CRA Input: Strengthening HR-to-Pay Contribution

From Public Services and Procurement Canada

CRA Actions as an Employer

Establish a HR-to-Pay team within your department for government-wide-efforts:

Actions taken:

  • Established an Oversight committee, chaired by the Deputy Commissioner, to support a holistic approach to identifying and resolving challenges related to Phoenix, since July 2017. 
  • Representatives participate in all levels of HR-to-Pay governance committees dedicated to contributing to the stabilization of Phoenix (DH, ADM HR and ADM IT, DG).
  • Since April 1, 2016, we have reallocated funds to increase our compensation resources by 70 FTEs to address outstanding inventory and related increases in enquiries.
  • Reorganized to align with the new Phoenix model to improve overall effectiveness in operational service delivery, and to address new workloads that were previously completed by PSPC pay offices.
  • Established a proactive salary advance process for employees experiencing financial hardship as a result of low to no pay due to Phoenix issues. All salary advances that are identified before 3PM are processed and approved on the same day.
  • Established a process for employees to identify and escalate any pay issues that have put the employee in a financial hardship situation.
  • Proactively review no pay or low pay situations every pay, to identify and reach out to employees who may require an advance.
  • As of October 17, 2017, the percentage of employees with an open case over 30 days is 19.8%. CRA shows a downward trend since reporting in June 2017 (29%) and August (25%).
  • Implemented 100% post review process model to respond to Phoenix output’s unpredictability and ensure accurate pay for our employees. Approximately 1/3 of employees require an adjustment.  
  • Besides having created an issues management office to support the escalation process, we have established technical support teams to support compensation workloads by:
    • designing automated reconciliation tools;
    • developing inventory management reports and processes;
    • centralizing the execution of critical to pay reports designed to identify low/no pay and overpayment situations;
    • establishing formal error correction processes; and,
    • completing data reviews to identify opportunities for process enhancements.
  • Established dedicated teams responsible for managing the overpayment process.   
  • Assigned dedicated resources to work directly with PSPC to review and resolve Phoenix issues; some compensation agents worked overtime hours to support PSPC in addressing their outstanding backlog of inventory; offered IT support and IT resources to PSPC.
  • Increased capacity and accessibility to the compensation call centre.
  • Maintained a higher level of experienced IT pay specialists in order to address ongoing challenges and system changes from PSPC.
  • Developed additional tools and enhanced the current IT systems, to ensure the quality of pay transactions, reduce manual efforts by compensation advisors and accelerate the processing of pay.
  • The CRA Integrated Staffing System for actings, terms, and student extensions are completed by managers such that the majority of these transactions are processed without any additional manual intervention in CRA’s HR system (CAS). Strong internal governance and controls are in place to ensure proper risk management.
  • Followed a well-established change management process that includes testing at different stages and a signoff process to ensure high level of quality at every level.
  • Ensure that Section 33 is done on a timely basis when the Phoenix window is opened for Section 33 approval. In order to do so, Finance established an employee backup system, and provided several employees with a MobiliKey to ensure that they can perform Section 33 from home in case it is not possible to do it in the office. 
  • Finance performs statistical sampling of payroll transactions to ensure they are accurate. When inaccurate payroll transactions are identified, the Human Resources Branch is informed on a timely basis so that past transactions can be corrected and to enhance accuracy of future transactions.
  • A training coordinator is engaged in regular discussions with OCHRO regarding the roll out of training.

Actions we plan to take in the future:

  • Secure funding for enhancements and changes to the interface to align with Phoenix.
  • Establish a dedicated operational training/communications team to:
    • review and organize all current processes.
    • establish standardized operational job aids, checklists and tools.
    • revise the formal standardized communication approaches and products that are in place to support the compensation processing teams with their client communications.
  • Refine 100% post review process by analyzing historical data to identify low risk transactions which will reduce the effort for the quality assurance review.
  • Work with PSPC to allow salary rates to be sent through the interface to Phoenix. As CRA has different rates and allow for cumulative service for terms and acting situations, Phoenix is unable to properly calculate the rate of pay on appointment. This causes significant manual work for compensation. This enhancement will be more efficient and allow for timelier updates.
  • Continue to add new validations in the HR system to catch erroneous input based on resolved errors and feedback from users.
  • Maintain the level of experienced IT pay specialists required to successfully address anticipated future changes and challenges.
  • Work closely with PSPC to strengthen the change management and quality control processes.

Report on progress on the HR-to-Pay stabilization priorities:

  • CRA has the commitment and expertise in the various programs to ensure that requests coming from the Integrated Team are responded to in a timely manner.
  • Coordination of web services organization meetings to discuss challenges; represent these organizations on various committees.

Managers and employees are informed of HR-to-Pay developments:

Actions taken:

  • Provide regular and timely updates to employees through monthly information bulletins News about Compensation published on our intranet. In November, a dedicated Phoenix edition will be published.
  • Created a dedicated Phoenix Hub on our intranet, as a one stop shop for employees to find Phoenix related information and resources. A new webpage was recently published to help managers support their employees experiencing pay issues.
  • Unions are kept apprised and are consulted on corrective measures.

Actions we plan to take in the future:

  • As part of our HR Helps campaign, an outreach presentation on Compensation at a Glance will be offered to all employees on our CRA Wiki by mid-November.
  • Targeted communications are sent to all employees by our Assistant Commissioner and Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Human Resources Branch as required.

Managers incorporate robust HR-to-Pay practices into their routines:

Actions taken:

  • The CRA is different from other government departments as it has a time management and section 34 approvals automated in the Employee and Manager Self-Service portal (ESS/MSS) within our Corporate Administrative System (HR system). Timesheets automatically flow to the delegated manager for approval. Once approved, the payments or leave without pay recoveries are automatically processed, without compensation intervention. If a delegated manager does not approve the timesheet within nine working days, the timesheet automatically escalates to the next level manager for approval.
  • The CRA has also delegated the staffing authorities down to the lowest possible level and all letters of offer are created through the Integrated Staffing System. Once created, the letter of offer workflows electronically for approval and acceptance. Once accepted by the employee, the letter of offer is automatically processed. Compensation reviews the salary on appointment and makes corrections, if necessary. These tools have significantly reduced delays in processing pay adjustments.
  • A reminder to managers on the importance of managing timesheet approvals was included in the Phoenix Special Edition bulletin issued November 9, 2017.

Employees’ contact information is up to date:

  • Employees have the ability to update their personal information in the Employee Self-Service portal.
  • A reminder will be included in our December bulletin for employees to verify their information and the importance of accurate province of residence and impact on tax statement.

CRA Actions as Tax Administrator

The CRA has a dual responsibility in addressing Phoenix related payroll errors since it is the federal government agency responsible for administering income tax. In this respect, the CRA began preparing for potential income tax issues in the summer of 2016. The CRA started by providing public service employees with timely information, posting FAQs and related information on its website. The CRA also established a dedicated Phoenix helpline for employees to call with their Phoenix related income tax questions. In addition, the CRA has also worked closely with other federal departments, most notably PSPC and TBS, providing them with ongoing technical support and participating in media briefings. 

The CRA is processing amended 2016 T4s received from PSPC on a priority basis and proactively reassessing employees’ income tax returns so that they do not need to request an adjustment to their return and can receive benefits on a timely basis. The CRA generally carries out a number of post-filing season activities to ensure compliance with income tax laws. For public service employees affected by Phoenix, the CRA is making efforts to ensure that its activities do not compound their problems. This includes suspending collection actions for employees whose tax debts may be caused by Phoenix errors, working with PSPC to ensure that, where appropriate, garnishment orders are removed from employees’ pay on a timely basis, delaying post assessing matching programs until amended 2016 T4s are processed, and developing a fair strategy for addressing non-filers who are affected by Phoenix.

The CRA has the necessary processes in place to handle these types of employer payroll system errors. To put things in perspective, the CRA receives over one million amended T4/T4A slips annually from public and private sector employers, whereas the CRA has received approximately 54,000 amended 2016 T4 slips from PSPC. By all accounts, the 2017 tax filing season was successful and the CRA’s processes did not compound problems for employees affected by Phoenix. For the 2018 tax filing season, the CRA will continue to leverage existing CRA processes, update public information, maintain its dedicated telephone line and continue to collaborate and engage with other federal departments.

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