Response from Privy Council Office

From Public Services and Procurement Canada

Michael Wernick
Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet
Privy Council Office
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A3

Dear Mr. Wernick:

On November 2, 2017, you wrote to Deputy Ministers requesting that they provide a list of actions taken by their respective departments and the actions they plan to take in the future to help stabilize the pay system, and ensure that employees are paid accurately and on time.

Based on the data collected by PCO and the data provided to PCO by PSPC, on average 48% of PCO’s workforce have had issues with Phoenix. These numbers fluctuate from pay to pay with new cases received and others being resolved at each pay period. PCO generally has over 500 cases opened for a period of over 30 days before being resolved.

PCO has taken a number of actions to address pay issues and help stabilize the pay system.  First, a working group composed of representatives from Human Resources and Finance, has been meeting on a weekly basis since January 2017 with a mandate to apprise management of current and ongoing issues and the measures taken to address them.  Verifications are also made by Finance and Human Resources the week before pay to anticipate any missing or miscalculated pays and to issue priority payments on the day of pay.

In order to address the additional workload created by the implementation of the Phoenix system, PCO recruited four (4) additional FTEs to assist the Manager, Compensation Liaison as of February 2017. Two of these employees received training on the Phoenix system at the Pay Centre.  These two employees have been granted system access to all PCO employee pay files.  This enables them to process certain transactions (such as transfers in and transfers out) and to expedite the updating of employee files.

In addition, PCO Human Resources has created tools to assist managers.  An instruction guide for managers to document roles and responsibilities was delivered and posted on our Intranet site. This was also shared with Treasury Board Secretariat. As of May 2017, over 25 training sessions were provided to PCO’s 125 Section 34 managers to ensure that they understood their responsibility for their employees’ pay to be processed accurately. All managers received the training.  Subsequently, all new managers receive this mandatory training within their first weeks of joining PCO.  Every two weeks a reminder message is sent to managers to approve transactions in Phoenix and we are developing an updated training manual for our Compensation Liaison Support staff.

A number of other proactive measures have also been taken to identify and address issues faced by employees.  In February 2017, a telephone survey of all PCO employees was conducted to identify those employees who had experienced pay issues.  This enabled PCO to identify the main issues experienced by employees and we continue to work with the Pay Centre to address these.  In May 2017, PCO hired students to update employee information in Phoenix and PeopleSoft for benefits and pension purposes; there were errors in the employees’ pay files which prevented employees from accessing their appropriate benefits. We are proactively updating the Dental and Health Care Insurance information to ensure new employees’ coverages are accurate.

We have resolved the HR professionals pay under the PE occupational group who have had a reclassification or a promotion within the last year (Phoenix had miscalculated the salary increases and the salary revision following the implementation of the collective agreement which resulted in certain overpayments).

The reports generated by PSPC indicate that since May, PCO has seen an increase in rejected Pay Action Request Forms, ranging from 17 to 29Footnote 1 per month.  HR has put in place a checklist to ensure that all steps are followed and that pay documents are sent to the Pay Centre in a timely manner. Where transactions are rejected due to system issues, we work with the Pay Centre’s war room to identify and resolve these issues.

PCO generates a number of reports on a regular basis to ensure that issues and problems are identified and resolved:

  • We track arrivals to ensure their pay file is quickly transferred in Phoenix and in PCO’s PeopleSoft systems granting them access to Phoenix to input and approve leave and other pay related transactions such as overtime. The timely approval of these transactions reduces the risk of creating discrepancies in the empoyee’s pay file.
  • Acting assignments that started prior to June 2017 (date on which the new collective agreements took effect), were not processed correctly due to system limitations. We completed the corrections required in each file.
  • We track and resolve all outstanding cases that have been open for over 30 days in the Case Management Tool.
  • We track all outstanding emergency salary advances (ESA), priority payments and overpayment to ensure that they are being recovered.

Although these measures have helped to mitigate the impact of Phoenix on our employees, we have recommended to PSPC some additional actions that could be helpful, including:

  • Ensuring there is adequate training on Phoenix for all new and existing Compensation Liaison staff and new Pay Centre employees (they are not trained to do a number of transactions creating a siloed approach to resolving pay files).
  • Data is not yet available on the issues that are being raised by employees through the new Phoenix feedback forms.
  • The Pay Centre should advise new or returning employees (from leave without pay and maternity leave) that they can sign-up for their benefits on the Phoenix self-serve.

PCO remains committed to supporting you and PSPC to ensure that employees are paid accurately and on time, and will continue to take action to address the challenges.

Sincerely,

Andrea Lyon

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