PSAC National Executive Vice-President Chris Aylward appeared before the Senate Finance Committee on February 7, 2018 to highlight the main problems the Phoenix pay system has caused our members and to outline two of PSAC’s key demands.
“As you are aware, Phoenix has caused a litany of problems,” Aylward said to the committee. “Many workers have been underpaid, while others have mistakenly received overpayments. Even those who haven’t had pay issues live in fear that they will be the next victim of this nightmare.”
More compensation advisors
PSAC is calling on the government to develop and maintain a permanent team of well-trained compensation advisors who will work in both the departments and the pay centre.
“Our union was able to negotiate with the government a recruitment and retention package for these workers,” said Aylward. “However, this agreement will only be useful if the government follows through with a robust and properly resourced process for hiring and training compensation advisors.”
Aylward also spoke of the problem with overpayments not addressed within the same calendar year. In these cases, employees are responsible to repay the gross amount, which is more money than they actually received.
PSAC has repeatedly raised concerns regarding the inequity of requiring these employees to repay more than they received, as well as the likelihood that many cases will not be resolved with an income tax return. While the government extended the reporting deadline to January 19, 2018, the extension failed to fully address the problem.
Therefore the union is demanding a complete exemption through a remission order. This is an option provided through Subsection 23(2) of the Financial Administration Act, which would:
- In effect, provide these workers an exemption from repaying the gross amount, which is more money than what they received
- Only require them to reimburse the net amount, which is the amount they actually received.
“Federal public service workers deserve to be paid correctly and on time, every time, for the work they do,” Aylward said to the committee. “And until this happens, the federal government should be doing everything they can to alleviate the hardships created by the Phoenix nightmare."
An audio recording of the committee meeting can be found here.