Ministers are not bound by employment equity legislation in the appointment of exempt staff. Nevertheless, the government has expressed its commitment to the principles and to following the spirit of employment equity. Even though the number of exempt staff is small, ministers may wish to ensure that there is a reasonable mix of men and women on their exempt staff, including individuals from designated groups (i.e. Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities, and persons in a visible minority group).
Members of a minister's exempt staff are appointed by the minister pursuant to section 128 of the Public Service Employment Act and are "exempt" from the appointing procedures of the Public Service of Canada.
The Public Service Employment Act (PSEA) identifies only one job title for ministers' exempt staff members, that of executive assistant. However, other job titles have been approved by the Treasury Board. The Exempt Staff Position Structure is available in Appendix A.
A minister or minister of state must respect the following conditions:
Salary maximums for exempt staff are equivalent to the Public Service. A minister or minister of state may only use the salary ranges identified in the table in 3.3.1. Salaries for exempt staff do not necessarily match those of the Public Service. Occupational classification identifiers serve as indicators only.
Subject to 3.2.1, ministers have the flexibility to configure the complement of exempt staff in their own offices. A minister may use the following positions in the minister's office:
The following exempt staff members are specific to ministers with regional representation budgets:
Ministers with regional representation budgets have the flexibility to configure their own regional exempt staff complement using existing approved salary ranges for exempt staff; however, they must observe rules regarding position titles and respective salary increments and ranges.
The work location of the regional exempt staff is the MRO, except for a region of ministerial responsibility served from the National Capital Region.
Ministers who have parliamentary secretaries within their portfolio are authorized to hire one exempt staff member dedicated to support each parliamentary secretary. The parliamentary secretary's assistant shall be hired following consultation with the parliamentary secretary. The salary range for the position is up to the maximum rate of pay for the AS-05 level.
A minister of state may employ exempt staff members in any of the following positions using the corresponding salary ranges:
These policies are intended to give each minister and minister of state the flexibility to configure the exempt staff complement, positions and titles to meet the demands of that minister or minister of state's portfolio. Subject to approved budgetary limits, and only in exceptional circumstances, ministers and ministers of state may require different exempt staff positions than those identified in this section. Each and every exception for an exempt staff position and salary range must first be discussed with and have the prior written concurrence of the Prime Minister's Office and written approval of the President of the Treasury Board.
The salary maximum for such positions cannot exceed the exempt staff salary range of an EX-04 in a minister's office, or of an exempt staff EX-01 or EX-02 in a minister of state's office, or in a minister's regional office.
A minister whose portfolio includes extremely complex or technical policy issues may increase the salary range for the director of policy to the exempt staff EX-03 or EX-04 level.
A minister's exempt staff employment ceases 30 calendar days after the minister ceases to be a minister of a given portfolio unless, within that 30‑day period:
If not reappointed as exempt staff within the 30-day period, all benefits cease (including maternity and parental leave). The former ministers' exempt staff may be eligible to apply for internal advertised appointment processes open to all employees of the Public Service of Canada, pursuant to section 35.2 of the Public Service Employment Act (see section 3.7.6 for more detailed information).
When a minister is appointed to a new portfolio, an exempt staff member accepting an exempt staff position with the minister in a new portfolio is accepting an appointment with a new employer, and as such, new letters of offer should be prepared and signed by the minister in their new capacity. This is also true of exempt staff who accept another exempt staff position with another minister. When an exempt staff accepts a new exempt staff position with a minister, the minister may, at his or her discretion, accept liabilities for severance pay, as applicable vacation leave entitlements and sick leave credits for the previous service as an exempt staff. The exempt staff must receive this approval in writing at the time of hiring.
If another minister employs an exempt staff member within the 30 calendar days:
The appointment, reappointment or continued appointment of a chief of staff or regional affairs director is subject to prior written agreement of the Prime Minister's Office.
In such cases:
Ministers are encouraged to make decisions as soon as possible within the 30 calendar days after their new appointment or their termination of office to retain or to release exempt staff members. If an exempt staff member is not hired until after the 30 calendar days:
When there is an election and Parliament is dissolved, or when Parliament is prorogued the appointments of parliamentary secretaries cease. Likewise, the purpose of the parliamentary secretary's assistant position ceases. At the discretion of the minister any person in the parliamentary secretary's assistant position can be terminated with termination benefits (such as severance and separation pay) or reassigned in the minister's office in another position funded from the minister's exempt staff budget(s). Policies governing transfer among minister's office budgets apply.
When contracting for professional or temporary help services, the additional requirements and obligations found under Part 7 of these Policies must also be met. Neither professional services contracts nor contracts for temporary help are employment contracts. No employer-employee relationship can be created when entering into such a contract (see section 7.2 for more information).
A minister has discretionary authority to use the services of any member of the exempt staff on public business outside the National Capital Region. The salary or fee for that person is chargeable to the minister's exempt staff budget.
As a general rule, at any one time no more than two exempt staff members shall travel with the minister on public business outside the National Capital Region. This limit shall not be exceeded without prior approval of the Prime Minister's Office.
Exempt staff members' names and the positions they hold are not considered as confidential and could be released under any access to information request.
For information on security issues for employees, please see section 2.2 of this document.
Salary maximums for exempt staff for the positions set out below are structured as follows (note: occupational classification codes identifiers are nominal only): there are no minimums and the maximums are equivalent to the current maximums of the Public Service groups and levels (EX, AS, IS and CR). Salary maximums for exempt staff automatically change according to approved changes in the equivalent Public Service groups and levels. That notwithstanding, the increases to exempt staff salary maximums are not economic increases and will not automatically result in salary increases for exempt staff. Salary increases are subject to section 188.8.131.52 and 3.3.2. Current salary information for the Public Service can be found at Rates of Pay (for excluded and unrepresented employees) and Rates of Pay for the Public Service of Canada..
|Title||Salary range equivalent to the current maximum of the Public Service level (no minimum)|
|Position (Minister's Office)|
|Chief of Staff||
|Director (e.g. Director of Policy, Director of Communications, Director of Issues Management, Director of Parliamentary Affairs)||EX-02|
|Senior Special Assistant||AS-07|
|Support Staff||up to AS-05|
|Minister's Private Secretary||AS-06|
|Position (Minister with regional representation budget)|
|Regional Affairs Director||EX-01|
|Regional Communications Advisor||IS-05|
|Regional Press Secretary||AS-07|
|Position (Minister with a Parliamentary Secretary)|
|Parliamentary Secretary's Assistant||AS-05|
|Position (Office of Minister of State)|
|Chief of Staff to the Minister of State||
|Director (e.g. Director of Policy, Director of Communications, Director of Issues Management, Director of Parliamentary Affairs||AS-08|
|Senior Special Assistant||AS-07|
|Minister of State's Private Secretary||AS-05|
|Support Staff||up to AS-05|
Subject to section 3.3.2, ministers may authorize exempt staff salary increases up to the permitted maximum. An exempt staff member should not be paid the maximum salary unless it can be fully justified by his or her experience and qualifications. There shall be no resulting salary increase when an exempt staff member is appointed to an exempt staff position at the same level in another minister's office.
As a general rule, the maximum salary range is reserved for employees
with a relevant professional qualification, 10 or more years' relevant prior
employment experience, or extraordinary skills
Where an employee has been actively recruited from a position outside the federal government, the salary of the position from which the employee has been recruited should be taken into account in fixing the place where the employee starts on the salary range.
The number of other employees directly reporting to the employee should be taken into account in fixing his or her position on the salary range.
In exceptional circumstances, a minister may, with the prior agreement of the Prime Minister's Office and approval by the Treasury Board, pay an exempt staff member a salary above the permitted maximum. The minister, the Prime Minister's Chief of Staff and the President of the Treasury Board should first discuss all requests for salaries above the permitted maximum.
Following consultation with the Prime Minister's Office, the Treasury Board may authorize other exceptions to these Policies in special circumstances. The minister should first discuss all such requests with the Prime Minister's Chief of Staff and the President of the Treasury Board.
Only a minister has the discretionary authority to award or withhold salary increases. Salary increases are awarded based on fully satisfactory performance.
Subject to the principles in section 184.108.40.206 and provided funds are available in the exempt staff budget, a minister may authorize salary increases as follows:
A minister may authorize acting pay when an exempt staff member temporarily performs the duties of a higher position. To qualify for acting pay, exempt staff members must continuously perform the temporary duties for a minimum of 10 consecutive working days.
The scheduled work week is usually 37 1/2 hours from Monday to Friday inclusively, and the scheduled work day is usually 7 1/2 hours.
Exempt staff is not eligible for overtime pay, however, an exempt staff member who works overtime extending beyond the normal meal period or who works at least three hours on a day of rest or on a designated holiday, may be reimbursed based on receipts for one or more meals (depending upon the number of meal periods occurring in the overtime period) in accordance with the amounts prescribed in the National Joint Council Travel Directive or with the meal rate negotiated for equivalent groups and levels under collective bargaining of the Program and Administrative Services (PA) Group. Rates for meals are updated regularly; consult departmental financial services for current rates.
When a staff member is required to return to work or to remain at work after normal and reasonable public transportation has ceased operating, the minister has the discretion to authorize a taxi or the kilometric allowance between the person's residence and the workplace, based on the province in which the vehicle is plated (as per the National Joint Council Travel Directive, Appendix B). Only the portion between work and home is reimbursed for contiguous after-hours work, and this is done only when reasonable public transportation is unavailable.
All information regarding the employment of exempt staff must be reported to the Prime Minister's Office. This would include information on exempt staff hires, salaries, salary increases, promotions, separation payments and terminations/departures. This shall be reported as soon as the change occurs.
This section summarizes the major non‑salary compensation provisions in the areas of pensions and insurance. More comprehensive information on these terms and conditions of employment, and help in administering them, is available from departmental human resources offices.
For the purposes of entitlements under the Public Service group insurance plans, Chief of Staff, Director, Regional Affairs Director, Press Secretary and Chief of Staff to the Minister of State are in accordance with the Executive (EX) Group, and Director to a Minister of State, Policy Advisor, Senior Special Assistant, Special Assistant, Parliamentary Secretary's Assistant, Regional Press Secretary, Regional Communications Advisor, Minister's Private Secretary, Support Staff and Driver are in accordance with the PA Group excluded from collective bargaining.
A minister's exempt staff participates in the following plans:
The following component of the Public Service Management Insurance Plan: additional supplementary life insurance equal to the adjusted annual salary.
Costs for leave with pay are charged to the minister's exempt staff budget. Leave for those exempt staff positions whose salary maximums are equivalent to the Public Service EX occupational group follows the terms and conditions of the Executive Group, which can be found in the Directive on Executive Compensation. These terms and conditions are amended from time to time. Any period of leave without pay under the Special Leave or Education Leave provision of the EX terms and conditions of employment in excess of three months will not be counted as service.
For all other exempt staff members whose salary maximums are equivalent to the Public Service PA occupational group, leave follows the collective agreement for that group and can be found at Program and Administrative services, as amended from time to time.
Determination of leave entitlements is in accordance with section 3.5 above, with the exception that service for the accumulation of vacation leave under this clause will include employment or service with the Public Service, as defined in the Public Service Superannuation Act if severance has not been issued upon termination of such employment. Vacation entitlements are as follows:
A minister may authorize an advance payment of the estimated net salary for vacations of two or more complete weeks if this is requested in writing at least six weeks before the last pay day before the vacation begins.
When exempt staff is recalled from vacation leave, they shall be reimbursed for reasonable expenses, as the Treasury Board normally defines them, incurred in travelling to the place of duty and back to the place where they were vacationing, if they resume the vacation immediately. They must submit expense accounts with receipts. When the minister cancels or alters vacation leave that was previously approved, the employee shall be reimbursed for any reasonable monetary penalty incurred in cancelling reservations.
If a person on the minister's exempt staff ceases to be employed or dies, the person or the estate shall be paid for any earned but unused vacation leave, except management leave, according to the following formula:
(days of unused vacation) X (daily pay rate on the day service ends)
In the event of the termination of employment for reasons other than death, a change in government or when the minister ceases to be a minister, unearned vacation leave taken by the employee will be recovered from any monies owed upon termination.
Exempt staff may cash out any or all of their earned but unused vacation leave at any time during the fiscal year with the approval of their minister.
The following are designated paid holidays:
Ministers' exempt staff is not entitled to designated paid holidays if they are on leave without pay on the full working day immediately before and the full working day immediately after a designated paid holiday.
A member of a minister's exempt staff is required to resign or request leave without pay in order to seek nomination. The leave period may end (and the individual may return to his or her duties) once the nomination race has ended, whether or not that person is successfully nominated.
Any exempt staff member who has been nominated as a candidate in a municipal, provincial or federal election or by-election and wishes to campaign prior to the issuance of a writ must do so on their own time. Any exempt staff member who wishes to campaign as a candidate after the issuance of a writ in an election, must resign or be granted leave without pay, at the minister's discretion.
After the writs are issued or once Parliament or any provincial legislature or territorial council is dissolved, the exempt staff member should avoid declaring or having himself or herself declared by others to be a candidate before he or she has resigned or started the leave without pay.
Should a member of the minister's exempt staff decide to become actively involved on a full-time basis in a federal, provincial, or territorial election or by‑election, the member is required to take leave without pay or resign his or her position. If a member becomes engaged in campaign activities on a part-time basis, his or her involvement must be on his or her own time and not during regular office hours. No vacation leave or any other leave with pay will be permitted for election purposes.
When exempt staff members must work overtime hours, or when they work or travel on a day of rest or on a holiday, they may be granted management leave (leave with pay). This leave is granted as a minister considers appropriate, with the appropriate documentation. Management leave should be granted as soon as possible after the period that justifies it and must not exceed the overtime hours worked or spent in travel. In no circumstances shall management leave be granted after an election has been called or as compensation for election activities.
A minister may grant leave of absence with pay, for a period of no longer than two weeks, when the place of work has been rendered uninhabitable and the employee cannot perform his or her duties until an alternative place has been found or when the employee is required or urgently needed to help with a community emergency.
The Treasury Board authorizes departmental staff complements and personnel costs budgets to be provided from existing departmental resources. In keeping with the Public Service's non‑partisan tradition, departmental staff assigned to a minister's office may provide only non‑partisan departmental advice or administrative assistance that falls within the scope of the minister's portfolio responsibilities. The duties of the Departmental Assistant assigned to a minister's office would normally include liaising between the minister's office and the department, as well as managing the sharing of information and documents. The duties would also include providing, in collaboration with the deputy minister and senior departmental officials, advice on departmental issues to the minister and his or her exempt staff.
A minister is permitted one Departmental Assistant, which could be classified at a level equivalent to PM‑06, EX‑01, or EX‑02, commensurate with the breadth of knowledge and expertise required for this position; that this one position is not funded from the minister's departmental staff budget, but directly from existing departmental reference levels. All other remaining departmental staff positions, which are funded from the minister's departmental staff budget, are considered to be support staff positions. There can be a maximum of one senior support staff position. All other positions may only be classified up to the AS-04 level. These departmental staff dedicated to a minister's office must be funded from the departmental staff budget allocated to the minister.
A minister may hire as many departmental staff as the departmental staff budget will allow; however, subject to 4.2 departmental staff budget maximums may not be exceeded without prior Treasury Board approval.
Ministers should make available the services of their departmental staff to assist ministers of state.
Maximum levels for departmental staff for ministers' offices are indicated in the following table:
|Position Titles||Public Service Level (up to)*|
|Departmental Assistant||EX-02 or
|Senior Support Staff||AS-05|
* Public Service classified levels and salary increments within ranges will apply.
Departmental staff assigned to a minister's office are Public Service employees in the employ of their department. These persons cannot transfer with a minister when he or she changes portfolio. Persons whose main duties have been to provide a personal service to a minister however are an exception, since the personal service they provide is more important than their knowledge of departmental organizations or responsibilities. For this reason, two departments may make arrangements to transfer such persons, provided this does not duplicate roles.
The Treasury Board will consider any other requests for exceptions to this policy. In developing proposals for exceptions, ministers should give due consideration to the potential implications for departmental employees who may be displaced by other Public Service employees who may move from the previous portfolio.
Departmental staff may be physically located near the minister's office and normally receive direction from the minister or exempt staff members in the conduct of the business of the minister's office. They are, however, at all times an integral part of the human resources of the department and, as such, are ultimately responsible to departmental authorities.
Departmental staff in ministers' offices should not provide services that are readily available in the department. Ministers should look to the deputy minister for professional advice and support on both policies and operations across the full range of their responsibilities.
In all cases (i.e. resignation, death, dismissal, layoff, and retirement), discretionary separation payments are in addition to any severance pay entitlement.
As soon as they are known, the minister, or his or her delegate, is responsible for communicating to the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner the names and titles of all exempt staff members whose employment has terminated or who have left the minister's office. The Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner will communicate with all exempt staff members regarding their post-employment obligations under the Conflict of Interest Act.
Employees have a right to severance pay when they end their services voluntarily, are dismissed, die, or are laid off owing to lack of work or discontinuance of a function. Severance pay stays the same, whatever the circumstances of termination; that is, the amounts will be the same for resignation, death, dismissal, lay-off, and retirement.
When a person on a minister's exempt staff ceases to be employed, severance pay is calculated at the rate of two weeks' pay (based on salary at termination) for each year of service. "Service" for this purpose refers to service as an exempt staff member only. Calculations are pro-rated in respect of part of a year's service. There is no ceiling on the maximum number of weeks to be paid.
Severance payments are to be funded centrally, through a central Treasury Board Vote, as required.
For severance purposes, in certain cases ministers may recognize (or "transfer in") an exempt staff member's previous service with a member of Parliament's staff.
The exempt staff member must have gone directly from this service to the minister's office (in other words, there must not have been a break in service of more than three months). Furthermore, the exempt staff member must not have received severance payment from Parliament. If the exempt staff member wants to transfer in previous service, he or she must obtain approval in writing from the minister at the time of hiring. The exempt staff member then sends one copy of this approval to the department's pay office and another copy to Parliament. Upon termination of employment, an exempt staff member's severance pay for service as a member of Parliament's staff member will be one week's pay per completed year of service (based on the salary at termination of employment as an exempt staff member) as long as the exempt staff member, with the combined service of the previous employer and service with the minister, has fulfilled the requirements of the previous employer to receive severance pay. The maximum carry over for severance pay related to the previous service transferred in from a member of Parliament's office is 12 weeks.
For those exempt staff members in their 30‑day period, starting November 4, 1993, and who transferred in to a minister's office from an MP's office (as defined in the PSSA) immediately prior to April 1, 1987 (i.e. without a break in service of more than three months) and who did not receive severance pay for their service from the previous employer, departments are advised that, for severance purposes, this previous service as a member of an MP's staff is deemed to have been transferred in with the employee. Severance for this previous service will be calculated at one week's pay per completed year of service as an MP's staff member (maximum of 12 weeks' severance pay), at the final salary at termination of employment as an exempt staff member. The regular severance pay provisions for their service as exempt staff members will also apply.
Separation pay may be paid at the discretion of the minister when the employee's services are ended. This pay is intended to compensate for possible loss of earnings resulting from an often unpredictable and, at times, abrupt termination of employment. Separation pay is paid as a lump-sum when the exempt staff member ceases to be an exempt staff.
A minister, at his or her discretion, may authorize separation pay taking into account seniority, length of service or other relevant considerations. Examples of situations where this may occur include:
Examples of situations where separation pay should not ordinarily be provided:
A minister must approve separation pay prior to ceasing to be a minister or prior to changing portfolios or responsibilities. Separation pay may be authorized by the Prime Minister's Office when the minister has already left the portfolio.
Separation payments are to be funded through departmental operating budgets and not charged to the minister's exempt staff budget or other operating budget.
To compensate for possible loss of earnings, ministers may, at their discretion, authorize a maximum of up to four months' separation pay for a period of service of less than four years and up to six months separation pay for a period of four years or more. While a minister may authorize separation pay up to the maximum set out above, separation pay of one month per year of service is considered reasonable.
Separation pay is not paid when a member of the exempt staff has been granted leave without pay from the Public Service to work in the minister's office. In this case, the person remains an employee in the department that granted the leave without pay, and any subsequent termination benefit would be the responsibility of that department.
If a person who has received separation pay works in or for another minister's office or any federal institution during the period covered by his or her separation pay, whether compensated directly as an employee or contractor, or indirectly, as an employee or subcontractor of a contractor, the separation pay is to be refunded proportionately. This provision averts a duplication of payments out of government funds (i.e. the Consolidated Revenue Fund). Refer to Government of Canada Estimates and appropriations documents to determine organizations funded through the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
When a minister ceases to be a minister, or changes portfolio and does not take a member of the exempt staff to the new portfolio, affected employees continue to draw salary for 30 calendar days, in accordance with section 128 of the Public Service Employment Act (PSEA). Where a minister authorizes separation pay, the payment begins at the end of this 30‑day period. When ministers cease to hold office due to a Cabinet shuffle or a general election, members of their exempt staff who are not rehired by a minister or in the Public Service are to be deemed to have been laid off at the end of the 30‑day period for the purposes of the Public Service Health Care Plan and the Public Service Dental Plan.
A member of the exempt staff shall be paid according to the following formula for vacation leave that is earned but unused:
(days of unused vacation) multiplied by (daily pay rate on the day service ends)
Management leave (section 3.5.5) may not be counted as earned vacation leave.
Under Section 35.2 of the Public Service Employment Act, former ministers' exempt staff who have been employed for at least three successive years as exempt staff in a minister's office, in the office of the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, or in the office of the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons, may be eligible to participate in internal advertised appointment processes open to all employees of the Public Service.
This mobility provision is effective for a period of one year after the person ceases to be employed as ministers' exempt staff. As a participant in internal advertised appointment processes, former ministers' exempt staff also have the right to make a complaint to the Public Service Staffing Tribunal.
The Public Service Commission (PSC) has retained the authority to determine eligibility for the mobility provision. Applicants will need to complete the Request Form – Confirmation of Former Ministers' Staff Mobility Provision available on the PSC website. The PSC will review the request and advise, in writing, regarding eligibility. Further information is available from internal departmental Human Resources or the PSC website.
A minister may, prior to ceasing to be a minister or changing portfolios or responsibilities, authorize up to $5,000 to cover fees for professional outplacement services for a member of his or her exempt staff whose employment has ended. An exempt staff member whose employment has been terminated should register with an outplacement firm within 30 days of the termination date or in the 30 days after a minister ceases to be a minister. This should be done within these time frames, even if services may be rendered at a later date. However, in all cases, services must be rendered within one year of the termination date.
Outplacement services usually provide such information as how to prepare a résumé, how to prepare for an interview, and how to present oneself at an interview. Costs for training or skills improvement, such as computer literacy or language courses, are not included.
Typically, the outplacement firm enters into a signed agreement with
the member of the exempt staff that stipulates what services will be rendered.
Invoices are to be sent to the departmental financial services unit. The cost
of outplacement services is charged to the minister's other
operating costs budget.
Ministers have a separate exempt staff budget for hiring students, normally during the summer months. Students are not hired through the Public Service student employment programs, however, these program rates are useful as a guide to remuneration and are available on Treasury Board Secretariat's website: Terms and Conditions of Employment for Students.
Student exempt staff is, in general, subject to some of the same terms and conditions of employment as exempt staff. However, for the purposes of leave, designated holidays, lay-off, and part-time assignments, the Public Service Terms and Conditions of Employment for Students will apply to student exempt staff. Student exempt staff is not eligible for severance pay, separation pay, acting pay or leave with pay, other than bereavement leave, nor outplacement assistance.
When a minister changes portfolio or when a new minister is appointed to an existing portfolio, any exception(s) to these policies for ministers' offices with respect to the exempt or departmental staff complement (eg. additional or new positions, salary rates) approved by the Treasury Board for that portfolio expire. Exceptions for ministers changing portfolios will require re-approval by the Treasury Board. Should any exception(s) at the time of the portfolio change be approved, the appropriate minister(s) will be informed by written communication.