What is the Public Service Employment Act (PSEA)?

The Public Service Employment Act (PSEA) is the legislation that contains the principles and conditions governing the recruitment and appointment of personnel in the federal public service.

It also deals with other aspects of employment in the public service such as recourse, layoff, priority for appointment and political activity. The Act reinforces the values and principles inherent in the staffing process that are intended to:

  • Safeguard, protect and enhance the integrity of the public service
  • Maintain and preserve a highly competent and qualified public service
  • Ensure that the public service is non-partisan, free of discrimination and that its members are representative of Canadian society.

The PSEA is important in that it governs both the process and recourse to appointments and deployments.

What is the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board (FPSLREB)?

The FPSLREB is an independent quasi-judicial statutory tribunal established by the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board Act. It is responsible for:

  • administering the collective bargaining and grievance adjudication systems in the federal public service and in Parliament;
  • the resolution of staffing complaints related to internal appointments and layoffs in the federal public service;
  • receive complaints about appointments that were made to comply with an order in a previous FPSLREB decision, as well as revocations of internal appointments; and
  • dealing with pay equity complaints filed by, or on behalf of, groups of employees pursuant to the Canadian Human Rights Act.

What types of complaints can I file with regards to staffing?

The Public Service Employment Act provides the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board (FPSLREB) with the authority to deal with complaints involving:

  • The deputy head’s decision to layoff an employee. The ground for complaint is that the manager abused his or her authority in selecting the complainant for layoff
  • 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.
  • Internal appointments. The grounds for complaint are abuse of authority and denial of the right to be assessed in the official language of the person’s choice.
  • 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 by reason of an abuse of authority in the implementation of the corrective action.

The FPSLREB may also interpret and apply the Canadian Human Rights Act when addressing complaints involving internal appointments and layoffs. Which means you can allege that there has been abuse of authority based on one of the prohibited grounds of discrimination set out in the Canadian Human Rights Act.

Who can file a Staffing Complaint?

The Public Service Employment Act (PSEA) specifies who has a right of complaint under each type of complaint.

  • For an internal appointment process:
    • any unsuccessful candidate in the area of selection in an advertised process
    • any person in the area of selection in a non-advertised process.
  • If an appointment or proposed appointment occurs as a result of corrective action taken in response to a successful complaint under s. 77 of the PSEA, the following people have a right of complaint on the grounds that there was abuse of authority in implementing the corrective action:
    • the person who filed the original complaint
    • the person originally proposed for appointment or appointed
    • any person directly affected by the implementation of the corrective action
  • If some, but not all, of the employees in a part of an organization are selected for layoff, any employee informed by the deputy head that he or she will be laid off is entitled to file a complaint on the ground that the deputy head’s decision to lay him or her off constitutes abuse of authority.
  • Any person whose appointment is revoked in an internal appointment process by the Public Service Commission or by the deputy head is entitled to file a complaint on the ground that the decision to revoke was unreasonable.

There is a right of complaint on the grounds that there was abuse of authority in either applying merit or choosing between an advertised and a non-advertised appointment process, and/or there was a denial of the right to be assessed in the official language of the person’s choice:

Please note that a person cannot file a complaint on behalf of another person or group.

How can I file a Staffing Complaint?

To file a complaint, you have only 15 calendar days (not working days) of the date on which the notice of the appointment or proposed appointment, revocation or lay-off (that is the subject of the complaint) was received or, in the case of a public notice, 15 days after the date of the notice. The time limit is a strict one: The Board must receive a copy of the complaint within the 15-day time limit. Complaints received after the 15 days are considered untimely and may be dismissed for this reason.

  1. Advise your local union representative in a timely manner of your intent to file a complaint.
  2. Fill out a Form 1 which is available on the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board’s website, along with all other forms needed for the Complaint Process.

A complaint must be filed in writing and needs to include the following information:

  • Your name, telephone number, fax number and a mailing address or e-mail address that can be disclosed to all parties
  • 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 Public Service Employment Act (PSEA) under which the complaint is made
  • A full factual description of the events, circumstances or actions giving rise to the complaint
  • Your signature
  • the date of the complaint

You should not include all the documents or evidence that you intend to rely on at the hearing as all documentation accompanying your complaint will be provided to all parties to the complaint. Therefore, it is best to exercise caution when providing sensitive or confidential information (e.g. PRI number, medical information, etc.) with your complaint.

For more information on filing a complaint please consult the Federal Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Procedural Guide.

The Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board has also put together a presentation on Staffing, Process and Decisions – What you need to know.

For more information on any of the above, please contact your Local Executive. If they are unable to help, please contact your Regional Vice-President.