Mr. Speaker, employees deserve to be paid properly and on time. Supporting employees facing pay issues and stabilizing the pay system remains a top priority.
While there is still work left to do, the government has taken significant steps to resolve pay issues. We have made steady progress in decreasing the backlog of transactions, improving processes, strengthening and increasing capacity, and providing enhanced services to employees calling the client contact centre.
The government is proposing new measures to support employees who carry the burden of having to repay overpayments due to no fault of their own. These measures will build on our commitment to minimize the financial impacts of Phoenix on employees and fix this unacceptable problem that we inherited from the Conservatives. The government’s proposed measures would allow employees to repay their employer only the net amount of overpayments received in the previous year. As a result, affected employees would generally no longer have to bear the burden of recovering these deductions from the CRA and repaying them to their employer.
In regard to (a), federal employees' pay is never put on hold, including when employees have an overpayment. Overpayments are usually the result of late processing in the Phoenix pay system and can result from the following situations: an employee’s acting pay did not stop when their acting assignment ended; an employee is, or was, on leave without pay and their pay was not stopped; or an employee received pay that they were not entitled to receive.
In early March 2018, the government implemented additional flexible measures to help minimize the financial impact and hardships to employees for the repayment of overpayments related to Phoenix pay system issues.
Recovery of overpaid amounts does not begin until all monies owed to the employee have been paid, the employee has received three consecutive correct pay cheques and a recovery agreement has been established.
Additionally, the government has ensured that employees facing pay issues can request emergency salary advance or priority payments.
For more information, individuals can refer to https://www.tpsgc-pwgsc.gc.ca/remuneration-compensation/services-paye-pay-services/systeme-paye-employes-pay-system-employees/trop-payes-overpayments-eng.html.
With regard to (b), 223,173 employees have had an overpayment recovered from their pay between April 1, 2016, and January 31, 2019. The last day of January 2019 was used as a point of reference to provide a month-to-month breakdown.
Members should note that this number includes overpayments that remain in progress for certain employees, in accordance with the individual employee’s recovery agreement. In addition, this number is comprised of true and technical overpayments. However, the Phoenix pay system currently cannot segregate true overpayments from technical overpayments. True overpayments are created in situations where employees receive pay to which they were not entitled. For example, this occurs when an employee’s termination or leave without pay, for example, parental leave, is entered after the pay period of their departure date. Technical overpayments are created to adjust pay and ensure employees receive the pay to which they were entitled. For example, this occurs when an employee’s acting assignment is entered after the pay period in which the acting assignment began. Technical overpayments are typically netted out in the next pay period. They do not have a negative impact on employees. They are entered to offset a payment adjustment and are seamless to the employee.
With regard to (c), producing this information would require manual work that cannot be completed within prescribed timelines.