New claims process for staff affected by Phoenix pay failure

By on 10/02/2020
Ottawa: Canadian government has promised compensation for losses arising from Phoenix’s failures. (Photo by kassiopela, Pixabay).

A new claims process for federal employees affected by the troubled Phoenix payroll system has been launched by the Canadian government. 

The new compensation scheme is being implemented “in recognition of the financial impacts that the Phoenix pay system has had on public servants,” the government said.

Current and former employees will now be able to claim reparations for severe financial losses and lost investment income. This will “help individuals who cashed in investments such as [Registered Retirement Savings Plans], missed opportunities to earn interest on savings accounts, or experienced delays in receiving their severance, pension or pay and were not able to earn interest on those sums.”

Half pay

Almost half of the public service workforce, totalling more than 140,000 staff, experienced issues such as incorrect or late payments following the disastrous rollout of the Phoenix pay system in early 2016.

A 2018 Senate committee report looking into the scandal found the problems had caused “significant anxiety, stress and hardship” for thousands of employees. “By any measure, the Phoenix pay system has been a failure,” the committee concluded.

The new claims process is the latest addition to the Phoenix Damages Agreement co-developed with federal public service unions in June 2019. Eligible staff were awarded compensation in the form of annual leave over the summer of 2019, and in November 2019 a process was introduced allowing former employees to claim compensation.

The government is still working on the remaining elements of the joint agreement, they said, “namely additional compensation for those who experienced severe personal or financial hardship, and those who took leave for health reasons related to Phoenix issues.”

A big clear-up

Commenting on the new claims process, Jean-Yves Duclos, president of the Treasury Board, said public servants deserved to be paid properly for their important work. “We are determined to provide fair compensation to employees and former employees who suffered severe financial losses because of issues resulting from the Phoenix pay system.”

Work is underway to scrap Phoenix and replace it with an entirely new system. Announcing the appointment of three tech vendors to test the options for a new system last summer, Joyce Murray, president of the Treasury Board and minister of digital government, said: “We have learned the lessons of the past and have radically changed the way we are pursuing a modern, user-friendly and mobile HR and pay solution.”

About Natalie Leal

Natalie is a freelance journalist whose work has been published by The Sun Online, The Guardian, Novara Media, Positive News, and Welfare Weekly, among others. She also writes reports and case studies on global business trends for behavioural insights agency, Canvas8. Prior to working as a journalist Natalie worked for the public sector in social services for several years. She switched careers in 2013 after winning a fully funded NCTJ in a national writing competition. She holds a Masters degree in social anthropology from Sussex University where she specialised in processes of social change and international conflict and reconciliation processes.

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