PSAC opposes new Phoenix overpayment recovery plan

Last week, Treasury Board announced they would begin a new Phoenix overpayment recovery process for a number of PSAC members they believe were overpaid by the Phoenix pay system in 2016 and 2017.

PSAC has serious concerns with the new recovery plan because it significantly changes the way that PSAC and other bargaining agents negotiated how overpayments would be recovered. Typically, an employee’s whole pay file needs to be reconciled before any recovery takes place to ensure the amount owed is correct.

Affected employees may receive a letter from the Pay Centre asking them to acknowledge in writing that they were overpaid by Phoenix and to select an option for repayment. Employees will be given four weeks to respond. Otherwise, the Pay Centre will begin the overpayment recovery immediately.

National President Chris Aylward has repeatedly intervened to put a halt to this recovery process, and we are looking into our legal options to contest it.

Although we believe that employees who know they have been overpaid should acknowledge their debt and pay it back with a repayment plan that works for them, tens of thousands of PSAC members have been paid inaccurately by Phoenix and may not know if they were overpaid or underpaid nearly six years ago. Employees should not be compelled to acknowledge an overpayment – especially one they may not have the information to confirm is actually owed – under threat of immediate recovery if they don’t respond.

PSAC has repeatedly urged the government to hire and train enough workers to fix Phoenix errors as quickly as they can and to deal with older errors first. There should no longer be any unaddressed pay errors from 2016-2017.

In the meantime, if you receive a letter asking you to acknowledge and overpayment the union recommends that:

  1. If you are convinced you owe the overpayment amount stated in the letter, you can acknowledge that you owe the government the debt, and choose one of the repayment options that are provided to you in your letter, or request alternate arrangements if the payment options will result in financial or other hardship. We note that, in acknowledging that you owe this amount, you will likely waive any defence that may be available if the government exceeds the six year deadline for starting recovery of this amount.
  1. If you are not certain you owe the government the amount set out in the letter, respond to PSPC within 4 weeks and write:

“I have not been provided with enough evidence to convince me that I owe this money to the government because of an overpayment in (date).”

  1. If you continue to experienced errors in your pay in either of the above circumstances, you should also write:

“I continue to experience errors in my pay. I request that the recovery of any overpayment be deferred until such time that my pay file has been reconciled and I have received the correct pay for three consecutive pay periods.”

  1. Regardless of which of the above three options you choose, add either of the following if they apply to you:

a. “I was previously assured that the payments I received were correct and relied on these assurances to my detriment. I should not have to repay these amounts.”

b. “I was previously unaware that I had received an overpayment and understood that my pay was correct. I relied on that understanding and have suffered hardship as a result and should not have to repay these amounts.”

If you choose either of the second, third or fourth options, or if you have any other concerns not addressed above, or require any assistance with the above please contact us with your response by submitting a general inquiries form. Select Phoenix Pay Issues from the What is your inquiry about? drop down menu.


October 20, 2021