Phoenix

Over 200,000 workers and their families are still suffering financial and emotional fallout from the Phoenix pay system disaster. The Public Service Alliance of Canada’s (PSAC) top priority is to end this nightmare for federal public service workers. PSAC currently has an entire website dedicated to helping members with Phoenix related problems and how you can get help or take action.

Recently USJE has appointed one Labour Relations Officer whose sole role is to review and process Phoenix related grievances and to assist with other possible recourse such as “Claims for Out-of-Pocket expenses”.This officer will be supporting USJE RVPs and Local Presidents in working to help resolve as many claims as possible as quickly as possible.

If you need more information or support on your Phoenix pay grievance, please contact your Local President or Local Executive member. If they are not able to help, please contact your Regional Vice President.

Overall Changes

The 2016 instructions from USJE were to file grievances and place them in abeyance at the first level. Unfortunately, Phoenix has not been replaced or fixed as originally anticipated in 2016. Recently PSAC has encouraged its components to take the grievances out of abeyance and start processing the grievances as per the process outlined in the collective agreement, which includes documenting skipped levels and extensions of timelines (abeyance).

Another thing that has changed is the suggested grievance wording, specifically the Corrective Action, as we have been able to confirm that interest and damages (if not related to discrimination) cannot be achieved through the grievance process for Phoenix pay grievances.

For more information, please see below.

GRIEVANCES

USJE is operating in the following manner with the majority of the departments we represent:

Phoenix pay related grievances should be heard at one of the lower levels (we recommend level 1) in order to collect information and documentation. Employees are expected to provide supporting documentation, such as email correspondence with their supervisor about the issue, correspondence with the Pay Centre, Track Changes information, as well as any and all Pay Actions Requests (PARs). It is understood that local management may not be able to resolve the issue at the first level, a response will be provided and then the grievance can be transmitted to the final level with the required signed transmittal form and an agreement in writing that the second level is being skipped.

To file a Phoenix-related grievance, it is extremely important that you have all the necessary documentation to argue the losses that you have suffered. The documents include, but are not limited to: pay stubs, work records, receipts, bank statements indicating overdraft or other charges or penalties, credit card statements, letters from landlords indicating areas which will demonstrate:

  • What payments should have been made, in what amounts, and on what dates;
  • When payments were made, in what amounts, and when they were made;
  • How specifically the delay contributed to financial difficulties such as interest charges or penalties;
  • Your efforts to seek priority payments from their departments must also be included in the documentation, with evidence of requests and evidence of any refusals.
  • For those citing the No Discrimination Article, the grievance documentation should establish clearly how the employer’s failure to pay on time and accurately is related to one of the prohibited grounds of discrimination.
Suggested Grievance Wording
  • I grieve that the employer has violated Article _______ (insert pay, overtime or allowance article number from your Collective Agreement), and any and all other relevant articles and Appendices of the Collective Agreement, related legislation, and policies by failing to pay me accurately, on-time, or by repeatedly failing to pay me accurately and on-time for the work I have performed, as per the employer’s usual practice (i.e. bi-weekly, by direct deposit).
  • I grieve that the employer has failed to resolve my compensation issues by failing to pay me properly for the work I have performed.

If the employer’s failure impacts members in a group protected under the Canadian Human Rights Act

  • The employer has violated the No Discrimination Article of the Collective Agreement and related policy and legislation including but not limited to the Canadian Human Rights Act by discriminating against me by the improper provision of pay and/or by failing to accommodate me on the basis of my disability.

NOTE: Discrimination is an action or a decision that treats a person or a group negatively for reasons such as their race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, family status, genetic characteristics, disability and conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted as per the CHRA. Only grievances demonstrating discrimination based one of the prohibited grounds contained in the CHRA and/or the No Discrimination clause of your collective agreement may be referred to adjudication. An example of a potential grievance would be a member who is on a gradual return to work but is not being paid on time may have difficulty with the return to work due to a lack of funds to pay for transportation, food, maintain shelter etc.

Corrective Action

I request

  • That the employer compensates me immediately for any and all salaries, monies, leave and benefits lost as a result of the employer’s actions or inactions;
  • Any and all other remedies deemed just in the circumstances; and
  • That I be made whole

For those claiming discrimination only

I request

  • That the employer fulfills its duty to accommodate me by accommodating _________ (identify restrictions, examples: my disability, family status, religious obligations, etc.);
  • That the employer compensates me immediately for any and all salaries, monies, leave and benefits lost as a result of the employer’s actions or inactions;
  • Any and all other remedies deemed just in the circumstances;
  • Damages pursuant to Subsection 53 of the Canadian Human Rights Act; and
  • That I be made whole.


CLAIMS FOR OUT-OF-POCKET EXPENSES

We have previously identified that we need you to demonstrate the efforts you have made trying to resolve your pay issues. It is also very important that if you have incurred financial expenses because of pay problems, you submit a claim. The Government of Canada has provided this resource, regardless if we feel it is adequate or not, it is important to use it when applicable. Each department should have a claim’s officer to help with the claims process. If a claim is refused a separate grievance related to that denial could be filed.

There are four types of claims available to be claimed:

1)Out-of-pocket expenses such as interest charges or late fees;

2)Reimbursement for tax advice;

3)Request and advance of government benefits, such as the Canada child benefit;

4)Claims for impacts to income tax and government benefits; If you were owed salary from one year that was only paid the following year (for example, salary from 2017 paid to you in 2018), 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.

WHO TO CONTACT FOR T4 ISSUES

The CRA assesses your income based on the T4 provided by your employer. If you have any questions regarding the preparation and filing of your T4, and you are or were being paid by a department served by the Public Service Pay Centre in Miramichi, please contact the Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) Call Centre at 1-855-686-4729. If your department is not served by the Public Service Pay Centre, contact your department’s compensation services. For more information from PSPC regarding tax slips go to Accessing and managing your tax slips.You can find Frequently Asked Questions for 2016, 2017 and 2018 Tax implications of Phoenix Payroll issues by searching same, as an example “2018 tax implications of Phoenix”.

PROPOSED LEGISLATIVE CHANGES IMPACTING OVERPAYMENTS

On January 15, 2019, the Government released proposed legislative changes that will generally allow employers who make an overpayment of salary in error to recover the income tax, CPP contributions, and EI premiums withheld and remitted on the overpayment from the CRA. This will allow employees to repay employers only the net amount instead of the gross amount as is currently required when the salary overpayment and repayment are made in different years.

What does this mean for you?

If you have been overpaid in a previous year, and the overpayment is not yet recorded in Phoenix your overpayment calculation may qualify under the new legislation.

If your situation qualifies under the proposed legislation and the above criteria, the income tax, EI and QPIP will be adjusted on your previous year salary overpayment once it is recorded in the Phoenix pay system.However, PSPC will not run the overpayment calculation process and amended tax slips for overpayment amounts reported for 2016, 2017 and 2018 until the legislation changes have been implemented in Phoenix.

Since the PSPC is not running the overpayment process, the compensation advisor will not be able to advise you of the amount of your overpayment until the legislation changes are implemented and PSPC runs the overpayment process in Phoenix. Amended tax slips will be issued after the proposed legislative measures have been implemented and the overpayment process is run in Phoenix.

If you are a resident of Quebec, please see Finance Quebec’s Information Bulletin 2019-1, Harmonization with news release 2019-004 of the Department of Finance Canada.