to the provision of the PSEA under which the complaint is made;
• a full factual description of the events, circumstances or actions giving rise to the complaint (to the extent known by you). You should provide evidence to support your complaint;
• your signature or the signature of your authorized representative; and,
• the date of the complaint.

Complaints can be made in either official language. At the time of filing your complaint, you must also indicate whether you wish the proceedings and hearing be in English or in French.

Q10. How long do I have to file a complaint?

You must file a complaint within 15 calendar days following the date on which you received notice (including public notice) of the appointment, proposed appointment, or revocation. You can consult the Procedural Guide for Staffing Complaints for information on the Boardīs hours of business for staffing complaints, and how to calculate time periods.

Q11. Can I file a complaint for an external appointment with the Board?

No. The Public Service Commission has the authority to investigate external appointments, concerns related to possible political influence or fraud in a selection process or an internal appointment where appointment authority has not been delegated.

If the Commission is satisfied that the appointment was not made or proposed to be made on the basis of merit, or that there was an error, an omission or improper conduct that affected the selection of the person appointed or proposed for appointment, the Commission may revoke (or not make) the appointment, and take any corrective action that it considers appropriate.

Q12.  Can I file a complaint for an acting appointment?

Complaints cannot be made for an acting appointment of less than four months, unless it extends the cumulative period of acting appointments to four months or more. The Public Service Employment Regulations excludes these appointments from the provisions of the PSEA dealing with staffing complaints to Board.

Q13.  Can I withdraw a complaint?

Yes. You can with your complaint by filing a written notice of withdrawal with the Board. Your notice of withdrawal must include:

• your name, telephone number and fax number, and a mailing address or email address that can be disclosed to all parties;
• the name, address, telephone number, fax number and email address of your authorized representative, if any;
• the Boardīs file number for the complaint;
• a statement that you wish to withdraw the complaint;
• the name of the department or agency, branch or sector involved in the process to which the complaint relates;
• your signature or the signature of your authorized representative; and,
• the date of withdrawal.

If you have been represented during the complaint process, it is your responsibility to advise your representative, as soon as possible, that you wish to withdraw your complaint.

Q14. Can I appeal a staffing complaint decision?

Staffing complaint decisions of the Board are final and may not be appealed. They may however, be subject to judicial review by the Federal Court of Appeal on limited grounds. Applications for judicial review must be filed in accordance with the procedures and timeframes set out in the Federal Courts Act and the Federal Courts Rules. As a matter of general practice, the AJC does not usually apply for judicial review of staffing complaint decisions.

1. See Gaudreau v. Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, 2013 PSST 0023, available online (http://www.fpslreb-crtespf.gc.ca/decisions/summaries/2013-PSST-0023_e.asp ).


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