What happens when your employer can’t pay you…for months?

Apparently,  if you’re the Government of Canada,  not a thing.

Last winter the federal public service migrated over to a new pay system called Phoenix.

An utterly laughable name when you consider that this move has caused pay problems for approximately 80K public service employees.   Phoenix is an IBM product btw.

Pay problems such as not being paid at all,  not receiving disability pay,  and getting paid after they leave.

The last problem isn’t a pressing one (until they come to collect that).

But imagine going for months without getting paid.  You’re still expected to work,  its just that your pay cheque might be a bit late…like months and months and months late.

You can read about how sorry government official are about this mess here.

While comments on stories like this are largely sympathetic,  it didn’t surprise me to see a few talking about how lazy public sector employees are over paid,  and they don’t really deserve to be paid.   One guy went so far as to say how happy he was reading about other people suffering because of this.

I’ve said this before.  I’ve worked private and public sector jobs.  Yes,  public sector benefits are amazing,   but I’ve worked significantly harder in the public sector than the private.

In the private sector,  if I did well I was rewarded with things like cash.

In the public sector I’d be lucky to receive an atta-boy.  Performance bonuses?   Hahahaha..yeah,  right.

When needed,  we’d work through lunch,  work late,  come in early and the best we could hope for in return was a “Hey thanks!”.

Why is it that there are so many people out there who think that public sector employees don’t take pride in their work,  care about the quality of their work,  and their professional reputations?

Oh wait,  I know…because some customer-facing public sector worker couldn’t do something for them not because it was against the rules and the individual didn’t want to risk getting fired for doing it,  but because they were lazy and entitled.

But I digress…

Most of us know what it’s like to be broke.  To wonder how you’re going to stretch out the few groceries you have to last,  to spend your last $10 on dog food so they don’t go without,  and to trying to decide which bills you absolutely must pay,  and which you hope can wait.

Most of know how utterly devastating that stress is.  The constant, pervasive thought…”If we can only make it to pay day!”

Now put yourselves in the shoes of employees who aren’t being paid at all because of this Phoenix fiasco.   Not knowing when pay day is going to happen.

On top of that,  your bosses keep telling you that they’re working on fixing the problem,   and that they’re sorry….and oh hey,  you can call the minister’s office to complain!

They are in fact hiring a lot of people to get the problem fixed.   I wonder if those people are getting paid.

One of my question is,  why aren’t they hiring a lot of people to manually track people’s hours and write them a physical cheque every two weeks??

Oh yeah…it will add a TON of work to catch up with everything.  It will cost a lot of money too.

But it would show their employees that the public service’s priorities aren’t out of whack….that ensuring their people are cared for (as in being paid on time) is important.

Because right now….while I’m hearing them say it…I’m not seeing much evidence of that.




Apparently a poor credit score means that you’re likely going to steal from your employer….

Its been a very long time since I posted a rage post….and this is a good topic to rage about…

Apparently the use of credit checks in pre-employment screenings is on the rise.

We’re not talking just jobs where people handle money.  The linked article above mentions that even Tim Horton’s workers have reported the requirement to submit to credit check during the recruitment process.

The article refers to an email from a TransUnion spokesperson Clifton O’Neal which states:

One study found a job applicant with a troubled financial history was almost twice as likely to engage in theft as an applicant who lacked any financial history issues,”

You have to sign up to the website in order to read the study in detail,  however,  denying someone a job using such subjective and controversial data,  based on a single study is reprehensible.

Its made even more so by the fact that the same company,  while testifying in Oregon in 2007 said:

“At this point, we don’t have any research to show any statistical correlation between what’s in somebody’s credit report and their job performance or their likelihood to commit fraud,” government relations director Eric Rosenberg said at the time.

One has to wonder how much revenue these pre-employment screening checks generate for the credit reporting bureaus who tout their efficacy for weeding out thieves during the hiring process.

As one whose had credit issues in the past, I find it galling that anyone would factor a credit history into determining one’s character.

This would be especially true when you consider that many job seekers are unemployed,  many for extended periods of time.

You need a job to pay your bills,  you lose your job,  fall behind on your bills,  which causes you to not be able to find a job.

In that scenario,  who loses out?   The job seeker, absolutely,

The creditors (those other clients who rely on credit bureaus) also lose…because if a person can’t find a job because of a poor credit rating,  their creditors are not going to get paid back.

It seems to me that the extension of their client base only benefits the credit bureaus.   After all,  if an employer has to keep running credit checks for the same position, until they find a satisfactory one,  who gets paid for those repeated reports?

The employee doesn’t benefit at all,  because they’ve had a potential employer leafing through their financial history.

The employer might think they’ve avoided a bad hire,  but that might be a false sense of security.

Are there any studies that show that a good credit score is an indicator that someone WON’T steal?   Maybe they live beyond their means, but were smart enough to start stealing from their employers BEFORE their bills came due.

I also have to wonder if people who think this is a good idea have ever had issues with dealing credit issues.

How many of us have found erroneous, and derogatory entries on our credit report?

How many  of us have been faced with the option of paying a creditor sometimes hundreds of dollars to satisfy an invalid debt,  simply to remove it from a credit report?

How many of us have refused to do this as a matter of principal?

I’ve encountered all these things,  and while we are assured that there are mechanisms in place to deal with such matters,  it is a daunting task which must be repeated for all the major credit bureaus.

Then there is the matter of information making it onto your credit report that is false?

You can (and should) periodically review your credit report from each of the major bureaus.

You can get a free credit report from TransUnion through the mail (snail mail).

For just under $17/mo you can get unlimited access to your credit report as well as notifications of activity on your account.

Here’s a link.

Other credit bureaus have similar deals.

So,  you can get a free report through the mail,  but it costs money to get a copy of your credit bureaus almost instantly, electronically.

I guess Transunion pays its servers more than who ever it is who physically prints and mails these things out.

But I digress…

In today’s age of identity theft, and unethical collection practices,  credit monitoring is very important,  and the monthly cost (multiplied by the number of credit bureaus you open an account with),  could save you a lot of money and headaches in the future.

Having said that,  I have to ask…

Why are consumers forced to pay credit bureaus to monitor their own accounts for suspicious activity?

When you consider how credit bureaus are now profiting from employers using their services in order to screen applicants for positions that don’t involve handling money,  I have to question if such a service is even ethical.

Credit bureaus are providing a service to employers that make is essential that any job-seeker subscribe to these credit monitoring services.

These same credit bureaus provide such monitoring services,  to consumers,  for a fee.

In my opinion there is a clear conflict of interest.

This leads me to my next point:

It is relatively easy for a business to pull your credit report,  or file a derogatory incident with credit bureaus

I had that happen to me once when I did subscribe to monthly monitoring.

A business I had never heard of did a hard hit on my bureau.   By hard hit,  I mean a query that indicates that I had applied for credit.

I saw the email, and contacted the bureau in question (not TransUnion in this case).

I was told by the credit bureau’s customer service agent that,  (and this is a quote):

You will have to take it up with business in question.

So,  this company that collects sensitive data on millions of ordinary people,  and provides said data to anyone who says that they have your permission failed to act when notified of a fraudulent query.

I did follow up and discovered that the business had acquired another company with whom I did have an account (in good standing),  and that the query was “human error”.

That doesn’t excuse the reporting agency’s apathy in dealing with a privacy breach.  (This happened before I became intimately familiar with PIPEDA).

A logical question here is:

Why is it that with today’s technology there isn’t a mechanism that would allow a bureau to directly request a consumer’s permission to release credit information instead of relying on the business to honestly indicate that they have permission to do so?

As far as I can tell,  credit bureaus don’t sanction businesses that run afoul of the rules,  and ruin people’s credit in doing so.

The point I’m making here is that if the credit bureaus are going to provide services that will make it more difficult for people to find jobs,  then they have a duty to strengthen consumer protections.

When you consider this case,  where a guy was awarded $21K  by the courts because Bell TV ran a credit check without permission,  it would be safe to say that if things don’t change on their own,  litigation may force some sweeping changes.

The crux of the matter is best illustrated in this quote from the article:

“In this day and age, when we often can’t meet face to face, how do you determine someone’s character? We do it through looking at their past history and see how they’ve paid back debt,” Nadim Abdo, Equifax’s client solutions vice-president, said in 2013.

So, this Equifax guy is obviously under the impression that someone’s debt repayment history is a great indicator of someone’s character.

Apparently a quick credit check more accurate and objective than spending 20 to 60 minutes calling a person’s professional references and asking about what kind of individual the applicant is.

For many professional positions,  you could simply use Google or one of the other search engines out there.

Of course,  you could always refer to the criminal record check that is done alongside the pre-employment credit check.   A criminal record is a pretty good indicator as to whether or not someone is a criminal.

It won’t surprise many of you to hear that I have a big problem with that too.   Especially with The Harper Government making it harder and more expensive to get a pardon…but I’m not going down that road here.

What is boils down to is sheer laziness.

Recruiters who agree with Nadim Abdo’s statement above are really in the wrong profession.    If you can’t meet face to face with a candidate and can’t form an opinion of their character by doing some basic research,  but instead rely on a credit report (which may or may not be accurate),   are you really hiring the best candidate?

I can imagine that there will always be companies that forego this check.

If I’m right, and the ideal candidate you reject because of their credit history might end up working for your competition,  while you hire the second or third, or fourth best candidate because they’ve got a better credit score.

What employer would fair better in the long run in such a situation….

Here’s a hint….not yours.