Pay overview for the military

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Factors determining pay

Comparability

Comparability is when the dollar per hour worked for the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) is equal to the dollar per hour worked for the Public Service.

The Department of National Defence and the Treasury Board Secretariat adopted the principle of comparability between the CAF and the Public Service when the CAF was combined into one group. Comparability was added as a factor in determining pay so that:

  • CAF members benefit from the results of collective bargaining
  • the federal government acts as the employer for the CAF and the Public Service
Team concept

The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) uses a rank-based team concept or institutional approach to determine pay. In this method, pay is calculated based on the average value of the work performed by all members of a specific rank level. This is different from the more common Public Service method where an individual is paid based on the worth of their position.

In some cases, some military occupations are considered separately from the majority of CAF members due to market factors. These occupations include:

  • Medical Officers
  • Dental Officers
  • Legal Officers

Even though these occupations are considered separate from other jobs in the CAF, the team concept is still applied within these special occupation groups.

The team concept is used as much as possible due to the nature of the military's work. It may be difficult to calculate when comparing the CAF to non-military organizations that use an occupational or job-specific approach.

Total compensation analysis

Total compensation analysis ensures that the full value of compensation and benefits made available by the employer to federal public servants is considered in negotiations with unions. It also determines the dollar value of the unique aspects of service.

The method includes salary, but also evaluates benefits such as:

  • pension
  • severance pay
  • acting pay
  • overtime
  • medical and dental services
  • time not worked, for example annual leave and sick leave

This analysis compares the compensation and benefits available to one group of employees to that of another group. The analysis provides a net value, which is the dollars paid per hour actually worked for one group of employees, compared to the net value of the dollars paid per hour actually worked for a different group. Pay increases or decreases in a given year is the percentage difference between these two values.

Military factor

The military factor puts a value on the major characteristics of military service. The unique aspects of military service such as the Code of Service Discipline, separation from family and postings are not easily quantifiable.

The military factor was originally valued at 4% of the salary for all Regular Force Non-Commissioned Members and General Service Officers. After a recent review of the methodology, the military factor has been updated to compensation military members more precisely for their unique experiences in the Regular Force and Reserve Forces.

The 5 categories of the military factor and their descriptors are:

  1. Personal limitation and liability: compensation for the military service requirement for member to give up certain personal freedoms that civilian Canadians enjoy (applicable to Regular and Reserve Force).
  2. Imposed separation: compensation for the separation forced upon members by operational requirements such as deployments (applicable to the Regular Force only as Reserve Force members on Class A or B service are deployable on voluntary basis only).
  3. Posting turbulence: compensation for the turbulence that comes from uprooting family and regularly moving as part of your employment in the CAF (applicable to the Regular Force only as Reserve Force members on Class A or B service are not posted).
  4. Acting pay: compensation for times when you are required to perform the role of a superiour while under ranked (applicable to Regular and Reserve Force except for the ranks of Colonel + as they are benchmarked off the Public Service Executive which does not receive this factor).
  5. Overtime: compensation for times when members are required to work extra hours due to operational requirements. (applicable to Regular and Reserve Force except for the ranks of Colonel and higher as they are benchmarked off the Public Service Executive which does not receive this factor).

As of April 1, 2019, with the change in calculation methodology for Reserve Force pay, the military factor is now applicable to both elements and its current values are represented in the tables below by rank grouping.

Regular Force
military factor
Non-Commissioned Member General Service Officer Colonel to Lieutenant-General

Personal limitation and liability

1.50% 1.50% 2.50%

Imposed separation

2.50% 2.50% 2.00%

Posting turbulence

4.70% 4.70% 2.00%

Acting pay

0.51% 0.66% 0.00%

Overtime

6.00% 4.00% 0.00%

Total

15.21% 13.36% 6.50%
Reserve Force 
military factor
Non-Commissioned Member General Service Officer Colonel to Lieutenant-General

Personal limitation and liability

1.50% 1.50% See Note 1

Imposed separation

0.00% 0.00% See Note 1

Posting turbulence

0.00% 0.00% See Note 1

Acting pay

0.51% 0.66% 0.00%

Overtime

6.00% 4.00% 0.00%

Total

8.01% 6.16% See Note 1

Note:

1. The military factor for Reserve Force Colonel to Lieutenant-General is currently under review to determine applicable levels – in the interim, their new rates of pay have been benchmarked off the Reserve Force General Service Officer and Non-Commissioned Member total salary (base pay + military factor) of 92.8% of Regular Force pay. 

Pay groups

Non-Commissioned Members

Pay rates for non-commissioned members are determined through total compensation analysis. Each rank receives automatic annual pay increases which recognizes advancements in experience, skill and knowledge. These increases are called pay increments (PI).

There are 3 sub-groups for non-commissioned members. Pay rates vary in each sub-group:

  • Standard
  • Specialist 1
  • Specialist 2

Specialist 1 and Specialist 2 sub-groups include trades such as Fire Control Systems Technicians, Flight Engineers, Biomedical Electronics Technicians, and Marine Engineering Artificers. These jobs are very complex and require skills that are in high demand in the private sector.

General Service Officers

General Service Officers are officers below the rank of Colonel in all occupation groups except for Pilots and Specialist Officers (Legal, Medical and Dental Officers). Pay rates for General Service Officers are also determined through total compensation analysis and include pay increment increases like non-commissioned members.

Officer ranks tend to have more pay increments than non-commissioned member ranks. This is because it takes longer to gather the experience, skill and knowledge required to receive the job rate maximum for their rank.

Pilots

Pilots are paid General Service Officer rates plus a pilot differential that is recognized by private sector market factors.

Senior Officers (Colonels and above)

Officers (other than Legal, Medical and Dental Officers) at the rank of Colonel and General Officer are paid based on direct benchmarks to the Public Service's Executive Category. The benchmarks are set through job analysis so that Senior Officers receive the same pay and benefits as their Public Service counterparts.

Legal Officers

Canadian Armed Forces Legal Officers (except Military Judges) are paid based on direct benchmarks to the Public Service's Law Group.

Military Judges

Military Judges are paid based on the recommendations of the Military Judges' Compensation Committee. They also require the approval of both the Minister of National Defence and the Treasury Board.

Medical and Dental Officers

As of April 1, 1999, the total compensation analysis for Medical and Dental Officers is based on the compensation given to private practice practitioners.

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