Staffing: Veterans Hiring Act

Veterans of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) have acquired skills and competencies through rigorous military training and experience. There are clear benefits to be gained when a qualified veteran joins the public service. Hiring a qualified veteran is also a way to recognize the contribution that veterans have made to our country.

The Veterans Hiring Act (VHA) amends the public service staffing system to provide employment opportunities for veterans and provide hiring managers with better access to this group of skilled candidates. It received Royal Assent on March 31, 2015, and will come into force July 1, 2015. If you would like more information about the VHA, please visit the VAC Web site.

While Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) has the lead on this initiative, the Public Service Commission (PSC) is working closely with our partners at VAC, the Department of National Defence (DND) and the Canada School of the Public Service (CSPS) to inform those affected by these changes of the new entitlement including hiring managers in the federal public service.

This page will be updated as information is available.

Summary of the changes

This page is designed to provide hiring managers and their HR Advisors with guidance on these changes, which include:

A new priority entitlement for medically released veterans

A new five-year statutory priority entitlement means qualified veterans who were medically released for reasons attributable to service will be the first to be hired in any appointment process. Priority entitlements apply to all appointments.

Modern day veterans have a preference for appointment to a job open to the public

If there are no qualified persons with a priority entitlement, a qualified veteran must be appointed to a job that was advertised to the public, before any other Canadian citizen. This applies for five years after a CAF member is honourably released, unless the veteran has already found a public service job. Eligible veterans will be identified in the list of applicants.

CAF members and veterans are treated as employees in advertised internal appointments

In an advertised internal appointment process, the limits set out in the area of selection do not apply to eligible CAF members and veterans, excepting any employment equity provisions. CAF members with at least three years of service, and veterans, are eligible to apply and participate for up to five years after being honourably released. Eligible veterans will have access to the advertisements posted on jobs.gc.ca.

If you have questions about how the Veterans Hiring Act will affect your staffing, please speak to your Strategic Staffing Consultant.

Changes to the staffing system

Figure 1
Changes to the staffing system
Description of Figure 1

The graphic above illustrates the changes to the staffing system by showing three types of appointments using three horizontal bars. External advertised appointments are at the top, internal advertised appointments are at the bottom, and the bar for priority appointments runs down the centre. The bar for priority appointments begins before the other two, reflecting the requirement to consider persons with priority entitlements before initiating an appointment process. This bar overlaps both the external and internal bars, illustrating that persons with priority entitlements also be considered at any time they apply, in both internal and external appointments. The bar for external advertised appointments at the top shows three steps: Apply, Assess and Select. There is an arrow showing that the preference for appointment in an external advertised appointment process applies at the step labelled “select”. The bar for internal advertised appointments at the bottom shows the same three steps: Apply, Assess and Select. There is an arrow showing that the mobility provision is applied at the step labelled “Apply” in an internal advertised appointment processes.

Priority entitlements apply to all appointments

Under the Public Service Employment Act (PSEA) and the Public Service Employment Regulations (PSER), certain persons are entitled to be appointed ahead of all others, provided they meet the essential qualifications of the position. The PSEA establishes an order of precedence for these priority entitlements.

First, the VHA established a new five-year statutory priority entitlement for any CAF member who is medically released for reasons attributable to service. This entitlement will be first in order of precedence and begin when the veteran is medically certified as ready to return to work.

Second, all other medically released CAF members have a regulatory priority entitlement, which comes after all statutory priorities in order of precedence. This entitlement begins when the veteran is medically certified as ready to return to work.

Priority entitlements come first: before initiating an appointment process, before considering applicants and before selecting or appointing a candidate. Persons with a priority entitlement may be introduced to an appointment process in a variety of ways: through PSC referrals, by applying to a job advertisement and by approaching the hiring manager through informal channels. In all cases, and at any time in the appointment process, the hiring manager must consider priority persons and respect priority entitlements, up to the point when a written offer is made.

To confirm that a veteran is eligible for a priority entitlement, contact the PSC Priority Administration team. Information on priority entitlements can be found in the Priority Administration portal.

The information below explains various factors to consider at each stage of an appointment process:

Establishing the merit criteria

Choose essential qualifications that will identify a person who can perform the main functions of the position. Keep in mind that the other merit criteria (asset qualifications, organizational needs and operational requirements) cannot be used to eliminate persons with a priority entitlement.

Consider allowing for transferrable or equivalent qualifications from outside the federal public service in the merit criteria statements and the definitions that guide the assessment. For example: “Experience using (a program-specific) Management Information System (XXMIS);” could be rephrased as “Experience using management information systems.” Alternatively, it could explain, using appropriate verbs, what is meant by “using” the system.

Use common terminology and plain language in the merit criteria to allow persons who are not already public servants to understand the requirement. For example: “Significant and recent experience in project management in the federal public service” could be – “Experience in project management”. This phrasing doesn't prevent those responsible for the assessment from considering the breadth, depth and relevance of any applicant's experience. Alternatively this merit criteria could use verbs to explain the nature of the experience such as “coordinating IT projects through the full life cycle”, or “using project management techniques to establish resource requirements and timelines.”

Tip: The Government of Canada Job Bank explains essential skills in plain language for a variety of possible jobs.

Screening

Ensure that the reasons for eliminating persons with priority entitlements are related to the essential qualifications. Area of selection, advertisement closing date and other factors related to the administration of the appointment process do not apply.

Assessing

The CAF explains the experience and training for each military job on their recruitment Web site. Under the tabs “Officer”, “NCMs”, “Navy”, “Army” and “Air Force”, you can find the specifics that apply to a particular applicant.

Consider how you will incorporate alternate sources of assessment information. When considering a mix of internal and external applicants, it may not be possible to use a one-size-fits all approach. By planning for adjustments, you can make modifications that will lead to a fair result. For more information, call the Strategic Staffing Consultant assigned to your organization.

Design the assessment to proactively address common accommodation requests. For example, some applicants may require more time for a written test, but it is possible to design the written test without artificial time limits. You can find more information by searching for “universal test design” on the Internet or consult the PSC's Personnel Psychology Centre.

Selecting a person for appointment

Those who have a priority entitlement and who meet the essential qualifications must be appointed ahead of all others. The following order of precedence in priority entitlements must be respected:

  1. CAF members released for medical reasons attributable to service.
  2. An organization's own surplus employees.
  3. Employees returning from a leave of absence whose positions have been staffed indeterminately, or the employees who replaced them, if they are displaced when the employee returns from leave.
  4. Persons who have been laid off.
  5. Regulatory priorities, taken together, form the fifth priority in no particular order, and include:
    • Surplus employees from other departments and agencies;
    • Employees who have become disabled;
    • CAF members who have been released for medical reasons not attributable to service;
    • RCMP members who have been discharged for medical reasons;
    • Employees who are on leave of absence as a result of relocation of their spouse or common-law partner, and whose positions have not been staffed indeterminately;
    • Employees who were appointed or deployed to a lower-level position and are entitled to be reinstated to their former level; and
    • Surviving spouses or common-law partners of employees or members of the CAF or the RCMP, whose death is attributable to the performance of duties.

Notification and Informal discussion

Notification and informal discussion do not apply to the appointment of a person with a priority entitlement. However, providing feedback to and answering questions from persons with priority entitlements are requirements of the PSC Priority Administration Directive.

Notification and informal discussion apply to all candidates in an advertised internal appointment process, including persons with a priority entitlement who are in the area of selection and who apply before the closing date of the poster.

After the appointment

There is no recourse for a priority appointment. The opportunity to complain to the Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board (PSLREB) applies to all candidates in an advertised internal appointment process, including persons with a priority entitlement who are in the area of selection and who apply before the closing date of the poster.

Veterans with a priority entitlement are considered in both internal and external appointments. Regardless of the appointment process used, the oath or solemn affirmation and the rules for determining the rate of pay and probation apply to the appointment of any person who is not already a public servant.

For more advice on appointments to or within the public service, refer to the PSC Appointment Policy Guidance Series, or contact the Strategic Staffing Consultant assigned to your organization.

External advertised processes

Modern day veterans have a preference for appointment in jobs open to the public. When no persons with a priority entitlement are found to meet the essential qualifications in a job open to the public, the PSEA sets out:

  • Veterans first: A veteran who meets the essential qualifications must be appointed ahead of other qualified candidates. When more than one veteran meets the essential qualifications, other merit criteria can be used to select among them;
  • Canadian citizens second: When all veterans who meet the essential qualifications have been appointed, or declined an offer, a qualified Canadian citizen must be appointed ahead of other qualified candidates. When more than one Canadian meets the essential qualifications, the other merit criteria can be used to select among them;
  • Then other candidates: When all Canadian citizens who meet the essential qualifications have been appointed, or declined an offer, other qualified candidates can be appointed.
Figure 2
External advertised processes - preferences

Who is eligible for preference?

Preference applies to any modern day veteran who was honourably released from the CAF after at least three years of service and is not already an indeterminate public servant It applies for five years following release from the CAF.

To confirm eligibility

Jobs.gc.ca prompts a veteran to enter their CAF Service Number in their applicant profile when they apply. The applicant's information is validated with DND through the jobs.gc.ca system and provided to the hiring manager as part of the job application.

In some cases, a veteran may not have entered their information in jobs.gc.ca, but is still eligible for preference. If an applicant identifies themselves as a veteran, but is not identified through the system:

  • You may wish to confirm that the veteran entered their legal name in the jobs system. If the veteran needs assistance in setting up an account, this image may be helpful. There are also contacts available on the jobs.gc.ca Web site;
  • You can also confirm eligibility without the jobs.gc.ca system using the veteran's military personnel record résumé (MPRR), a document that is issued by DND (more details coming here). If this is used, an attestation from the public servant who reviewed the original is placed on the staffing file; and
  • If these avenues are exhausted, your human resources (HR) advisor may contact DND HR through their Chief of Staffing to confirm an individual's status (DND to confirm this contact).

The hiring organization determines whether a qualified veteran is already an indeterminate public servant. This is done using available information such as the résumé, the application, or during discussions with the candidate, before making an offer.

To manage the five year eligibility period

The key question is whether a candidate is eligible for preference at the time of appointment, regardless of their status when the job was advertised.

Eligibility may begin during a process: CAF members are always eligible to apply for jobs open to the public. A candidate may become a veteran after they have applied. In this case their eligibility for preference may not be apparent in their original application. The jobs.gc.ca system allows for the applicant information to be updated through its “refresh” function to capture these cases before an appointment is made.

Eligibility may end during a process: Preference for a veteran is limited to five years after release from the CAF so it is possible that a candidate will be a veteran when they apply, but will no longer be eligible for preference by the time an appointment is made. In this case, they will be considered as any other Canadian citizen. The jobs.gc.ca system allows for the applicant information to be updated through its “refresh” function to capture these cases before an appointment is made.

Figure 3
External advertised processes - five-year eligibility period

Figure 3 illustrates how the five-year period works using three scenarios:

  • In scenario 1, the appointment process starts and ends within the veteran's five year eligibility period, in which case preference applies to the appointment;
  • In scenario 2 a candidate became a veteran during the appointment process. In this case, preference applies to an appointment made before the veteran's five year eligibility period ends; and
  • In scenario 3 the veteran's five year eligibility period ends before an appointment is made. In this case, the veteran would be considered as any other Canadian at the time of appointment.

Tip: The jobs.gc.ca system has been updated to allow for a candidate's status to be “refreshed” or confirmed at the time an appointment is made, an administrative practice that will ensure the selection decision is based on current information.

How does it work?

Consider a number of ways to make preference work for you:

Establishing the merit criteria

Choose essential qualifications that will identify a person who can perform the main functions of the position. Keep in mind that the other merit criteria (asset qualifications, organizational needs and operational requirements) cannot be used to eliminate persons with a priority entitlement and can only be used to choose between qualified persons who are eligible for preference in an advertised external appointment.

Consider allowing for transferrable or equivalent qualifications from outside the federal public service in the merit criteria statements and the definitions that guide the assessment. For example: “Experience using (a program-specific) Management Information System (XXMIS);” could be rephrased as “Experience using management information systems.” Alternatively, it could explain, using appropriate verbs, what is meant by “using” the system.

Use common terminology and plain language in the merit criteria to allow persons who are not already public servants to understand the requirement. For example: “Significant and recent experience in project management in the federal public service” could be – “Experience in project management”. this phrasing doesn't prevent those responsible for the assessment from considering the breadth, depth and relevance of any applicant's experience. Alternatively this merit criteria could use verbs to explain the nature of the experience such as ”coordinating IT projects through the full life cycle”, or ”using project management techniques to establish resource requirements and timelines.”

Tip: The Government of Canada Job Bank explains essential skills in plain language for a wide variety of possible jobs. There are various competency profiles published on the internet that may also be helpful.

Advertising the process

The PSC's Appointment Policy requires that advertised external appointments are posted on the jobs.gc.ca portal with a national area of selection, for a minimum of 24 hours.

In addition to posting on jobs.gc.ca, the hiring organization may conduct additional advertising and outreach, including outreach to veterans.

Screening

A veteran who is eligible for preference must also be in the area of selection, and submit a complete application before the closing date.

Assessing

Preference will influence the way candidates are assessed in some external appointments. For example, one manager may choose to assess and appoint veterans before considering other candidates and another may choose to assess all candidates and apply preference to the selection decision.

To be eligible for preference a veteran must meet the essential qualifications for the appointment. A veteran can be eliminated if they do not meet the essential qualifications; however they cannot be eliminated for failing to meet an asset, operational requirement or organizational need. These factors can be used to choose among qualified veterans.

The CAF explains the experience and training for each military job on their recruitment Web site. Under the tabs “Officer”, “NCMs”, “Navy”, “Army” and “Air Force”, you can find the specifics that apply to a particular applicant.

When considering a variety of external applicants, it may not be possible to use a one-size-fits all approach. By planning for adjustments, you can make modifications that will lead to incorporate alternate sources of assessment information for a fair result. For more information, call the Strategic Staffing Consultant assigned to your organization.

It may be possible to design the assessment to proactively address common accommodation requests. For example, some applicants may require more time for a written test, but it is possible to design the written test without artificial time limits. You can find more information by searching for “universal test design” on the Internet or consult the PSC's Personnel Psychology Centre.

Selecting a person for appointment

Preference applies at appointment regardless of the status of an applicant at the time they apply. Ask your HR advisor to refresh the applicant data in the jobs system to ensure you are working with current information.

After all qualified persons with a priority entitlement have been appointed or have declined an offer, you can consider veterans who meet the essential qualifications.

After all qualified veterans have been appointed or have declined an offer, you can then consider qualified Canadian citizens. Those who are eligible for preference need only meet the essential qualifications. The other merit criteria could be used to select among qualified veterans, or among qualified Canadian citizens.

Notification and informal discussion

Notification and informal discussion do not apply in an external appointment process; however, when it is possible to do so, providing feedback and answering questions from candidates aligns with the spirit of the PSEA.

After the appointment

The oath or solemn affirmation and the rules for determining the rate of pay and probation apply to the appointment of any person who is not already a public servant.

If a veteran's eligibility for preference was confirmed by the jobs.gc.ca system, there is no need for additional documents on the staffing file. If a veteran's eligibility was confirmed by the MPRR, or by DND HR, an attestation by a public servant who reviewed the documents is appropriate. The attestation should show the details of the document that they saw and clearly identify the person making the attestation and the date the documents were reviewed.

For more advice on appointments to or within the public service, refer to the PSC Appointment Policy Guidance Series, or contact the Strategic Staffing Consultant assigned to your organization.

Internal advertised processes

The PSEA allows certain people who are not federal public service employees to participate in internal appointment processes to allow for workforce mobility. The VHA made two changes related to mobility:

  • CAF members with at least three years of service and who are not already working indeterminately in the public service can apply to any advertised internal appointment process. They are not required to be in the area of selection, except for any employment equity requirements; and
  • Veterans who were honourably released from the CAF with at least three years of service have the same mobility as CAF members for five years after release, if they are not already working indeterminately in the public service.

What does it mean?

Veterans and serving CAF members are eligible to participate in any advertised internal appointment process including term, indeterminate and acting appointments:

  • They can apply to internal advertised appointment processes;

    The PSC has modified jobs.gc.ca to allow veterans to view and apply to internal advertisements. Work is under way to modify the PSC's Appointment Policy to ensure all internal advertisements are posted on the jobs.gc.ca site;

  • Eligible veterans and CAF members are screened in as a default;

    The area of selection in an advertisement establishes who will be assessed using four factors: Organization, geography, profession and employment equity (EE).

    The organization, geography and professional factors do not apply to eligible CAF members and veterans who apply within the required timeframe and submit a complete application. They must be screened in on these factors.

    In this example: “Open to: employees of Department ABC whose positions are located in Metropolis,” an eligible veteran or CAF member is deemed to be an employee of Department ABS who is in a position located in Metropolis;

  • They must meet EE requirements;

    When an organization's workforce analysis shows an employment equity gap, the hiring manager may use the area of selection to target an appointment specifically to address this gap. In this case, eligible CAF members and veteran must meet the specific employment requirement listed in the area of selection, as does every other applicant;

  • They are treated the same way an employee of the hiring organization is treated in an internal appointment process;

  • The eligible veteran or CAF member must apply in the time period allowed, provide a complete application and participate fully in the assessment;

    Informal discussion, notification, complaints to the Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board, investigation and corrective action, measures for informal conflict management and proactive resolution of problems are handled as for any other employee of the hiring organization who is in the area of selection for an advertised internal appointment process.

Who is eligible for mobility?

The mobility provision in the PSEA applies to:

  • CAF members with at least three years of service and who are not already indeterminate federal public servants; and
  • Veterans who were honourably released with at least three years of service in the CAF for five years after release, unless they are already indeterminate federal public servants.

To confirm eligibility

Jobs.gc.ca prompts a veteran to enter their CAF Service Number in their applicant profile when they apply. The applicant's information is validated with DND through the system and provided to the hiring manager as part of the job application. In the case of a veteran, this matching system also gives them access to the internal jobs and notifications on the jobs.gc.ca system.

In some cases, a veteran or CAF member may not have entered their information in jobs.gc.ca, but is still be eligible for the mobility provision. If an applicant identifies themselves as a veteran, but is not identified through the system:

  • You may wish to confirm that the veteran entered their legal name in the jobs system. If the applicant needs assistance in setting up an account, this image may be helpful. There are also contacts available on the jobs.gc.ca Web site;
  • You can also confirm eligibility without the jobs.gc.ca system using the veteran's MPRR, a document that is issued by DND (more details coming here). If this is used, an attestation from the public servant who reviewed the original is required for the staffing file; and
  • If these avenues are exhausted, your HR advisor may contact DND Human Resources through their Chief of Staffing to confirm an individual's status (more details coming here)

The hiring organization determines if a qualified veteran is already working indeterminately in the public service. This is done using the available information such as the resume, the application, or during discussions with the candidate before making an offer.

To manage the five-year eligibility period for veterans

The key question is whether a candidate is eligible for the mobility provision at the time they apply, regardless of the closing date on the poster or any change to their status later in the process.

Figure 4
Internal advertised processes - five-year eligibility period

This figure illustrates how the five-year period works using four scenarios:

  • The first applicant, a CAF member who does not yet have three years of service does not participate in the assessment;
  • The second applicant, a CAF member who has three years of service participates in the assessment;
  • The third applicant, a veteran whose five year eligibility period ends after they applied, participates in the assessment; and
  • The fourth applicant, a veteran whose five year eligibility period ends before they applied, does not participate in the assessment.

How does it work?

There are a number of ways to make the mobility provision for CAF members and veterans work for you:

Establishing the merit criteria

Choose essential qualifications that will identify a person who can perform the main functions of the position. Keep in mind that the other merit criteria (asset qualifications, organizational needs and operational requirements) cannot be used to eliminate persons with a priority entitlement. Otherwise, all of the merit criteria can be applied in any order in an internal appointment.

Consider allowing for transferrable or equivalent qualifications from outside the federal public service in the merit criteria statements and the definitions that guide the assessment. For example: “Experience using (a program-specific) Management Information System (XXMIS);” could be rephrased as “Experience using management information systems.” Alternatively, it could explain, using appropriate verbs, what is meant by “using” the system.

Use common terminology and plain language in the merit criteria to allow persons who are not already public servants to understand the requirement. For example: “Significant and recent experience in project management in the federal public service” could be – “Experience in project management”. this phrasing doesn't prevent those responsible for the assessment from considering the breadth, depth and relevance of any applicant's experience. Alternatively this merit criteria could use verbs to explain the nature of the experience such as “coordinating IT projects through the full life cycle“, or “using project management techniques to establish resource requirements and timelines.“

Tip: The Government of Canada Job Bank explains essential skills in plain language for a wide variety of possible jobs. There are various competency profiles published on the internet that may also be helpful.

Advertising the process

PSC Appointment Policy requires that advertised internal appointments are posted on the jobs.gc.ca portal for a minimum of 24 hours.

In addition to posting on jobs.gc.ca, the hiring organization may conduct additional advertising and outreach, including outreach to veterans.

Screening

An applicant must be eligible for the mobility provision on the date they apply, regardless of their eligibility on the closing date of the poster or later in the appointment process.

They must become a candidate by providing a complete application within the timeframes in the advertisement and meeting any EE criteria in the area of selection.

Assessing

The VHA is intended to facilitate placing veterans in the federal public service. It allows for all the merit criteria to be applied in any order. There are also several ways to make an internal process receptive to external candidates, including veterans and CAF members:

The CAF explains the experience and training for each military job on their recruitment Web site. Under the tabs “Officer”, “NCMs”, “Navy”, “Army” and “Air Force”, you can find the specifics that apply to a particular applicant.

When considering a variety of internal and external applicants, it may not be possible to use a one-size-fits all approach. By planning for adjustments, you can make modifications that will lead to incorporate alternate sources of assessment information for a fair result. For more information, call the Strategic Staffing Consultant assigned to your organization.

It may be possible to design the assessment to proactively address common accommodation requests. For example, some applicants may require more time for a written test, but it is possible to design the written test without artificial time limits. You can find more information by searching for “universal test design” on the Internet or consult the PSC's Personnel Psychology Centre.

Selecting a person for appointment

If there are no persons with a priority entitlement who meet the essential qualifications, then various factors apply to selection, including operational efficiency and the assessment results from each of the qualified candidates.

One example: For efficiency, a manager may choose to deploy or offer an assignment instead of making an appointment. This decision may be made at any time; Another example: A manager may decide to consider all candidates who meet the essential qualifications and to use the most appropriate staffing process for the person selected. If this is a temporary opportunity, the manager would use:

  1. A secondment for an employee of another organization who is already at-level;
  2. An acting appointment for a candidate who is not already at the level of the job; or
  3. A term appointment for a veteran or a CAF member who is not already in the public service pay system. To ensure that priority entitlements are respected, the staffing file should show that this was an acting appointment conducted in good faith, and the term appointment is the administrative result of an selection that was based on merit.

Notification and Informal discussion

Notification and informal discussion apply to all candidates in an advertised internal appointment process, including those who are eligible as the result of a mobility provision.

After the appointment

For all matters related to complaints to the Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board, investigation and corrective action, measures for informal conflict management and proactive resolution of problems are handled as for any other employee of the hiring organization who is in the area of selection for an advertised internal appointment process.

The oath or solemn affirmation and the rules for determining the rate of pay and probation apply to the appointment of any person who is not already a public servant.

If a veteran or CAF member's eligibility for the mobility provision was confirmed by the jobs.gc.ca system, there is no need for additional documents on the staffing file. If a veteran's eligibility was confirmed by the MPRR or by DND HR, an attestation by a public servant who reviewed the documents is appropriate. The attestation should show the details of the document that they saw and clearly identify the person making the attestation and the date the documents were reviewed.

For more advice on appointments to or within the public service refer to the PSC Appointment Policy Guidance Series, or contact the Strategic Staffing Consultant assigned to your organization.