Public service pay: Frequently asked questions

From Public Services and Procurement Canada

We are always working to improve how we communicate with employees about pay issues and the pay system. To help us do that, we asked departments to identify their employees’ most-asked questions. Here’s what we heard and our responses:

How much has been invested in the Phoenix pay system?

The Government of Canada is working hard to stabilize the pay system and has invested $645M on the implementation and stabilization of Phoenix. For more information on the breakdown of this amount, visit the page Investments in Phoenix.

What is the purpose of a pay action request or a feedback form?

These forms are used to inform the Public Service Pay Centre of any pay issues employees may be having. These forms are only used if your department’s payroll is handled by the Public Service Pay Centre. In general, pay action requests (PAR) are used to signal any issues or changes that will affect an employee’s pay. A Phoenix feedback form is generally used to follow up on a PAR or signal other problems or changes to your pay. However, each employee’s pay situation is unique, so please speak with your manager, human resources advisor, or compensation advisor.

If you are experiencing pay issues, we encourage you to speak to your manager or human resources advisor. The process varies from department to department.

For more information, see the following:

I have not received my pay increment. Do I need to submit a Pay Action Request Form to the Public Service Pay Centre?

No. For most employees, pay increments are automatically updated in the pay system. New pay rates are then reflected on appropriate pay cheques that cover the pay period in which the increment date falls. There are certain groups of employees (accessible only on the Government of Canada network) that do require manual intervention by a compensation advisor to receive their increment.

If you do not receive your pay increment in the pay period you are entitled to receive it, submit a Phoenix Feedback Form, providing as much information as possible (increment date, new rate, hire date, periods of leave without pay taken in the last 2 years, classification group and level, etc.).

For more information, see the following:

How do I contact a Pay Centre compensation advisor?

Pay Services Client Contact Centre representatives can be contacted to help review your case and document any relevant information. If necessary, a Pay Centre compensation advisor will contact you to request or provide information.

For information on how to contact a Pay Services Client Contact Centre representative, see the following:

My leave service date is incorrect in MyGCHR and I am not receiving the correct leave accrual. How can I fix this?

Submit a Phoenix feedback form to the Pay Centre. The Phoenix feedback form has an option for general pay administration enquiries, which can be used by employees to flag an issue with their leave service date.

For more information, see the following:

My timesheet in Phoenix is greyed out and I am receiving the following error message: “You are not a valid Time and Labour employee.” How can I fix this?

If you are receiving this message, contact the Client Contact Centre so a compensation advisor can enroll you as a Time and Labour employee.

If you have already completed the enrolment process but are still receiving this message, please contact the Compensation Web Applications Help Desk (accessible only on the Government of Canada network).

What is an overpayment and what are my repayment options?

An overpayment means you were paid more than you should have been. This is a frustrating situation and we apologize for the inconvenience and stress it causes. Overpayments usually happen because a pay transaction is late being processed. For example, your termination may not have been processed on time if the paperwork was sent or processed late by your department or the Pay Centre.

If you have received an overpayment, you must contact the Client Contact Centre at 1-855-686-4729 or submit a Phoenix feedback form (if your department is serviced by the Pay Centre) or a compensation advisor (if your department is not serviced by the Pay Centre). You must do this even if you have previously identified to your manager or department that you have received an overpayment.

If your 2017 overpayment is signalled to the Pay Services Client Contact Centre before January 19, 2018, every effort will be made to ensure that you will only have to repay the net overpayment rather than the gross, which includes any deductions that were withheld (e.g. income tax, CPP and EI). In this case, you will be asked to repay as of February 2018.

If your overpayment is not processed by this time, you will be asked to repay the gross amount. However, you will not be required to make any repayments until at least July 2018, after your tax account has been credited with an amount equal to the difference between the net and gross overpayment. A range of flexible repayment options will be available.

These delays were established so that you do not have to repay any sum of money you have not received. Reporting an overpayment also ensures the accuracy of the T4 or R1 tax slip used for filing your tax return.

If you are a former employee, overpayments are recovered in full from first available funds on termination of your employment, as per the Directive on Terms and Conditions of Employment. You will receive a letter requesting a personal cheque, money order or bank draft made payable to the Receiver General for Canada to cover the outstanding amount of your overpayment.

For more information on overpayments, tax implications and repayment options, see the following:

I have an overpayment showing on my records but have not been overpaid. What should I do?

Small overpayments can go unnoticed, for example:

  • an accumulation of short-term leave without pay yet to be recovered
  • a small allowance paid incorrectly to an employee over an extended period, such as a bilingual bonus that you were no longer entitled to

If your records show an overpayment but you suspect you have not been overpaid, do the following as soon as possible:

  • if your department is serviced by the Pay Centre, fill out a Phoenix feedback form
  • if your department is not serviced by the Pay Centre, contact your departmental compensation advisor

One note about accounting adjustments. An accounting adjustment is an administrative overpayment created for an employee as the first part of a salary adjustment process (reversal). For example, an accounting adjustment is made as part of the processing of an acting assignment that was submitted to Phoenix late. This accounting adjustment is intended to be processed with a large payment in the next pay period, and the situation is completely resolved. This is not considered a true overpayment.

You should review your pay stubs every time you receive a payment to ensure that you are receiving what you are entitled to. If you suspect being overpaid or underpaid, contact the Client Contact Centre or your compensation advisor.

For more information on how to contact the Client Contact Centre, see the following:

If I am overpaid, am I required to pay interest on the overpayment? If I am underpaid, am I eligible to receive compensation for interest I would have earned on the pay I didn’t receive?

The Government of Canada does not pay nor require payment of interest on overpayments or underpayments. There are processes in place to compensate employees who have incurred expenses or financial losses because of the implementation of the Phoenix pay system.

However, if you incurred out-of-pocket expenses such as interest charges, financial penalty charges or non-sufficient funds resulting from missed or late payments, you may be eligible to submit a claim for out-of-pocket expenses.

Also, if you require the assistance of an accountant or another qualified tax professional, you may seek a reimbursement for tax advice in relation to your 2016 and 2017 income taxes.

Finally, if you earned salary in 2016 that was not paid until 2017, you might incur a financial loss related to paying a higher rate of income tax or reduced government benefits and credits, such as the Canada Child Benefit. You can claim these types of financial losses.

Your organization has identified a claims officer who can answer your questions, help you fill out the forms and guide you through the processes in place.

When will the Phoenix pay system be fixed?

Right now, much of our focus is on completing collective agreement payments and minimizing tax challenges for employees. This work will largely be complete by April. At that time, our priority will be reducing the backlog of pay transactions and wait times for missing pay. We expect to see improvements in both these areas throughout 2018. We understand that this is a very frustrating situation for employees, and we are taking a whole-of-government approach in order to resolve pay issues, focusing on those areas that will help employees most. There are no easy or quick fixes for this situation, but we will do whatever it takes to ensure that employees are paid accurately and promptly.

How can I find more information about my pay stub?

Many of you expressed difficulty understanding your pay stub. We have several resources available to help you.

How to read your pay stub explains how to:

  • access your pay stub online
  • interpret the pay codes and abbreviations on the pay stub
  • understand your entitlements and deductions
  • learn about the deductions schedule
  • access and interpret mass retroactive pay statements
  • report errors in your pay

How your public service pay works explains:

  • when you get paid
  • how to calculate your gross pay
  • direct deposit
  • changes in your pay (including salary revisions, income tax, pay increments and overpayment recovery)
  • questions about income tax

More information

When will I receive my retroactive pay?

For a detailed explanation on the status of collective agreement implementation, we have two resources available.

The collective bargaining update shows:

  • the status of all the bargaining units
  • changes to the collective agreement once it has been signed

The frequently asked questions on collective agreement implementation for employees in the core public administration explains the most common questions and answers related to your new collective agreement.

How do I know if the Pay Centre received my pay action request form or my Phoenix feedback form?

We have received many comments and questions related to sending in a pay action request (PAR) form and a Phoenix feedback form. Only PAR forms can be tracked using the Track myCASE application (accessible on the Government of Canada network only). If you submitted a feedback form, it does not create a case within Track myCASE, and so you will not be able to track the progress. The following resources will provide more information on what to do if you are experiencing pay issues:

When will I receive my correct pay?

This is the most common question employees are asking. Unfortunately the answer is complex.

Right now, our focus is on completing collective agreement payments. While signing bonuses and salary increases are straightforward transactions, the processing and validation of retroactive payments has proven more complicated than we anticipated. When this work is completed, our focus will turn to taxes and processing transactions so that tax issues are minimized.

Once we’ve resolved these immediate priorities, we will redeploy our resources to tackle the queue of unprocessed transactions. We will prioritize those that have the greatest financial impact, and we hope to make significant progress on these in 2018.

When will I be fully transferred to my new department?

The transfer process can be complex and because it takes effect on the first pay of the month only, and with the current pay delays, it may take several months before your pay is issued through your new department.

You will continue to receive your pay from your former department until the transfer of your pay to your new department is complete.

Until your transfer is completed, you will not have access to your leave balance or your leave history, nor will you be able to enter overtime since you will not have access to the Compensation Web Applications.

You should take note of all your leaves requests and overtime in order to enter them once transferred. If you can keep a copy of your leave balance and history before leaving for your new department, it might be helpful to keep track of your entitlements.

More information is available on the transferring between departments web page.

When will I receive my record of employment if I just left the public service?

If you are leaving the public service, we have several resources available that include information on record of employment, benefits and final payments:

Is there a way to get money for the expenses I have incurred because of pay issues?

Yes, the Government of Canada is doing everything possible to ensure that no employee remains out of pocket because of Phoenix.

There are processes in place to compensate employees who have incurred expenses or financial losses because of the implementation of the Phoenix pay system:

  1. Claim out-of-pocket expenses
  2. Claim for impacts to income taxes and government benefits
  3. Reimbursement for tax advice

Filing a claim will not impact your pay, since claims are not processed through the Phoenix pay system.

What is going on at the Pay Centre and with the pay system?

We are working hard to stabilize the pay system. Updates can be found through our monthly dashboard and Pay Bulletin.

More information

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