Rescinded [2011-06-08] - Guidelines for Demotion/Termination of Employment for Unsatisfactory Performance

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These guidelines are intended to assist organizations in the core public administration in managing situations where the employee's performance is unsatisfactory and action to demote or to terminate the employee is being considered.


These guidelines are issued pursuant to paragraphs 11.1 (1)(f) & (g) of the Financial Administration Act (FAA). Paragraph 12.(1)(d) authorizes deputy heads, or their delegated representatives, to terminate or demote an employee whose performance is unsatisfactory. Such action must be for cause in accordance with subsection 12.(3) of the FAA. Finally, subsection 12.2(1) permits delegation of these authorities.


These guidelines apply to the core public administration, for which the Treasury Board is the employer.


  • demotion(rétrogradation) – means an action taken by the employer to appoint an employee to a position at a lower maximum rate of pay.
  • Individual grievance(grief individuel) – means a complaint in writing, presented by an employee on his/her own behalf, in accordance with section 208 of the PSLRA, the Public Service Labour Relations Board Regulations and Rules of Procedure, or the applicable clauses of collective agreements.
  • termination(licenciement) – means the separation from the Public Service of an employee for cause.
  • unsatisfactory performance(rendement insatisfaisant) – means a non-culpable deficiency in job performance. It is the inability to perform the duties of one's position to a reasonable standard.


In making a decision to demote or terminate employment for unsatisfactory performance, the delegated manager should have ensured that:

  • the required level of job performance is determined
  • the level of performance required is communicated to the employee
  • reasonable levels of supervision and instruction are provided to the employee
  • the employee is allowed a reasonable period of time to meet the required level of job performance
  • the employee is provided with reasonable warnings regarding the consequences of his/her continued failure to meet the required level of job performance
  • once the inability to meet the required level of job performance has been established, reasonable efforts are made to find alternative employment within the competence of the employee.

The Public Service Employment Act continues to provide the authority for rejection on probation, layoff, dismissal for political partisanship, and revocation of appointment.


Departments and agencies

Departments and agencies are responsible for ensuring that the measures taken to act in a manner consistent with the foregoing principles are a matter of record. Departments and agencies must notify the employee in writing when they decide to demote him or her or terminate his or her employment. This notification must state the reasons for the decision and the effective date, and must inform the employee that he or she has the right to grieve the decision. Departments must consult the Employer Representation Section of the Treasury Board Secretariat prior to taking demotion or termination action.

Treasury Board Secretariat

The Employer Representation Group of the Treasury Board Secretariat will, upon request, provide advice and guidance on demotion or termination of employment for cause.

Redress Procedure

A person who is demoted or whose employment is terminated for unsatisfactory performance, as described in these guidelines, may grieve the decision by filing an individual grievance at the final level of the grievance procedure, pursuant to the Regulations and Rules of Procedure of the Public Service Labour Relations Board (PSLRB) and any applicable collective agreement. Individual grievances are also subject to third-party adjudication, pursuant to subparagraph 209 (1) (c) (i) of the Public Service Labour Relations Act(PSLRA).



Enquiries and recommendations for changes to these guidelines should be directed to:

Employer Representation Group
Labour Relations and Operations Sector
Treasury Board of Canada, Secretariat