Rescinded [2012-11-19] - Directive on the Staffing of Bilingual Positions
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April 1, 2004
Bilingual positions are staffed imperatively. In exceptional cases, as specified in this directive, non‑imperative staffing may be considered. The Public Service Official Languages Exclusion Approval Order (the Exclusion Order) establishes the conditions for non‑imperative staffing of positions designated as bilingual.
This directive applies to all institutions subject to the Public Service Employment Act.
Institutions subject to the Official Languages Act (OLA), except for the Senate, the House of Commons, the Library of Parliament, the Office of the Senate Ethics Officer and the Office of the Ethics Commissioner, must refer to the Policy on Official Languages for Human Resources Management.
Deputy heads are accountable for implementing this directive in their institutions.
Bilingual positions are staffed imperatively.
Obligations concerning members of the Executive Group
Bilingual proficiency at the "CBC" level or higher is necessary if executives are to carry out their duties and fulfil their obligation to create a work environment that is conducive to the effective use of both official languages in regions designated as bilingual for language-of-work purposes.
To this end, imperative staffing is required as follows:
- throughout Canada, for all positions or functions at the assistant deputy minister level, and other assistant deputy head titles;
- in regions designated as bilingual for language-of-work purposes, for all other positions or functions at EX 05 to EX 02 levels;
- in unilingual regions, for all positions or functions at levels EX-05 to EX‑02 that include supervision of employees who are located in a bilingual region and occupy bilingual positions or positions with varying language requirements.
Implementation of imperative staffing will follow the timetable below:
- for EX 03 level, April 1, 2005
- for EX 02 level, April 1, 2007
This obligation does not apply to positions that are open to the public. Such positions may be staffed either imperatively or non-imperatively.
Obligations concerning other positions
In order to fulfil the obligations of institutions regarding service to the public and language of work, imperative staffing is required:
- when a bilingual position is for a specified period (term);
- when a bilingual position requires technical or specialized language skills;
- when the position or function is indispensable for providing services to the public or employees in both official languages.
This obligation does not apply to indeterminate positions that are open to the public. Such positions may be staffed either imperatively or non-imperatively.
Use of non-imperative staffing
As an exception, managers may use non-imperative staffing to fill positions that are not covered by the obligation to use imperative staffing. The institution will then provide language training, in order to allow the incumbent to meet the language requirements of the position.
When non-imperative staffing is proposed, managers must provide a justification in writing and be able to show that the bilingual functions of a position that has been filled non-imperatively will be carried out while the incumbent is taking language training and until he or she meets the language requirements of the position. In cases where an incumbent is exempted from meeting the language requirements of a position, the manager must show that the bilingual functions of the position are still being performed.
For executive positions, the use of non-imperative staffing must be approved by the deputy head; for other positions, it must be approved by the assistant deputy minister (other assistant deputy head titles).
When a position is staffed non-imperatively, whether by appointment or deployment, the candidate makes a written commitment to:
- acquire the required language skills within the prescribed timeframe;
- in the case of failure to meet the language requirements, agree to be appointed or deployed to another position for which he or she is qualified and meets the language requirements within two months of the end of the exclusion period.
The conditions for non-imperative appointments are established in the Public Service Official Languages Exclusion Approval Order in effect at the time of the appointment. These rules apply, with the necessary changes, to deployments.
When an employee or executive is appointed or deployed on a non-imperative basis, the language requirements of the position must be met within the prescribed time limit even if, within that period of time, he or she is deployed on a non-imperative basis to another bilingual position.
In the case of appointments, unless that authority is delegated to deputy heads, the Public Service Commission (PSC) approves any extensions to the exclusion period to accommodate persons with disabilities or learning disabilities or for other reasons recognized by the PSC. In the case of deployments, the deputy head exercises that authority.
Employees or executives must also meet the language requirements of their positions within the time limit prescribed by the Exclusion Order following an increase in the language requirements of the position or identification of the position as bilingual.
Monitoring and reporting
The Public Service Human Resources Management Agency of Canada (PSHRMAC) is responsible for determining the method for assessing performance and monitoring implementation of this directive in institutions.
Each institution is responsible for keeping its records and information systems up to date and assessing results in order to report on them to PSHRMAC on request. At a minimum, the institution uses the following indicators to assess its situation:
- number of positions staffed on an imperative and on a non-imperative basis:
- other positions
- other positions;
- percentage of employees who meet the language requirements of their positions;
- time elapsed between the appointment and the start of language training, when a candidate is appointed to a position on a non-imperative basis;
- effectiveness of administrative measures taken to ensure that the bilingual functions of a position are being carried out if the incumbent is not bilingual.
When assessment of the results reveals that the directive has not been respected, the institution reports the situation to PSHRMAC and takes appropriate corrective action.
In the case of appointments, the PSC is responsible for monitoring the use made of the Exclusion Order in institutions to which it applies. In the case of non-imperative deployments, the PSHRMAC is responsible for monitoring compliance.
For more information, please contact the person responsible for official languages in your institution.
Definitions and Notes for the Reader
- Staffing procedure for a bilingual position where only applicants who meet all the position's requirements are considered.
- Non-imperative staffing
- Staffing procedure for a bilingual position allowing the consideration of applicants who meet all essential requirements except for the requisite language skills.
- Public Service Official Languages Exclusion Approval Order
- Public Service Employment Act
- Official Languages Act
- Policy on official languages for human resources management
- Deputy Heads
- This term is equivalent to "deputy minister", "chief executive officer" or some other title denoting this level of responsibility.
- Regions designated as bilingual for language-of-work purposes
- Other assistant deputy head titles
- Technical or specialized language skills:
- Language skills acquired through specialized training or expertise, e.g., text editing, translation or language instruction
An office required to provide services in both official languages to the public or to employees must be able to provide them in both languages at all times. Managers are responsible for organizing their human resources, including staffing positions, in order to ensure this capacity. In determining the particular mix of positions or functions as well as other means of providing services (e.g. recorded messages, automated services, information on electronic networks), they are required to staff certain bilingual positions imperatively. This applies when the positions are linguistically indispensable because the provision of services depends on direct spoken or written communication by persons and the quality or availability of service in either of the official languages would be inadequate without this capacity. Imperative staffing should be used in the following circumstances (not an exhaustive list):
- when the bilingual position is one of the very few in an office that provides services to the public or employees;
- when the bilingual position is the only one that provides certain services;
- when the bilingual position is one of several providing similar services but there are not enough incumbents who meet language requirements to ensure service in both official languages at all times;
- when the functions of the position require the capacity to communicate promptly and accurately in both languages in situations where the communication has a direct bearing on the health, safety or security of the public or the occupants of the office (e.g. a position responsible for communicating instructions within the context of internal security services or for the management of emergency situations).
- Justification in writing
The obligations for the use of imperative staffing are covered in the first portion of this directive. When there is no obligation to use imperative staffing, non-imperative staffing can be used in exceptional cases. Justification for the case by case use of non-imperative staffing must be provided in writing. Here are some examples of justifications:
- when the potential applicant pool is very limited due to the highly specialized nature of the duties and the knowledge needed for a position and where imperative staffing might unduly limit applications for the position;
- when the institution would receive an insufficient number of applications from members of one or the other official language community, and non-imperative staffing is likely to promote participation of the under-represented community;
- Other assistant deputy head titles
- Public Service Official Languages Exclusion Approval Order:
- Deployed on a non-imperative basis to another bilingual position
The following situations may arise, depending on the language profile of the position to which the person is deployed:
- If the position to which the person is deployed (2nd position) has the same language profile as the position the person holds initially (1st position), the initial exemption period for meeting the position's language requirements still applies.
- If the 2nd position has a lower language profile, the incumbent no longer has to meet the requirements of the 1st position, but does have to meet the requirements of the 2nd position within the initial exemption period.
- Person responsible: