Policy Statement

It is the policy of the City of Toronto to ensure that procedures governing the selection and assignment of employees to temporarily perform the duties of a position are corporately consistent and cost-effective.

In the situation where an acting assignment is expected to last for several months, an employee development opportunity also exists. In these cases, managers are encouraged to balance operational considerations with employee development needs and employment equity practices.


This policy applies to employees in non-union and union employees on acting assignments in non-union positions. This policy does not apply to staff working in the Accountability Offices who are not eligible to take a temporary acting assignment in a City Division.


Cover off assignment:

The assignment of an employee to perform some of the duties of another position while at the same time continuing to perform his/her normal job responsibilities. Cover-off assignments do not involve changes in an employee’s current rate of pay.

Acting Assignment:

The assignment of an employee to perform the duties of another position on a continuous basis for a period of time generally not to exceed two years during which time the employee receives the applicable salary for the position.


Any acting assignment is authorized at the discretion of the general manager/executive director or designate in accordance with the terms of this policy. No further authorization is necessary, however, funding must be available and the authority will need to be tracked for administrative and audit purposes.

Employees should have completed at least one year in their current role prior to applying to an acting assignment or have obtained approval in writing from their People Leader to apply. Employees who are in an acting assignment may not apply for another acting assignment unless they have completed 90% of the duration of their current acting assignment or they have obtained written approval from their People Leader to apply.

In selecting employees for temporary assignments, managers are encouraged to consider their employees’ developmental needs and the degree to which the assignment opportunity can assist the division to further its employee development and any divisional employment equity objectives and plans (if applicable). Such consideration may result in more than one person being selected for the assignment and a rotation arrangement being implemented. Divisions may fill temporary assignments in accordance with one of the following processes:

  • Posting only within the division/section (Expression of Interest)
  • Posting throughout the corporation (job posting)
  • Direct employee placement.

Non-union temporary assignments of up to six (6) months in duration may be filled through an Expression of Interest or a direct placement.

Non-union temporary assignments of more than six (6) months and less than one year in duration must be filled through a competitive process, either posted as an Expression of Interest or a corporate job posting.

Exception: If the urgency of the operational need does not allow time for a competitive process, the assignment may be filled through a direct placement.

Non-union temporary assignments of more than one year (1) in duration must be filled through a competitive process. However, it is recommended that consideration is given to a corporate job posting.

If a temporary assignment has exceeded 24 months and is being extended, a business case is required to be submitted from the Manager to the Division Head for approval.

If a temporary assignment subsequently becomes permanent, the division must post the position corporately if it was filled through an Expression of Interest or a direct placement. If the temporary assignment was filled through a corporate job posting, the division may permanently place the acting employee without further competitive process.

Annual Review

On an annual basis, People & Equity will identify all employees who have been in the same position in a continuous acting assignment for longer than 24 months.

People & Equity will make this information appropriately available to the City Manager, Deputy City Managers and Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer, and Division Heads to review for positions within their areas. Following the review, if a permanent vacancy exists in the acting assignment position, the division determines if:

  • It should be posted corporately, or
  • The current incumbent should be appointed, provided the acting assignment was previously posted corporately.

If no permanent vacancy exists, the division reviews the situation to determine whether the acting assignment opportunity should be offered to another qualified employee or if the current acting employee should continue to perform the work to meet operational needs.

Salary & Benefits


If the acting assignment is at a higher pay grade, the employee is paid at the minimum salary of the acting assignment or, depending on their skill profile, up to 15% above the employee’s base salary, up to the maximum salary of the acting position.


Health and dental benefits, Group Life Insurance and Long Term Disability are calculated at an employee’s base position salary, with the exception of employees in the three L79 part-time bargaining units who will receive health and dental benefits applicable to non-union staff when on a temporary full-time non-union acting assignment (effective August 2016).


Any overtime worked in the acting assignment is compensated under the provisions of the Lieu Time policy as it applies to the acting assignment.

Non productive time

Pay for non-productive time (e.g. if eligible vacation, sick time, etc.) is paid at the acting salary as of the employee’s acting assignment start date (effective June 1, 2016).

Performance Review and Pay

Different procedures apply when acting assignments start and end within one calendar year, carry over from one calendar year to the next and continue for a full calendar year. Different rules also apply in these circumstances when non-union employees are on acting assignments and union employees are on acting assignments. For details on how to proceed in these different scenarios, see Acting Assignments Implementation Guidelines (Performance Review).


Cover off assignments

1. Usage

From time to time and where workloads permit, non-union employees are expected to perform some of the duties of another position while in addition attending to the responsibilities of their own position. Typically, this
requirement arises when an employee is required to provide relief coverage for another employee due to vacation, illness, or other brief absence from the workplace. Although the duration of a cover-off arrangement is unspecified, it normally lasts less than 30 days.

With the exception of exempt positions, managers are responsible for effecting such cover-off arrangements in a manner that does not require an alternate rate of pay. Options for providing such coverage include:

  • Assigning cover-off responsibilities to an employee currently filling a position at a higher pay grade
  • Assigning cover-off responsibilities to an employee currently filling a position at the same pay grade
  • Sharing cover-off responsibilities between more than one person.

Note: Exempt Position

In some circumstances, an employee in an exempt position is required to perform duties of a higher paid position. An alternate rate may be paid for such cover-offs of a minimum of two (2) week duration. This applies only to the following exempt positions: Administrative Assistant 1, Administrative Assistant 2, Administrative Assistant 3, Administrative Clerk, Program Assistant, Program Clerk.

2. Conditions

If, for operational reasons a cover-off assignment cannot be implemented without requiring an employee to perform the majority of the duties of a position of a higher pay grade, the arrangement may need to be redesigned. Alternatively, it may be implemented in accordance with the provisions of a different category of assignment as detailed in this policy.

3. Implementation

Cover-off arrangements do not involve changes in pay (exempt positions excepted) and, therefore, no notice to Payroll & Benefits Processing section or People & Equity is required.

For exempt positions, please refer to the Implementation section below under Acting assignments.

Acting assignments

1. Usage

Acting assignments may become necessary when:

  • A permanent employee is on a temporary assignment.
  • An employee is absent from his/her position for an extended period of time owing to pregnancy or parental leave or any long term leave, LTD, WSI or other circumstances. When replacing an employee on leave, a long-term acting assignment typically occurs for up to two years.
  • A new temporarily funded position becomes available.

In addition, it may be appropriate for an acting assignment to be made to a vacant permanent position in preference to normal recruitment procedure, particularly if there is doubt as to the continuing need for the position but immediate coverage is essential.

2. Conditions

For an acting assignment to be made to a position where the incumbent is temporarily absent, the following conditions apply:

There is an essential need for the incumbent to be replaced during his/her absence and the division has the funding to proceed with the assignment. The duration of the vacancy is known to be, or is expected to be, for a period generally not to exceed two years.

3. Implementation

Where the above conditions are met, divisions may implement acting assignments by following their divisional approval process, and submitting a completed Alternate Position & Return to Base Form directly to Payroll & Benefit Processing section. If selection is made through a corporate competitive process, People & Equity representative submits the completed paperwork to Payroll & Benefit Processing section. Where an employee has been selected to fill an acting assignment, the general manager/executive director or designate must agree to the arrangement.

Conflict of Interest and Employment of Relatives

In accordance with the Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Provisions of the Toronto Public Service (TPS) By-law, employees need to avoid situations personal interests actually or potentially conflict with the interests of the City. Employees must not participate in any part of the staffing process if a relative or a close personal relation is a candidate. Employees who find themselves in this position should be sensitive to perceptions and guide themselves according to the Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Provisions of the TPS By-law.

The Employment of Relatives policy states that relatives are not permitted to work together if this places them in a supervisory relationship to each other. A supervisory relationship exists when one employee has direct or indirect (i.e. one-level removed) authority over another employee through decisions, recommendations, judgment or influence.

For additional information, refer to the Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Provisions of the Toronto Public Service (TPS) By-law, the Employment of Relatives policy and the sample Questions and Answers associated with these policies on HR Web – HR Policies & Guidelines.

Approved by

People & Equity

Date Approved

July 5, 2001


January 1, 2023

Related Links

Acting Assignments – Implementation Guidelines