A Phoenix victory: government to delay recovery of overpayments, emergency pay
In response to pressure from PSAC, the federal government has finally agreed to halt recoveries of overpayments, emergency salary advances (ESA) and priority payments until employees’ pay files have been cleared of all outstanding transactions. This means employees will receive any and all funds they are owed before they must reimburse the employer for any overpayments or emergency pay.
“Many of our members who received overpayments have also been underpaid, are missing entitlements, or are owed retro pay from the collective agreements signed last year. That is why PSAC has been pushing for a whole-person approach to pay files before beginning any recoveries. Thanks to the hard work of our members and our union, the government is finally listening,” said PSAC National President Robyn Benson. “However, we will need to hold their feet to the fire to ensure this commitment is fully implemented on the ground.”
No recovery of an overpayment (including ESA and priority pay) is to commence until an employee’s pay file is completely reconciled; namely, until the employee’s pay problems, such as incorrect or no pay, have been resolved.
New approach to recovery of emergency pay
Recovery of ESA and priority pay will now be treated the same as the recovery of overpayments, and will have the same flexibility under the new directive in the Terms and Conditions of Employment. The goal is to end the hardship being caused by the recovery of emergency salary advances and priority payments.
Until now, most departments have been instructing the pay centre to recover ESA or priority pays from the employee’s next pay cheque, as per the existing directives. This has resulted in many employees being caught in a cycle of needing to access emergency pay time and time again because pay problems are often not resolved by their next pay cheque.
“We are disappointed it took so long for the government to be convinced that their standard directives on recovering emergency pay were problematic in the era of Phoenix,” said Benson. “That said, we are relieved to see them finally making these much-needed changes. PSAC and our members will now need to be vigilant in holding the employer to account when it comes to these recoveries.”
PSAC strongly urges its members who are accessing emergency pay to speak to their section 34 manager about the changes to how recovery will be done for ESA and priority pay.
Flexibility of recovery
When overpayments are discovered, employees will be notified in writing. However, recovery should not begin until the following criteria has been met:
- All monies owed to the employee has been paid out.
- The employee experiences three stable pay periods.
- A reasonable repayment plan has been agreed to by the employee.
The same applies to the recovery of emergency salary advances and priority pay.
PSAC members who face problems as a result of recoveries should immediately contact their steward, pay advocate, local executive, component or their nearest PSAC regional office.