$2,500 lump sum payments: Some members are experiencing issues

During the last round of negotiations in the federal public service, PIPSC Groups* secured a $2,500 lump sum payment applicable to all members of the AFS, IT, SP, RE, and NR bargaining units** employed when their agreement was signed. The lump sum was pensionable for members in the AFS, NR and IT Groups, whereas for members in the SP, and RE Groups, the lump sum was non-pensionable. 

Several of the PIPSC agency Groups, like the NEB, NRC-RO/RCO, NRC-IS, NRC-LS, NRC-TR, OSFI, and NUREG also negotiated a lump sum payment.

It has come to our attention that this payment has been clawed back for some members who were receiving Employment Insurance benefits when they received the lump sum. This most notably applied to employees who were on parental or maternity leave. It may also apply to members who were on leave without pay due to illness or injury and who were receiving EI sickness benefits. 

Misinterpretation of the payment 

This clawback occurred for some members because Employment and Social Development Canada interpreted the lump sum payment as additional income when these members were receiving EI benefits. Specifically, the issue lies with the Commission’s categorization of the lump sum payment as a “signing bonus” rather than as a payment for the performance of regular duties and responsibilities for periods when the employee was actively employed, not on leave. 

PIPSC maintains that this interpretation is not in line with what was intended or negotiated at its various tables. Indeed, the $2,500 lump sum payment was replicated from across the federal public sector, specifically from the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) and the Canadian Association of Professional Employees (CAPE), where the language explicitly specifies that recipients are entitled to the lump sum for the performance of regular duties and responsibilities for the period when they were actively working, not while in receipt of EI benefits. 

Recently, a member of CAPE successfully challenged the interpretation of the EI Commission to the Social Security Tribunal of Canada. Unfortunately, the Commission has appealed this decision. 

The appealed decision of the Social Security Tribunal of Canada found that “the true nature of the employer’s payment… was for services performed before she began maternity leave and claimed Employment Insurance.” It also ruled that “the Canada Employment Insurance Commission incorrectly identified this money as a signing bonus and allocated it to a week during the [member’s] EI claim.”

What to do if you’ve already been impacted by this 

If you have been affected by this issue, submitting a Request for Reconsideration of an Employment Insurance (EUI) decision is crucial. In Section 3 of the form, “Reason for Request for Reconsideration,” please use the following information: 

The $2,500 one-time lump-sum allowance was not a ratification signing bonus. The $2,500 lump-sum allowance was received by all federal public service employees as part of a global compensation package for the performance of duties, not signing of the collective agreement. Indeed, the payment was for performance of duties before I went on leave and started collecting EI benefits. When money is paid for performance of services, the money should be allocated under s. 36(4) of the EI Regulations to the period before my leave began. 

There is a time limit of 30 days to request a reconsideration. However, EI allows extensions under certain circumstances. If it’s already been 30 days since you received this decision, you can request an extension by saying you were gathering information about what the payment was for from your union. If you receive a denial on the reconsideration, you have 30 days to appeal to the Tribunal.

Note for members who have received EI benefits 

Some members may not have been notified of this situation yet. If you were receiving EI benefits at the time your collective agreement was ratified or in the months before the lump sum payment was issued, you may still be contacted in the future for repayment.  

Review your EI statements, monitor your account, and follow the steps above if you receive the request for repayment. 

* The Health Services (SH) Group and Commerce and Purchasing (CP) Group have not reached tentative agreements; bargaining is ongoing. 

** RCMP Civilian Members (CM) who are pay-matched to PIPSC bargaining units at IT, SP, RE, or NR have also received a lump sum payment and may be impacted.