APS Recruitment overview directive

This directive covers the recruitment process within the Alberta public service, including authority and conditions.


​​This directive provides an overview of recruitment in the Alberta Public Service, including information on authority and conditions for appointment, methods of appointment, delegation of recruitment authorities, pre-employment checks, return service commitment, and challenges to the recruitment process.

Unless otherwise specified, this directive applies to bargaining unit, opted out, excluded, and management employees.

Authority and conditions

The Public Service Act, Collective Agreement and procedures outlined by the Public Service Commissioner govern recruitment in the Alberta Public Service. The Recruitment Principles​ outline the way managers and human resource professionals work together to build a professional public service workforce that reflects the qualities and differences of the broader population it serves.

Appointments must be impartial and able to withstand public scrutiny. A fair and inclusive process that results in the selection of the most suitable applicant is required. Wherever possible, preference is given to in-service applicants to establish a career service and to provide incentive and reward for good work performance and self-development.

Employees whose positions are abolished and who select the priority placement option must be considered before anyone else is appointed.

Individuals appointed to the Alberta Public Service must meet the minimum recruitment standards for the position.

Individuals appointed to a position by competition, or exempted into a position under section 16(3)(a) or (b) of the Public Service Act, must be certified as qualified for the position.

To begin or continue working for the Government of Alberta, an individual must be a Canadian citizen, permanent resident or have a valid work permit issued by the Government of Canada.

Methods of appointment

An individual can be appointed to a position in the Alberta Public Service either by a competition or by an exemption from competition. The normal method of appointment in the Alberta Public Service is by competition.

The field of applicants in a competition may be restricted depending on the availability of qualified applicants. Section 16 of the ​Public Service Act specifies the type and scope of competitions used in the Alberta Public Service. Section 16 also defines the conditions that must be met to exempt an appointment from competition.

Delegation of recruitment authorities

The Public Service Commissioner may delegate the Public Service Commissioner's powers, duties or functions under the Public Service Act.

The following powers, duties or functions as outlined in Sections 16 through 18 of the Public Service Act have been delegated to employees holding certain positions in the Public Service Commission:

  • designate scope of competition
  • exempt appointments from competition
  • conduct competitions
  • certify person as qualified

These delegations are used for recruitment activities across the Alberta Public Service, with the exception of Executive Manager classes. All recruitment activities for Executive Manager Level 1 and 2 positions are delegated to the Executive Search branch in the Public Service Commission.

Pre-employment checks

Pre-employment checks are required to confirm an applicant's suitability and may include reference checks, post-secondary academic credential checks, security screening, pre-employment psychological assessment, driver's abstracts, or medical examination which must be based on job requirements.

Return service commitment

A return service commitment (to the Alberta government, not to a specific department) is normally requested when a department pays relocation expenses or an attraction bonus for new and current employees, including those in the bargaining unit. The normal term of commitment is 2 years; however, before entering an agreement, a deputy head may waive the commitment or alter its length. If an employee leaves before fulfilling the return service commitment, the outstanding commitment is converted to a debt due to the Government of Alberta. Reasonable reclaimable costs are calculated on a time or pro rata basis.


  • If the department requests the move, then no return service commitment should be required.
  • Where an employee requests a transfer or applies on a competition, a condition of the new appointment could be a return service commitment on moving allowances. When a current bargaining unit employee is relocating, the government, as the employer, must engage with the union as per the Collective Agreement to discuss the return service commitment as it constitutes a condition of employment.

Challenges to the recruitment process

The Alberta Public Service has a number of options to review recruitment processes. Human resource professionals are responsible for maintaining complete competition and exemption from competition records to support all recruitment decisions.

The Public Service Commission sets out the process for Alberta Public Service employees and external applicants to submit a recruitment complaint.

  • Step 1: Talent Acquisition Services in the Public Service Commission is responsible for resolving a recruitment complaint.
  • Step 2: In the event a complaint is not resolved, an individual may choose to bring their concerns to the attention of the Office of the Public Service Commissioner for review. The purpose of the review is to ensure the fairness and transparency of recruitment procedures and not to overturn selection decisions.

The Collective Agreement sets out the process for bargaining unit employees to submit a grievance regarding recruitment procedures for bargaining unit positions.

  • Bargaining unit employees follow the process set out by the Public Service Commission to submit a recruitment complaint for non-bargaining unit positions.

About this directive

Authority: Public Service Act, Collective Agreement (Article 51)
Application: Organizations under the Public Service Act
Effective Date: February 1, 2004 (updated November 2014; updated March 2019; updated August 2019)
Contact: Alberta Public Service Commission:
Labour and Employment Policy and Programs; Talent Acquisition Policy