Measures undertaken to address pay issues
We are working closely with other departments to ensure employees in need of financial assistance because of missing pay receive an emergency salary advance. We also want to assure those employees receiving inaccurate pay that their pay issues will be addressed.
We are focusing our efforts on two areas: closing cases remaining in our backlog, and moving toward our steady state by increasing our processing speed for incoming transactions.
To date, we have taken the following actions to address employee pay issues following the transition to the new pay system.
Our call centre in Toronto is triaging pay issues, ensuring employees at the Pay Centre in Miramichi and in our satellite offices can continue to focus on processing cases.
- The call centre ensures that all employees reporting pay issues can quickly reach someone
- Call centre agents, totaling 100, handle about 1,200 calls a day with an average wait time of about five seconds
- Callers with more complex pay questions are being referred to a compensation advisor using a case status form
- Call centre agents can initiate the recovery of overpayments on behalf of those employees who wish to avoid potential tax implications and who want to resolve their overpayment situation quickly.
- We encourage affected employees to report their pay issues, including issues with deductions and benefits, through either the call centre or the feedback form
Our satellite offices are located in Gatineau, Winnipeg, Shawinigan and Montréal, with a total of 216 compensation advisors. This total is more than double what we originally planned.
- We will keep these pay units open until we are meeting service standards, our productivity is at optimal levels and Phoenix users are fully proficient
- We are seeing improvements, as our compensation advisors are processing cases with greater ease and speed
- With backlogged cases closed, we will have more than 200 additional employees available to help us move quickly toward our steady state, where Phoenix will work effectively and reliably with as few problems as possible
Among the advisors working in our satellite offices, 96 come from other federal organizations.
We thank the Public Service Alliance of Canada, which helped recruit employees for the new temporary pay units.
We continue to recruit and train new employees through the one-year Compensation Professional Development Program.
- Recently, 91 trainees entered the program and, as part of their training, they will be handling actual cases
More proficient compensation advisors and the types of transactions in the queue have led to improved processing times at our Pay Centre in Miramichi. A dedicated group of expert compensation advisors here, and in our satellite offices, are completing work on the backlog cases, most of which pre-date Phoenix. These cases generally involve supplementary pay, such as acting pay and increments.
All other advisors are focusing on priority areas, including disability cases, return from leave and leave without pay, terminations and new hires.
On average, the queue should contain approximately 80,000 transactions. Under normal circumstances, transactions are processed within 20 days. With the release of Phoenix, processing speed dropped to about 40,000 transactions in May (note: a single employee often has multiple transactions).
As of December 14:
- We are meeting service standards between 20 and 30% of the time
- We have the equivalent of two and a half months of additional work to process.
- We are processing approximately 100,000 transactions per month
- We are processing existing transactions about 40% faster, on average
- We estimate that the queue will return to normal levels over the next several months and we will return to our steady state
In the new year, we will begin posting reports to track our processing speeds against our service standards.
Enhanced training, tools and collaboration
We are meeting regularly with the chief financial officer and human resources communities to discuss issues and identify root causes and possible solutions in dealing with Phoenix.
In September, we held 13 expert-led information sessions for over 1,000 human resources representatives across government. Six more were held in October.
In these sessions, we were:
- addressing the top three issues identified by users:
- sequencing data entries in the system
- processing complex acting assignments
- handling data entry errors
- looking at the overall importance of timeliness of entries, as well as tips and tricks for using the system
In October, the training sessions focused on four additional issues currently affecting employee pay:
- Process to stop an employee's pay
- Tracking employment end dates and extensions to a specified period of employment
- Proper use of specific fields in the correct combination
- Avoiding the creation of multiple employees in the system
These sessions helped us adjust our training materials and examine needed system enhancements.
We are working with the Canada School of Public Service to provide employees and managers with Phoenix training, enhance and clarify our existing training material and develop additional support tools for Phoenix users.
- We are using online employee feedback to explain how the pay process works and how to read pay stubs
- We posted a new video about key processes and actions on the school's GCcampus portal
- We have redesigned our Phoenix support page on GCpedia (page available on Government of Canada network only) to make it easier to find and use, and we are posting new tools and resources.
A union/management joint committee is meeting regularly. The meetings provide a forum to discuss Phoenix issues and solutions and to share feedback from employees.
- The committee is co-chaired by Yaprak Baltacıoğlu, the Secretary of the Treasury Board, and Robyn Benson of the Public Service Alliance of Canada
- A new technical sub-committee is reviewing our steady state strategy, assessing progress and identifying existing and future pay issues to be addressed
We are developing enhanced tools and additional training for employees and managers across the public service.
- A dedicated team, including Phoenix experts, is visiting departments and agencies and holding focused training sessions with employees working in human resources. They are helping address the most frequent issues, such as how to correctly enter information for acting and newly hired employees and students
We continue to work with departments and agencies to keep new issues to a minimum.
- Compensation advisors from several departments are working closely with the Pay Centre to help address specific pay issues related to some of our more complex pay scenarios, such as for nurses and correctional officers
- We are working closely with Fisheries and Oceans Canada and National Defence, among others, to address unique challenges, and we are making progress
We are developing a toolkit for managers with reference materials, such as checklists and tips, to help employees experiencing pay issues. This toolkit will be provided to managers through departmental human resources branches.
We have also reached out to the National Managers' Community and other communities to obtain users' feedback on their experience with Phoenix.
We will look at our current client service model and find areas for improvement.
Enhanced technology and processes
We are monitoring system performance hourly to ensure that we can access and address pay cases as quickly as possible.
We are working with IBM and pay specialists to identify ways to help our pay advisors more easily and efficiently process payments.
- These specialists are working at the Miramichi Pay Centre to study how pay requests move through the system and how various types of transactions are processed
- We want to see if there are processes, activities or practices that can be modified to streamline the handling of pay requests
- Our goal is to make it easier for our pay advisors to get pay flowing to their colleagues across the government
We have established a detailed model for processing pay requests, mapped against productivity rates, incoming work, employee availability and other variables.
- We are stress-testing our model and assumptions with departments, employees and unions
- Our goal is to reach our steady state faster
We are testing different approaches to data entry which might simplify and speed up our work.
- We are running an internal pilot to streamline our handling of terminations
We are working to ensure that the system is ready to handle upcoming pay events.
- We have successfully tested automated payroll deductions for the upcoming year's charitable campaign. Charitable deductions start in January 2017
- Phoenix is already processing deductions from last year's campaign. Over 73% of employee donations are coming through payroll deductions, and we've reached over half of our campaign goal of $19 million
- We have introduced additional automation to prepare for changes stemming from re-negotiated collective agreements
We are working on system enhancements to technology and user training that will address existing issues, speed up timelines, increase automation and help us reach our steady state:
- We have automated salary calculations and increment dates
- We have set up automated notifications to inform managers they need to approve pay requests
- We have updated pay stubs to include garnishment deductions such as child support payments
- We are exploring options to make pay stubs clearer and simpler
- Based on feedback received, we will implement enhancements in the new year
- We will implement a self-service function to submit overtime during acting assignments for retroactive periods
- We have already completed enhancements to speed up transactions. For example, the pay system now recognizes and automatically adjusts levels for acting pay to ensure compensation is paid at the correct rate
Employees may now repay any salary overpayments by selecting one of several options such as lump sums and installments.
- Employees may contact the call centre to initiate repayment (1-855-686-4729)
- Alternatively, we will recover overpayments over multiple pay periods once the employee's pay issues are resolved
On Friday, September 30, 2016, all compensation advisors briefly had unrestricted access to government employee pay information.
- We have addressed this and other privacy issues and will conduct further testing to identify additional potential vulnerabilities
- We informed the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada of these issues. Also, Public Services and Procurement Canada's Special Investigation Unit conducted an assessment and reported that these issues were deemed low risk
We have met with all the heads of human resources, chief financial officers and deputy ministers to seek feedback on pay issues faced by departments. Together, we are:
- processing problematic cases (return from leave, terminations, leave with pay, disability claims and salary levels for new hires and students) as quickly and accurately as possible
- streamlining processes to reduce delays and errors that could result in missing or inaccurate pay
Employee compensation for out-of-pocket expenses and tax implications
Employees can now submit a claim for out-of-pocket expenses related to Phoenix pay issues.
- Expenses include fees for non-sufficient funds, financial penalty charges and interest charges
- Each claim will be considered on its individual merits and settled based on valid receipts and other supporting documents
- Affected employees are asked to keep track of the expenses incurred
Employees are reminded that they can request financial support from their organizations if they are missing any part of their pay.
- These payments can be issued within 24 to 48 hours
The claims process may also compensate employees facing tax implications directly resulting from the implementation of Phoenix.
- The Canada Revenue Agency now provides questions and answers regarding the tax implications of Phoenix payroll issues, including over and under payments as well as advances
- Telephone support for employees who have questions is also available at 1‑888‑556‑5083 (9 am to 5 pm Eastern time)
We have implemented a process to ensure that overpayments recorded in Phoenix are not reflected in an employee’s annual earnings, regardless of whether or not overpayments have been repaid.
- For any overpayments identified in the new year, an amended T4 will be issued.
- By the end of January, employees will be able to check the government’s Compensation Web Applications to confirm the accuracy of their pay
- Date modified: