Feds paid out 4.3 million compensation hours over Phoenix pay system troubles

Over 179,000 hours of leave awarded to workers

Feds paid out 4.3 million compensation hours over Phoenix pay system troubles

The federal government distributed nearly 4.3 million compensation hours to workers affected by the Phoenix pay system woes, according to a recent report. That amounts to more than 179,000 days of leave.

Ottawa handed out the most hours resulting from the snafu to the following departments:

  1. Canada Revenue Agency - 477,549.5
  2. Correctional Service Canada - 387,768
  3. Department of National Defence - 321,266
  4. Health Canada - 217,840
  5. Public Services and Procurement Canada - 206,931.5
  6. Employment and Social Development Canada - 187,863
  7. Fisheries and Oceans Canada - 186,058.5
  8. Office of the Secretary to the Governor General - 178,012.5
  9. Environment and Climate Change Canada - 156,773.5
  10. Global Affairs Canada - 147,930

In 2020, the federal government selected SAP for a pilot to test a potential HR and pay solution. The following year, Ottawa launched a claims process to compensate employees represented by the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) who suffered severe personal or financial impacts as a result of issues with the Phoenix pay system.

Current workers were granted up to five days of leave, according to data obtained by CBC.

Specifically, they got two days of leave for the 2016 and 2017 fiscal years, and one day of leave between 2017 and 2020.

The days of leave would have been credited to the workers’ annual leave bank after they filed a claim. To receive the leave, an employee needed to have worked for at least one day of the year they applied for.

Meanwhile, employees who no longer worked for the government were paid the cash equivalent, according to the CBC report.

TBS stopped tracking the compensation hours on June 8, 2022, as "over 99%" of the claims have been received, according to the CBC report.

‘Significant pay errors’

Seven years after the exposure of the problems with the Phoenix pay system, the problems still persist, according to PSAC.

“Since Phoenix was launched in 2016, there hasn’t been a single pay period without significant errors. Not one,” Chris Aylward, national president, said in February.

“Behind every pay problem is a frustrated government worker at their wits’ end after going weeks, months, and even years without their employer fixing their pay issues. Without confidence in the pay system, federal workers continue to suffer at the hands of the broken pay system. Careers are put on hold, retirees wait years for their files to be fixed and public service workers even worry about taking maternity or parental leave for fear of being ‘Phoenixed’.”

Officials at the top public servant at the department that oversaw the troubled Phoenix payroll tried to get to the root causes of issues with the new system in 2016. 

In December that year, the Phoenix pay system was blamed for one of the biggest workplace fundraising campaigns in Canada falling short of its $19-million goal.