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.

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    I would normally think being sworn in means you are officially starting the position, but if you haven't been given an offer letter yet, I would ask the employer. – David K Nov 15 '16 at 19:52
  • @SiXandSeven8ths presumably, OP has determined there to be some perceived detriment to doing that and asked here instead. That being said, if you could expand on how to ask them for details without showing their hand about not knowing, that would make a good answer. – user30031 Nov 15 '16 at 20:04
  • @Socrates: Isn't that how they did it before twitter? – Nolo Problemo Nov 15 '16 at 23:21
  • "I haven't received an official letter of offer" -- did they offer you the job at least verbally, and did you agree to the terms (e.g. enough pay, benefits, etc)? – Brandin Nov 15 '16 at 23:52
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    Why don't you ask them? – Jan Doggen Nov 16 '16 at 7:35

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.

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    Is taking the oath equivalent to accepting a job offer? OP apparently hasn't received an offer yet. – Brandin Nov 16 '16 at 0:20
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    @Brandin I don't know about Canada (maybe you do?) but government jobs don't necessarily work like that. I know about the process in three European countries (at least a little bit) and in the places I know you are either given a copy of the “contract” on your first day at work or you are simply appointed (formally, it's a decision of the government, not an agreement or contract at all; there would be no point in appointing someone who isn't interested in the first place but it's a completely different legal framework and you are not expected to express consent like you would for a contract). – Relaxed Nov 16 '16 at 23:59
  • @Brandin In Canada, at least at the Federal level, accepting the job offer is separate from swearing an oath. You'll most likely be asked to recite an oath on your first day. – zmike Apr 12 at 15:29

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.

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