I am looking to start a job with a provincial government subsidiary. I have been asked to come in today to be sworn in, but I’m not really sure what that means? I haven’t received an official letter of offer yet, but I have received a preliminary one. They also said they will be contacting my references soon, which means they haven’t yet. Isn’t it jumping the gun to be sworn in before these happen? I haven’t told my current employer that I’ll be leaving yet, as that’s still something that needs to be negotiated. Does swearing an oath affect this? I'm in the province British Columbia.
They will likely ask you to recite an oath vowing to uphold the laws of your jurisdiction or to pledge your work to the position you are taking.
It's both a formality and a legally binding agreement that sets you up for liability in case you are found to have subverted departmental or legal regulations (It probably also indemnifies your employer of your actions to some extent, but I Am Not A Lawyer).
A general definition (pulled from the Wikipedia page follows)
An oath of office is an oath or affirmation a person takes before undertaking the duties of an office, usually a position in government or within a religious body, although such oaths are sometimes required of officers of other organizations. Such oaths are often required by the laws of the state, religious body, or other organization before the person may actually exercise the powers of the office or any religious body.
Some oaths of office are a statement of loyalty to a constitution or other legal text or to a person or other office-holder (e.g., an oath to support the constitution of the state, or of loyalty to the king). Under the laws of a state it may be considered treason or a high crime to betray a sworn oath of office.
In some jobs, I'm thinking specifically religious, be it ministry, or in a school run by a church, they may require either ordination (such as a pastor), or for a candidate to agree to/accept their statement of faith or beliefs.
It makes sense that a church will not even extend an offer to a candidate that is not ordained in their denomination, or that has not affirmed their statement of faith.
Translate that to a government job: they may have a requirement that you hold some sort of title (secular version of ordination), or that you agree to certain job requirements.
There are some positions (judges, I think, as an example), where one step in the hiring process is to be "sworn in".
It is quite possible or likely that no oath will be involved here at all, but what is going to happen is everything that needs to be done to take you on board (which doesn't involve any ships), like signing contracts.