# 2015-120 - Reserve Force, Specialist Pay

Reserve Force, Specialist Pay

Case Summary

F&R Date: 2015–11–16

The grievor, a Medical Technician/Physician Assistant (Med Tech/PA) who transferred from the Regular Force (Reg F) to the Reserve, is contesting recovery of a salary overpayment.

In May 2011, the Director Pay Policy and Development (DPPD) updated on the DPPD intranet website the standing list of military occupations authorized to collect specialist pay, including those in the Reserve. The grievor's occupation was erroneously listed and was assigned an effective date of October 1, 2010. The grievor collected specialist pay for a period of Class B service while he was assigned to a position in a recruitment centre which required a physician assistant qualification. On August 15, 2012, the commanding officer of 1 Canadian Field Hospital in Ottawa told the grievor that specialist pay had not, in fact, been authorized for physician assistants in the Reserve, adding that this was a mistake on the part of the DPPD, who had since removed the list from the intranet website. The grievor was further told that his pay would be adjusted to the new standard and that the process of recovering the overpayment since October 2010 would be initiated. The grievor submitted that his counterparts in the Reg F, assigned like him to recruitment centres, receive the specialist pay and that he was entitled to the same treatment. He claims that the DPPD's administrative mistake is seriously disadvantaging him, and he is asking for the recovery not to be applied.

Acting as Initial Authority (IA), the Director General Compensation and Benefits (DGCB) ruled that the grievor's occupation never (legitimately) appeared on the list of military occupations entitled to specialist pay. The IA hence concluded that the specialist pay received by the grievor since October 2010 had been paid without authority and should therefore be recovered.

The Committee determined that the grievor's occupation (Med Tech/PA in the Reserve) did not appear on the 2008 nor the 2010 listing of military occupations authorized by the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) to receive specialist pay, and still does not appear on the current standing list available on the National Defence/Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) intranet website. The Committee specified that specialist pay is not authorized on the basis of the position held by the grievor, nor his qualifications, but according to the combined requirements of his military occupation in the Reserve. Thus, strictly in the light of the applicable policies and the details in the grievance file, the Committee took the view that the fact that the grievor could have been employed in a position where a Regular Force counterpart would get specialist pay does not ipso facto make the grievor eligible for specialist pay.

However, the information given to the Committee by the CAF shows that this military occupation, whose numbers in the Reg F are in any case limited, was under great strain from April 2006 to March 2013 because of the pace of operations, especially in support of overseas efforts. Consequently, there were a number of vacancies in the Reg F. Given the strain on the occupation and the primacy of operations, several former Med Tech/PAs in the Reg F, who had opted for transfer to the Reserve, were reassigned to vacant positions in Canada that were deemed essential. The information given to the Committee also indicates that this practice was current during that period to staff Med Tech/PA positions at Canadian Forces Recruiting Centres. Thus, it is undeniable that Reserve Med Tech/PAs were brought in to meet the increased operational pressure on their Reg F colleagues that was stretching the occupation. Having built up this capacity in the Reserve, the CAF used this personnel to profit from the inherent advantages associated with their designation as Med Tech/PA. In other words, the positions thus staffed required more than a Med Tech, they called for the skills of a PA.

The Committee concluded that, though paid in accordance with policy for the reasons explained above, the grievor had been disadvantaged and that the CDS should grant him specialist pay for periods of full-time Reserve service since he joined the Reserve in March 2010 and during which he occupied a Med Tech/PA position normally staffed by a counterpart from the Reg Force.

The Committee recommended that the CDS uphold the grievance and accede the grievor's application for redress.

FA Decision Summary

The FA agreed with the Committee's findings and recommendation that the grievor receive the specialist pay for his class B service between 1 January 2010 and 23 March 2012, when the grievor was taking over a Reg Force position. The FA stated that he saw a flagrant inequity in cases where a Res F Med Tech – PA with the Reg F qualification occupied a Reg F position that required the Reg F qualification and yet could not receive the corresponding Spec Pay. He noted that the CDS had already ordered the CMP to retroactively add the Res F Med Tech – PA trade to the approved list of occupations in Specialty Group 1 from 1 January 2010 to the end of the mission in Afghanistan.

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