Federal employees going without full pay due to system error

Rena Patrick, of Quadra Island, works casually as a Relief Lighthouse Keeper, and has been for eight years now. After battling a serious illness this Spring she took a shift in May.

At the time she needed the money and because of errors in the federal governments newly implemented Phoenix pay system she hasn’t been paid for those hours.

Last month she took another shift and should have been paid $3,000 for her time, so far she has received about $1,200. The lack of funds coming in is affecting her ability to run her tow truck business.

“When our truck needs repairs we haven’t had the money to do the repairs because I have only been getting a third of what I have been earning,” Patrick said. “We are basically losing money from both.”

Patrick has reported the issues both to her manager as well as to Public Service and Procurements Canada through the feedback system that they have created to keep track of all of the cases. She also contacted her MP, Rachel Blaney.

“Some workers need to prove they are in financial default to get priority in order to get paid,” Blaney said in a press release. “How twisted and unethical can this get? It’s embarrassing that the Canadian government is not meeting these basic obligations.”

Blaney is not the only MP dealing with this situation. There are around 24,500 reported employee cases of pay issues that have not been dealt with as of Sept. 21, 2016, according to a press release from the Ministry of Public Services and Procurement Canada. The cases have been prioritized into three categories, according to the ministries website. Priority one and two cases are dealt with first and on an ongoing basis. Priority one cases are employees not receiving any pay. These include students, new hires and those returning from leave without pay. According to the website these cases are normally addressed with two pay periods after notification of the issue. As of July 18 there were 720 cases, over the next nine days there were 589 new cases.

That number has been steadily declining. Between Aug. 24 and Sept. 7 there were only 59 new cases, compared to 69 during the previous two weeks.

Priority two cases are employees with pay at risk of disruption. These employees include those whose pay has been affected by going on maternity leave, long-term disability or those exiting the public service. These cases are usually addressed within six weeks of notification.

There were 1,100 reported cases as of July 10, 2016, nine days later there were 926 more cases. That number has also been decreasing. Between Aug.24 and Sept. 7 there were 335 new cases, compared to 314 new cases during the previous pay period.

Priority three cases are employees not being paid properly. These are employees who are receiving regular pay but missing supplementary pay. The ministry’s goal is to have these cases resolved by Oct. 31. As of Sept. 7 there were 67,500 backlogged cases, according to the ministries website.

“There are some people in our riding that have not been paid in multiple months,” Blaney said. “There are some people in our riding that have not been paid any of their over time. There are some people in our riding who have not been paid their full wages.”

The new pay system was implemented earlier this year.