Merit in the BC Public Service

Hiring and promoting individuals based on their ability to perform a job, and not based on political or personal connections is at the heart of the merit principle that guides our work.

Fairness is essential to merit-based hiring. When we audit or review a competition, we look for:  

  • Open and transparent approach   
  • Objective and relevant means of assessment  
  • Equitable treatment of applicants  
  • Reasonable decisions  

The BC Public Service Act provides that appointments to and from within the BC Public Service be:  

  • Based on the principle of merit   
  • The result of a process designed to appraise the knowledge, skills, and abilities of eligible applicants   

What does a “process designed to appraise the knowledge, skills and abilities of eligible applicants” mean?  

The process by which individuals are considered for a position in the public service is also known as a competition, selection process or an expression of interest. 

In order to be considered for the appointment, applicants must meet:   

  • Conditions of employment (e.g., legally entitled to work in Canada, legal age to work)  
  • Mandatory requirements (e.g., restrictions to a geographic area or organizational unit, minimum qualifications such as education, experience)  

It also means there must be method(s) such as interviewing and testing to assess applicants’ knowledge, skills and abilities relative to each other. Behavioural competencies are a form of general knowledge and skills. As a result of the process, the highest ranked candidate is offered the appointment. 

Section 8 (2) of the Act sets out six factors that must be considered in determining merit. The factors include:    

  • Education   
  • Experience  
  • Knowledge  
  • Skills   
  • Past work performance  
  • Years of continuous service in the BC Public Service; the requirements for considering and assessing this factor vary based on the collective agreement provisions that may apply to the position

The type of education, experience, knowledge and skill used in a competition varies in accordance with the nature of the responsibilities and duties of the position. 

Lateral transfers and demotions are the only exceptions to the requirement that appointments must be merit-based.

The requirement for “a process to assess the knowledge, skills and abilities of eligible applicants” only applies to permanent appointments and temporary appointments over seven months.  

 This table summarizes the requirements based on the type of appointment.