AccountabilityE-governmentGovernmentHRProcurementTechnology
July 28, 2016

Phoenix pay problems could stretch to end of October

MPs in Ottawa are now holding a meeting to discuss how to handle the Phoenix fiasco.

July 27 was pay day some federal public workers that finally received their pay cheques after the release of their salaries were bungled by faulty automated payroll systems. However, it was learned yesterday that many of the 80,000 public servants affected by the troublesome Phoenix payroll system may have to wait until the end of October this year to have their problems sorted out.

Meanwhile, a day after Public Services Minister Judy Foote toured the government’s pay centre sites in Miramichi, MPs in Ottawa are now holding a meeting to discuss how to handle the Phoenix fiasco.

Last week, Public Services and Procurement Deputy Minister Marie Lemay said that more than half of the 720 government workers who did not receive their salaries due to bugs in the system will be compensated on July 27.

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The Government of Canada website today showed a schedule for resolving the pay issues.

The schedule divided the employees into three groups:

Priority 1: Employees not receiving pay

These employees include students, new hires and those returning from leave without pay.

Timeline

These employees’ cases will be addressed within three working days upon notification of the issue.

Status

Between June 27 and July 18, 720 employees reported that they had not received any pay. Of the 720 employees, 486 received a payment on the July 27 payday. We expect that 172 will be paid on August 10.

Between July 18 and 28, an additional 589 employees reported missing pay. We are addressing 210 of these cases, with the objective of paying these employees on August 10. We are working with departments to resolve the remainder of employee cases.

Priority 2: Employees with pay at risk of disruption

These employees include those going on maternity leave or long-term disability and those leaving the public service.

Timeline

These employees’ cases will be addressed within four to six weeks upon notification of the issue.

Status

As of July 18, approximately 1,100 employees have reported issues related to compensation. We have addressed 74 cases and are processing the remainder as quickly as possible.

Priority 3: Employees not being paid properly

These employees are receiving regular pay, but missing supplementary pay.

Timeline

All cases that are backlogged with the Pay Centre prior to June 2016 will be addressed by October 31, 2016.

“This represents approximately 79,000 employees,” the online notice said. “These cases are being handled through our Temporary Pay Unit in Gatineau, Quebec, while our staff in Miramichi, New Brunswick, handle new day-to-day pay requests and Priority 1 and Priority 2 cases.”

The Phoenix payroll system’s origins can be traced back to 2009 when the Tories launched a program to replace the 40-year-old public payroll system and consolidate all the work in Miramichi.

In 2011, IBM Canada was awarded the $141 million contract to develop and implement a new payroll system to be delivered by 2016.

The Phoenix system went live on February 24, 2016, for 34 government departments. However, problems of employees either being underpaid, overpaid or not paid at all began cropping up in April that year.

Public service unions began complaining that workers were being stressed out with dealing with the problems and backlogs caused by Phoenix.

Public service unions called for a delay of expanding the rollout to 67 more departments. But on May 4, all 290,000 public service employees were paid through Phoenix and more problems began surfacing.

By June 17, Foote calls the Phoenix problem unacceptable and calls on the Auditor General to investigate the issue.

Later that month, a dozen federal government workers’ unions filed a notice of application in Federal Court to compel the government to pay its workers properly and on time.

About this author

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Nestor Arellano

Nestor is a Toronto-based journalist who specializes in writing about technology and business. He is the editor of Vanguard Magazine and the associate editor of IT in Canada and a regular contributor to CGE.

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