Archived: Response from National Research Council of Canada

From: Public Services and Procurement Canada

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November 9, 2017

Mr. Michael Wernick
Clerk of the Privy Council Office
Privy Council Office
Room 1000
85 Sparks Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A3

Dear Mr. Wernick:

Thank you for your letter of November 2, 2017 requesting information on the actions taken within the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) to stabilize the pay system and ensure our employees are paid accurately and on time.

In this regard, please note that NRC has retained a dedicated compensation team to process pay and benefit transactions for its employees and as such is a direct entry organization to the Phoenix pay system.

With respect to the actions taken for NRC transition to Phoenix on April 21, 2016, I would note that a great deal of preparation for the changeover was undertaken by our Compensation team. This involved participating in training and orientation sessions to understand the changes and adjustments required and to share and exchange information to those directly interfacing with Phoenix as well as providing regular updates to employees. A joint approach to deal with any pay issues proactively was developed with NRC Labour Relations and our Finance team. This included the review of pay reports prior to scheduled pay days in order to identify any instances where employees would not be receiving their regular pay cheques on scheduled pay days. In all such cases, employees were contacted and advised of the option to obtain emergency salary advances and action was taken to provide such advances wherever requested. By proceeding in this manner, all employees who requested salary advances had their pay deposited in their accounts either on the regular pay day or very shortly thereafter. Communication also occurred with NRC bargaining agent representatives on a regular basis to inform them of any issues and actions being taken to ensure pay continuity without the need for formal complaints or grievances.

During the first few pay periods following transition to Phoenix, NRC experienced an average of three to five employees requiring emergency salary advances. As our Compensation team became even more adept at working with Phoenix, the number of cases requiring salary advances was reduced to one or two cases per pay period. In our most recent pay period, one salary advance was required.

As noted on the most recent NRC Dashboard provided with your correspondence, NRC Compensation has given priority attention to the processing of student pay with the result that there are no open cases or pay issues over 30 days old for the 127 students working at NRC.

On an ongoing basis, our Finance team works closely with responsible managers to monitor salary and benefit transactions to ensure that actuals and forecasts are well managed. Any discrepancies are identified, investigated and remediation action is taken as required.

Apart from our experience with regular pay, our NRC team remains focused on other pay and benefits actions requiring attention such as ensuring pension actions are updated and that overpayments are addressed. There are also some issues with the processing of employee transfers and terminations. These are our most significant backlog issues as noted on the most recent dashboard which we are working to stabilize and resolve. Given our priority to manage regular pay transactions effectively, attention and reductions in our backlog issues will continue to take time.

I would also like to note the additional challenge that NRC will be facing shortly concerning the implementation of the many pay revisions being negotiated for all NRC collective agreements and compensation plans. These pay revisions, which must be implemented within legislated pay implementation periods, will become extremely challenging as most of our collective agreements will likely be concluded before the end of the fiscal year. The NRC will pay particular attention to ensuring that pay revisions do not result in undue delays in payments to staff

Throughout this transition period, it has been important for NRC to be proactive in replacing compensation advisors who have departed over this period of time by hiring temporary or part-time resources to step in for those leaving and to assist during periods of heavy workload. This will continue to challenge us as there is very limited availability of qualified and experienced compensation specialists. I might add that our ability to manage the pay system challenges is largely attributable to our dedicated Compensation team that has remained focused on providing high quality pay service to our employees which we have recognized with appropriate NRC awards.

I would also note that various members of our Human Resources team continue to participate in the government-wide work that is occurring to stabilize the pay system. Communication between our colleagues on the various working groups and committees to stabilize the pay system has improved and will continue to be essential as we proceed to address our backlog issues and future pay revisions.

Again, thank you for the opportunity to share this information with you. Let me assure you of NRC’s commitment to work together with our colleagues to meet the pay system challenges.

Yours sincerely,

Iain Stewart
National Research Council of Canada

1200 Montreal Rd
Ottawa ON K1A 0R6

cc: Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister, Innovation, Science and Economic Development;
John Knubley, Deputy Minister, Innovation, Science and Economic Development;
Les Linklater, Associate Deputy Minister, Public Services and Procurement Canada;
Anne-Marie Smart, Chief Human Resources Officer, Treasury Board Secretariat;
Yaprak Baltacioglu, Secretary of the Treasury Board, Treasury Board Secretariat;
Catrina Tapley, Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet (Operations), Privy Council Office

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