FAQ: Phoenix damages compensation

See a full summary of our Phoenix damages agreement here. 

What does the compensation for Phoenix damages cover?

The Phoenix damages settlement provides three types of compensation.

The first type of compensation is general damages for stress, aggravation, and pain and suffering caused by the Phoenix pay system and the late implementation of the previous collective agreements. Any current or former employee who meets the eligibility below is entitled to this compensation.

The second type of compensation extends the Phoenix-related out-of-pocket expenses eligible for reimbursement for those who have specific expense claims to file. 

The third type of compensation addresses additional damages for those who faced severe impacts or hardship.

Your eligibility to claim one type of compensation does not impact your ability to access the other two.

How much is the compensation for Phoenix damages?

Compensation for general damages and late implementation of the collective agreement for the four-year period of 2016-2020 is $2500, based on a lump sum per fiscal year as follows:

Fiscal year

General Damages

Late Implementation Damages

 

April 1, 2016 – March 31, 2017

 

$600

 

$400

 

April 1, 2017 – March 31, 2018

 

$300

 

$200

 

April 1, 2018 – March 31, 2019

 

$300

 

$200

 

April 1, 2019 – March 31, 2020

 

$300

 

$200

Which period does this compensation cover?

The settlement covers damages for the following four fiscal years: 2016-17, 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20. The fiscal year is from April 1 to March 31.

Is the Phoenix damages settlement a part of the collective agreements ratified in 2020?

No. The Phoenix damages settlement is separate from the new collective agreements being ratified in 2020. They were however negotiated in tandem to ensure the full power of the collective bargaining could be used to secure the best deal possible.

Who is eligible for Phoenix damages compensation?

To be eligible for compensation, you must meet all three criteria: 

1. An employee “on strength” for at least one day in the applicable fiscal year. 

2. An indeterminate employee or an employee on a term of more than 3 months during the applicable fiscal year.

3. An employee in the core public administration or other federal agencies. (see next question below).

The term “on strength” means you are an employee and actively working, or on leave, on assignment, on long-term disability or otherwise not active, but remain employed.

Am I an employee of the core public administration?

The core public administration includes members of the following bargaining units:

- Education and Library Science (EB) 

- Border Services (FB) 

- Program and Administrative Services (PA) 

- Operational Services (SV) 

- Technical Services (TC)

Treasury Board has also committed to funding the same Phoenix compensation for federal separate agencies. PSAC has negotiated Phoenix compensation for our members working for these agencies:

- Canadian Food Inspection Agency  

- Canada Revenue Agency 

- Office of the Auditor General of Canada  

- Parks Canada Agency 

- Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council

PSAC is working to negotiate the same compensation for our members working for these agencies:

- Canadian Security Intelligence Service 

- Communications Security Establishment 

- Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions

- Statistical Survey Operations

Treasury Board has not committed to funding compensation for employees of parliamentary precinct units and Crown Corporations that use Phoenix. PSAC is pressing these employers to separately negotiate settlements for our members:

- Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety 

- Library of Parliament 

- House of Commons 

- National Battlefields Commission 

- Parliamentary Protective Service  

- Senate 

I’m a retired PSAC member. Am I eligible for Phoenix compensation?

Yes. Retired employees who meet the eligibility criteria above will receive financial compensation for each fiscal year for which they are eligible. 

To receive compensation, retired employees will have to file a claim through Treasury Board. Details and a link to the claim form will be posted when they become available.

Retired employees who are not eligible for compensation for any/all fiscal years may, however, be part of an ongoing Phoenix class action in the Quebec Superior Court. The law firm managing that case have compiled more information on the topic.

I’m a former PSAC member and no longer work for the public service. Am I eligible?

Yes. Former employees who meet the eligibility criteria above will receive financial compensation for each fiscal year for which they are eligible. 

To receive compensation, former employees will have to file a claim through Treasury Board. Details and a link to the claim form will be posted when they become available.

I was a term employee. Am I eligible?

Current term employees who meet the eligibility criteria above will be paid compensation directly. If you were a term employee, but are no longer employed, you will have to file a claim as a former employee. Details and a link to the claim form will be posted when they become available.

Are students and casual employees eligible for Phoenix compensation?

Current and former students and casual employees aren’t eligible for Phoenix compensation because they do not belong to any of the unions covered by the Phoenix settlement. The unions, including PSAC, cannot negotiate for compensation on behalf of employees outside of their bargaining units.

Students and casual employees are, however, part of an ongoing Phoenix class action in the Quebec Superior Court. The law firm managing that case have compiled more information on the topic.

What if I was a member of PIPSC or another bargaining agent before becoming a PSAC member and already received five days of leave as compensation under their agreement?

Employees who are eligible for Phoenix damages compensation negotiated by PSAC and another union cannot receive the full compensation from both agreements, nor can employees exchange the received compensation from one agreement for another. In other words, an employee who has already received paid leave cannot return the leave for compensation from the PSAC settlement.

However, employees who were in a PSAC bargaining unit and a different union’s bargaining unit in any applicable fiscal year may be entitled to the difference in the value of PSAC’s compensation and the compensation already received.  

If you’ve already received paid leave from another union’s Phoenix settlement for any given year and you were also part of a PSAC bargaining unit during that same fiscal year, you are entitled to any difference in the cash equivalent of each day of leave received and $300 (value of one day’s leave in the PSAC agreement). If the difference between the cash equivalent of the leave and $300 is $10 or less, you will not receive the difference.

In addition, employees will receive the late implementation compensation for each fiscal year they were part of a PSAC bargaining unit.

Example:

An indeterminate public service employee started their career in the public service during fiscal year of 2016/2017. At the time, the employee was in another bargaining agent’s bargaining unit and received 5 days of leave according to a Phoenix damages settlement. The employee became a member of a PSAC bargaining unit in the middle of fiscal year 2019/2020 and remains there today. The cash equivalent of this employee’s one day’s leave is $250.

The employee would be entitled to $50 from the PSAC Phoenix damages settlement, for the fiscal year 2019/2020. The employee would also receive a $200 in damages for late implementation.

Does this agreement mean I won’t be eligible for other compensation?

No. The Phoenix damages agreement provides for three types of compensation, and creates a faster, dedicated process for resolving individual claims.

In addition to what has already been negotiated, this agreement does not close off the possibility of negotiating further compensation at the bargaining table or further negotiations outside of collective bargaining should they be warranted.

I didn’t experience a specific Phoenix problem with my pay, does this agreement apply to me?

Yes. If you are an employee who meets the eligibility criteria, you are entitled to general damages compensation for stress, aggravation, and pain and suffering caused by the implementation of the Phoenix pay system.

If you incurred out-of-pocket expenses, or experienced severe personal or financial hardship due to Phoenix pay issues, you will be able to claim additional compensation by submitting a claim. See applicable sections below.

Is the compensation prorated if I didn’t work the full year?

No. You will receive the full lump-sum payment for each of the four fiscal years in which you are eligible.

Will a grievance be required to receive compensation under this agreement?

No. You do not need to file a grievance to receive compensation. Up to $2500 of general damages compensation will be automatically provided to current employees. Former employees and estates of deceased employees will receive a lump sum by submitting a claim. More information about the claims process will be posted when it becomes available.

Employees who have incurred out-of-pocket expenses due to the Phoenix pay system will be able to claim additional compensation by submitting a claim. More information about the claims process will be posted when it becomes available.

Employees who suffered severe personal or financial impacts due to Phoenix pay issues, including missed opportunities to earn interest on savings accounts or other financial and capital investments, delays in receiving severance or pension payments, sick leave usage, mental anguish or trauma, will also be able to claim additional compensation by submitting a claim. More information about the claims process will be posted when it becomes available. See applicable sections below.

When will we receive our Phoenix damages compensation?

Although the employer has committed to paying Phoenix damages as soon as possible, they have not provided a specific timeline. However, the current collective agreement implementation deadline is 180 days which gives the employer until Spring 2021 to implement all pay increases and deliver retroactive pay. We expect Phoenix damages compensation to be paid in a similar time frame. Once we receive a more specific timeframe, we will provide that information.

How will damages for current employees be paid?

The damages for current employees will be paid out automatically in the same manner you receive retroactive payments. You do not need to apply or submit a claim for Phoenix general damages.

Will my Phoenix compensation be taxable?

We believe that this compensation for pain and suffering should be tax free. However, we will have to await a formal ruling from the Canada Revenue Agency. We do not expect to receive the ruling for another couple of months. The employer has agreed to await the ruling from CRA before issuing the damages payments. We will communicate with members once a ruling is issued.

If we are still owed money because of Phoenix pay issues, does the Phoenix settlement nullify our right to pursue the money we are owed?

No, members who have already submitted claims for out-of-pocket expenses and financial losses due to Phoenix should continue with the claims process. The government will continue to process these claims as they are received, and it will not impact your eligibility for general damages.

More information regarding out-of-pocket expenses is available from the employer.

What if I incur expenses or financial losses now due to Phoenix?

You are eligible to make a claim if you have incurred out-of-pocket expenses because of Phoenix pay problems. Such expenses include, banking fees for non-sufficient funds (NSF), financial penalty charges, interest charges on lines of credit and credit cards, etc.

To file a claim, complete this online form. 

Claims are made directly to the employer and not through PSAC.

There is a list of eligible expenses that can be claimed for reimbursement.

Make sure to keep a copy of the claim form for your records, as well as all your receipts and/or appropriate documentation.

Departments and agencies have assigned claims officers to help you with this process.

If the employer denies your claim, in whole or in part, you have the right to file a grievance. Please contact the PSAC representative in your workplace, or your component.

See also: Claims for expenses and financial losses due Phoenix: claim out-of-pocket expenses

What if I incurred severe personal and financial impacts due to Phoenix?

PSAC members who have suffered severe losses due to the Phoenix pay system, such as major financial losses (cars, homes, investments etc.), and longer-term impacts like ruined credit ratings, will be entitled to claim additional damages.

A member who has incurred a loss that exceeds $1,500 in value can make a claim for major financial hardship or mental anguish caused by the Phoenix pay system that includes, but is not limited to:

- accumulated interest on outstanding amounts for loans, mortgages, credit card or other debts due to delayed severance or pension payments, or missing pay;

- use of sick leave or other paid or unpaid leave for illness (the $1,500 threshold does not apply in this case);

- loss of security clearance, bankruptcy or significant credit rating impact, whether solely or in part caused by the Phoenix pay system;

- forced resignation from the public service because of financial hardship;

- mental anguish and trauma that interfered with their ability to lead a normal life, whether solely or in part by the Phoenix pay system;

- financial losses from cashing-in public investments or RRSPs due to unpaid earnings.

Details and a link to the claims process will be posted when it becomes available.

Make sure to keep a copy of the claim form for your records, as well as all of your receipts and/or appropriate documentation.

The employer has up to 2 years from the time they receive the necessary information to make a decision. If the employer denies your claim, in whole or in part, you have the right to file a grievance. Details on the process for filing a grievance will be posted when it becomes available.

The employer is in the process of setting up a new claims office to process claims for damages for severe impacts and other demonstrable cases following the signing of this agreement. Once the claims process is set up, claims will be made directly to the employer and not through PSAC.

What happens to the grievance I filed related to Phoenix?

PSAC’s Phoenix settlement provides general damages compensation for stress, aggravation, and pain and suffering caused by the implementation of the Phoenix pay system.

Grievances filed prior to this agreement related to general damages or late implementation of collective agreements will be reviewed, and if resolved, will be withdrawn.

Members with outstanding grievances will be contacted regarding how their grievances will be addressed in light of the settlement.

Members will be contacted prior to the withdrawal of any grievance. Grievances will also only be withdrawn if the underlying pay issues stemming from the grievance have been resolved.

If you have an outstanding grievance and unresolved pay issues, please see the section below on ways PSAC can assist with resolving your pay issues.

What can I do if my pay issues have not been resolved?

PSAC’s mission is to defend and support federal public service workers. Nobody knows better than we do how hard you work for Canadians. That’s why PSAC has worked hard to secure support for those impacted by Phoenix. Know your rights—and access the support you deserve.

If you have been impacted by Phoenix, we created a quick resource for various common problems.

If you need personal assistance with resolving a complex pay issue, you can reach out to one of our Pay Issue Specialists by submitting a general inquiries form. Select Phoenix pay issue from the What is your inquiry about? drop down menu. A member of our team will contact you.

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October 9, 2020