Internal Audit (Follow-up) – Management of Discipline

Final Report

Audit, Evaluation, and Risk Branch

June 2017

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

Background

An integral part of creating an ethical workplace environment involves developing clear and consistent standards for addressing employee misconduct in the event that inappropriate behaviour occurs.

Paragraph 51(1)(f) of the Canada Revenue Agency Act authorizes the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to establish standards of discipline for its employees and prescribe penalties including suspension and termination of employment that may be applied to breaches of discipline or misconductFootnote 1.

The Internal Audit Division of the Audit, Evaluation, and Risk Branch (AERB) completed an internal audit of the Management of Discipline in May 2014 (see Appendix E). Opportunities for improvement were identified in the application, administration, and reporting of discipline. Action plans were developed to address the recommendations. The current internal audit was conducted as a follow up to the 2014 Management of Discipline audit.

Objective

The objective of this follow-up audit was to assess the extent to which selected internal controls in place are efficient, effective, and functioning as intended for the consistent and timely administration of discipline at the CRA.

Conclusion

As part of the planning phase of the follow-up audit, the completeness of the action plans from 2014 were assessed. That assessment contributed to a risk-based approach determining which internal controls to focus on during the audit. Of the 12 recommendations issued as part of the 2014 Management of Discipline Audit, 9 were addressed and 3 were partially addressed.

Subsequent to the 2014 Management of Discipline internal audit, internal controls have been strengthened in the areas of documentation of discipline files, timeliness of disciplinary decisions, and adequacy of the monitoring framework. Furthermore, internal controls are in place to support the consistent administration of discipline at the CRA. However, opportunities exist to enhance internal controls by:

  • communicating information to Labour Relations Advisors and other front line employees in the Human Resources Branch (HRB);
  • implementing consistent file monitoring practices to assess the extent of compliance to policy instruments and procedures;
  • reviewing the AC consultation process to clarify documentation requirements; and
  • ensuring increased managers’ awareness of requirements regarding employee notification when the discipline process cannot be concluded within 30 working days from the time when the employee received the completed investigation report or was made aware of the facts for which discipline is being considered.

Action Plan

The HRB agreed with the recommendations in this report and has developed related action plans. The Workplace Relations and Compensation Division will develop and implement a national quality review process of the discipline files, enhance communication practices with labour relation employees, develop a standardized process for AC consultations, increase management awareness of the 30-working day requirement and monitor documentation requirements. The AERB has reviewed management’s action plans and concluded that they are adequate and reasonable to address the recommendations.

Introduction

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has established and maintained broad systems of internal control to help mitigate the risks related to the achievement of program goals. Internal control activities are designed to provide reasonable assurance that particular objectives are achieved as intended and may be categorized by the type or nature of activity. It is important to understand that no one control measure alone can provide adequate assurance; rather it is their combination that provides strength in the internal controls.

Misconduct is definedFootnote 2 as a willful action or omission by an employee that contravenes an act, a regulation, a rule, the Code of Integrity and Professional Conduct, or a policy instrument, and which may result in disciplinary action. The relative seriousness of the misconduct depends on several factors. This includes the extent to which the misconduct renders the employee unable to perform his or her duties in an impartial or satisfactory manner, injures the general reputation of CRA and its employees, and breaches the trust that is essential to the employer-employee relationship.

An integral part of creating an ethical workplace environment involves developing clear and consistent standards for discipline. In December 2015, the CRA’s Directive on disciplineFootnote 3,in conjunction with the Policy on Workplace Management, replaced the 2011 Discipline Policy. The Directive on discipline is supplemented by the Procedures for addressing employee misconductFootnote 4.

Assistant Commissioners are responsible for ensuring that these policy instruments are implemented, monitored, and accessible to managers and employees.

The objectives of the Directive on discipline are three-fold:

  • to increase awareness and understanding of the CRA's management of misconduct and promote its established standards of discipline;
  • to ensure a fair, consistent, timely, and corrective approach to discipline; and
  • to deter employees from engaging in acts of misconduct.Footnote 3

The Directive contains a “Table of Disciplinary Measures” where acts of misconduct are assigned to a group associated with a suggested range of disciplinary measures (see Figure 1). The groups relate to the relative seriousness of the misconduct and the ranges help achieve consistency in the application of discipline. To determine the appropriate disciplinary measure within the range, it is mandatory to consider mitigating and aggravating factors and to consult with a Labour Relations Advisor (LRA). Mitigating factors are circumstances that may warrant reducing the disciplinary measure imposed, while aggravating factors may warrant the opposite effectFootnote 5.

Figure 1: Table of Disciplinary Measures (April 2016)

Misconducts are associated to a group with a range of disciplinary measures that reflects the relative seriousness with which the CRA views the associated misconduct.

Group 1 misconducts: disciplinary measures range from oral reprimand to 5-day suspension

Group 2 misconducts: disciplinary measures range from written reprimand to 10-day suspension

Group 3 misconducts: disciplinary measures range from 1-day to 20-day suspension

Group 4 misconducts: disciplinary measures range from 5-day to 30-day suspension

Group 5 misconducts: disciplinary measures range from 20-day suspension to termination

Disciplinary measures can fall outside the suggested range

To achieve a consistent management of the discipline process, the CRA introduced and defined formal consultation requirements in 2013 as part of the Procedures for Addressing Employee Misconduct. Files warranting a disciplinary measure that falls outside the range of suggested disciplinary measures require consultation with the Labour Relations Division (LRD) of the Workplace Relations and Compensation Directorate (WRCD) and, in some cases, the relevant Assistant Commissioner (AC).

The WRCD is the functional authority for labour relations and holds primary responsibility for the Directive on discipline and the related corporate policy instruments. It coordinates monitoring and reporting activities on incidents of misconduct related to disciplinary measures and coordinates communication and training material related to the Directive.

Since April 2016, the central point of contact for labour relations policies and programs has been the LRD. The division’s activities include providing advice, direction, and recommendations to senior management on the development and maintenance of the national labour relations policies and programs that aim to address employee misconduct through the application of disciplinary measures in cases where the employee’s behaviour was culpable.

Six regional Workplace Relations Centres of Expertise (WRCoEs) provide consulting services to managers in labour relations matters. As of April 1, 2016, the WRCoEs (Headquarters, Atlantic, Ontario, Pacific, Prairie, and Quebec) report to the Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Human Resources Branch (HRB) through their respective regional Director of Human Resources.

Focus of the Audit

The Internal Audit Division (IAD) of the Audit, Evaluation, and Risk Branch completed an internal audit of the Management of Discipline in May 2014. Opportunities for improvement were identified in the consistency, application, and reporting of discipline. Action plans were developed to address the recommendations and the IAD committed to initiating a follow-up audit in 2015-2016.

As part of the current audit, the status of the action plans from the 2014 audit was assessed and the audit scope for this audit was adjusted accordingly. The objective of this audit was to assess the extent to which selected internal controls in place are efficient, effective, and functioning as intended for the consistent and timely administration of discipline at the CRA.

Examination activities and interviews were conducted at five out of six WRCoE regional offices. The audit team also reviewed judgement samples of discipline files to test consistency in the disciplinary process and the completeness of discipline files. The file samples covered a wide range of misconducts by employees at various levels with disciplinary decisions made between April 1, 2014 and June 30, 2016. A focus was placed on the highest risk types of misconduct such as unauthorized access and disclosure. Appendix C provides details on the file selection methodology.

The examination phase took place from November 2016 to March 2017.

The audit was conducted in accordance with the International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing.

Findings, Recommendations, and Action Plans

As with other internal audits, the recommendations presented in this report only address issues of significance or mandatory requirements. Of the 12 recommendations issued as part of the 2014 Management of Discipline Audit, 9 were addressed and 3 were partially addressed. See Appendix E for a disposition of recommendations from the 2014 audit.

1.0 Program Management

1.1 Communication of policies and procedures

The CRA updates its discipline policy instruments and supporting tools on a regular basis. In December 2015, a new Workplace Management policy suite with 11 policy instruments was launched as part of the Human Resources Policy Renewal and Simplification Project. This included a new Directive on Discipline and modifications to the Procedures for Addressing Employee Misconduct to promote a corrective approach to inappropriate behaviour or misconduct. A comprehensive communication strategy was utilized to communicate these changes to employees.

Ongoing communication practices include monthly conference calls at the Assistant Director level and communication of information to LRAs using the Labour Relations Voice Newsletter. However, interviews with LRAs indicated that when it comes to ad hoc updates, LRAs were not always kept informed of the latest updates to tools and procedures or the reasons for the changes. Modifications to procedures, templates, and tools are communicated by the WRCD to management of the WRCoEs but the information is not always transferred to the front line employees. Although the WRCD maintains up-to-date documents and templates in SharePoint, LRAs find it more convenient to access these documents on their local shared drive.

Recommendation: The WRCD should ensure that updated tools and procedures are consistently communicated to and used by WRCoE employees.

Action Plan

The WRCD will ensure updates to tools and procedures, including the reasons for the changes, are communicated through continued quarterly communications with the Labour Relations (LR) community, such as conference calls, the “LR Voice” newsletters, and the HRToolZone.

Completion date: Completed

The WRCD will centralize all LR tools in the HRToolZone (CRA Wiki) and ensure the page for Misconduct and Discipline is well structured and organized (ex. folders for current and archive content).

Completion date: June 2017

The WRCD will send out a communication to Labour Relations Advisors to:

  • “follow” KnowHow pages specific to LR topics (ex. Misconduct and Discipline) and HRToolZone pages; and
  • “subscribe” to the What’s new in HR newsletter.

Completion date: June 2017

The WRCD will inform each regional WRCoE to update their respective distribution lists in HRToolZone on a quarterly basis.

Completion date: June 2017

1.2 Support and training tools

The 2014 Management of Discipline audit found that InfoZone was the first source of reference for CRA managers and employees and recommended that complete and comprehensive reference material and resources on all aspects of discipline be included in the Employee Corner on the Infozone. Recommendation #10 in Appendix E describes the corresponding recommendation, which was addressed.

Employee Corner topics have since been moved to the MyHR webpage. The MyHR page contains a link to the Discipline Toolbox. The Discipline Toolbox contains links to the Directive on discipline, the Procedures for addressing employee misconduct and the Guide for investigating misconduct.

Reference materials are supplemented with training tools which are available to employees and managers. The online course “Discipline–What you should know” presents information on discipline and is available to all employees. For managers, the online course “Discipline–Delegation for Managers” is available. The Canada School of Public Service (CSPS) has also recently introduced a three-day labour relations course for managers to replace the CRA-delivered course. The IAD concluded that the availability of information and training tools on the discipline process was adequate.

InfoZone’s information and training on the discipline process for managers are being reviewed to be more process-based rather than rules-based, as identified through a HRB-led consultation with managers. Those initiatives are works in progress.

1.3 Test on the consistent application of the Table of Disciplinary Measures

The Procedures for addressing employee misconduct state that “at each step of the disciplinary process, the manager must consult with a Labour Relations Advisor.”Footnote 6 When addressing misconduct, the delegated manager determines an appropriate disciplinary measure in consultation with the LRA. The disciplinary measure must take into account relevant jurisprudence as well as aggravating and mitigating factors. The Table of Disciplinary Measures provides direction for determining the quantum of discipline and helps ensure fairness and consistency with the disciplinary process.

In cases where the delegated manager decides to render a decision outside the range of what is suggested by the Table of Disciplinary Measures, the LRD must be consulted. Those additional consultation requirements are also required for highest risk discipline cases such as Group 4 and 5 misconducts, indefinite administrative suspensions pending the result of the investigation, and terminations. Consultation with the LRD helps ensure consistency of disciplinary decisions, and alignment with applicable jurisprudence. Consultation with an Assistant Commissioner or the Assistant Commissioner of the HRB is also required under some circumstances (see Appendix D for details on consultation requirements). Despite the consultation requirements, the delegated manager remains the decision making authority in rendering discipline.

Based on the IAD’s review of a sample of disciplinary decisions from all regions made between April 2014 and June 2016, decisions conformedFootnote 7 to the quantum of discipline suggested by the Table of Disciplinary Measures once mitigating and aggravating factors as well as applicable jurisprudence were taken into account.

1.4 Test of the completeness of discipline files

The Directive on Discipline and the Procedures for addressing misconduct policy instruments provide guidance on documentation standards. The Labour Relations Case File Checklist and the Manager’s Case File Checklist outline the documentation needed to ensure completeness of Labour Relations files.

During the 2014 Management of Discipline audit, a review of discipline files was undertaken to assess whether the files were complete and contained the necessary information to support actions taken. A judgement sample was selected, which included files from all regions and that corresponded to 25% of the file population for the period of April 1, 2009 to March 31, 2013. Sixteen criteria were selected to measure completeness in each file. The results of the file review are displayed in Figure 2 for the years 2009-2010 to 2012-2013. Recommendation #5 in Appendix E was issued for the HRB to ensure that Labour Relations files were complete and adequate.

WRCD addressed the recommendation through its action plan to introduce the Labour Relations Case File Checklist in April 2014. This checklist intended to supplement the Manager’s Case File Checklist, which had been in use since June 2011.

The IAD repeated the completeness test to determine if controls over completeness had improved since the last audit. The IAD took a judgement sample corresponding to 26% of the file population covering five of the six regions. The IAD used nine of the criteria that had been used in the 2014 audit and added twelve moreFootnote 8. The compliance rate calculated from the twenty-one criteria improved from 85% to 91% for the review period. This is a significant improvement in the overall compliance rate from the previous audit which had ranged from 55% to 65% (see Figure 2).

Figure 2: Compliance Rates of Discipline Files

Completeness Rate of Discipline Files (%)

2014 Audit

2009-2010: 55%

2010-2011: 56%

2011-2012: 61%

2012-2013: 65%

2017 Audit

2014-2015: 85%

2015-2016: 87%

2016-2017: 91% (Q1)

Although improvements are still possible, based on the file review and taking into account the improving trend, the IAD determined that discipline files generally contained the relevant information and documentation to support actions taken.

1.5 Documentation of consultation requirements

During the 2014 Management of Discipline audit, it was reported that consultation with LRAs was not always performed or documented on a consistent basis and that adherence to consultation requirements was not monitored as per the Discipline Policy. Recommendations #3 and #4 in Appendix E were partially met through improvements to discipline tools.

Using the sample for the test of the completeness of files, the IAD reviewed discipline files to determine whether the consultation requirement had been adhered to during the discipline process. Evidence of consultation was found in 91% of files which was a significant improvement from the findings of the 2014 audit. However, the documentation of the consultation with ACs was found to be inconsistent.

The delegated manager must consult with the AC when the following scenarios occur:

  • Discipline outside the range (excluding progressive discipline);
  • Cases of unauthorized access or disclosure of taxpayer information;
  • Discipline rendered for cases of abuse of authority resulting in reprisals towards taxpayers or threats of reprisals towards taxpayers; and
  • Resignations (subsequent to alleged misconduct or in lieu of discipline)Footnote 9.

The policy instruments and the related tools state who should be consulted and when, but they do not clearly state the documentation required for AC consultation.

Throughout the file review such documentation was inconsistent, in terms of the level of information shared with the AC as well as the format of AC’s concurrence with the proposed corrective measure. This documentation ranged from oral briefings to e-mail communications, with or without the briefing paper.

Clear documentation requirements for AC consultations would help ensure that the AC has all the information required on the employee’s misconduct to make an informed decision.

Recommendation: The WRCD should review the AC consultation process and clarify documentation requirements.

Action Plan

The WRCD will develop a standardized briefing note template for AC consultation.

The WRCD will implement the use of the standardized briefing note as part of consultation and documentation processes.

Completion date: March 2018

The WRCD will monitor the use of the standardized briefing note through the Quality Review process.

Completion date: September 2018

1.6 Quality review (QR) processes

The 2014 audit had found that an Agency-wide standard was not in place to ensure consistency in file documentation and records management. Therefore, recommendation #5 in Appendix E was made to establish clear national direction for documentation of files to ensure they are complete and adequate. This recommendation was partially addressed through the implementation of a checklist to strengthen the file management process. However, there are still no Agency-wide monitoring practices to ensure consistency in file management.

Discipline files are maintained and reviewed in the regional WRCoEs. During the examination phase of this audit, the IAD observed some form of file review in each of the regions visited. However, the nature and extent of QR, the accountability for review, and how QR results were documented varied from one region to another due to the absence of national guidelines. Local and regional QR results were often used to identify training opportunities for Labour Relations Advisors but QR information was not being compiled or shared with the WRCD for monitoring purposes. A standard, consistent, and continuous QR process that includes reporting activities is required to provide assurance that the discipline process is in compliance with the Agency’s Discipline policy instruments.

Recommendation: The WRCD should implement a national QR process of the discipline files to ensure the completeness of files and consistency of compliance with policy instruments, procedures, or tools across the regions.

Action Plan

The WRCD will develop and implement a national QR process of the discipline files, which will ensure completeness of files and compliance with policy instruments, procedures, or tools.

Completion date: September 2018

1.7 Monitoring framework

During the 2014 audit, recommendations were made to ensure data was captured consistently, analyzed, and reported back to management for decision-making. The HRB has addressed recommendations #7 and #8 in Appendix E by developing a monitoring frameworkFootnote 10 that is used to collect data on disciplinary measures, assess performance of the policy instruments, and identify gaps related to its application.

Monitoring of discipline across the Agency and the reporting of results to senior management is the responsibility of the LRD. Most of the monitoring information is collected through the Corrective Measures Reporting Template (CMRT) which was first introduced in 2012. A CMRT must be completed for every disciplinary measure and is sent to the WRCD at various stages in the discipline process.

The information collected is used for the completion of a number of reports (quarterly, annual, and semi-annual) for senior management. The IAD reviewed these reports and observed that WRCD is monitoring high risk areas such as the number of cases that did not meet the 30-working day requirement for rendering decisions, a list of reasons for not meeting the 30-working day timeline, information about cases going outside the range on the Table of Disciplinary Measures, and the number of grievance cases. The IAD found that through this combined reporting effort, discipline is being adequately monitored.

1.8 Timeliness of disciplinary decisions and notification requirements

The Procedures for Addressing Employee Misconduct states that following the disciplinary hearing, “the discipline process should be concluded within 30 working days from when the employee received the completed investigation report, or was made aware of the facts for which discipline is being considered.” The HRB Dashboard Target for this standard is that decisions be rendered within 30 working days 75% of the time.

Results from the 2014 Management of Discipline audit indicated that the 30-working day requirement to render discipline was not being met and the rationale for not meeting the requirement was not always documented. The corresponding recommendation, recommendation #6 in Appendix E, was partially met.

The IAD reviewed all disciplinary decisions for the period under review and found that the HRB Dashboard target was being met. In addition, the rationale for not meeting this requirement was also being documented for all files through the Corrective Measures Reporting Template and reported to the WRCD for monitoring purposes.

The Procedures for Addressing Employee Misconduct also specify that if the discipline process cannot be conducted within 30 working days from the time when the employee received the completed investigation report, or was made aware of the facts for which discipline is being considered, then the manager must inform the employee and the LRA, in writing, of the reason for the delay. A file review determined that this was documented in only 65% of files.

Recommendation: The WRCD should increase managers’ awareness of the requirement to notify employees and the LRA if the disciplinary decision cannot be rendered within 30 working days and to document this notification.

Action Plan

The WRCD will develop a job aid on KnowHow, to increase managers’ awareness of the 30-working day notification and its associated documentation requirements.

Completion date: June 2018

The WRCD is to reinforce regional LRAs role in reminding managers of the 30-working day requirement and to document the manager’s notification in their discipline files.

Completion date: October 2017

The WRCD will monitor the 30-working day notification and documentation requirements through the Quality Review process.

Completion date: September 2018

1.9 Management awareness of the disciplinary process

A recommendation from the 2014 audit was for the HRB to ensure awareness and understanding of the management of discipline for managers (recommendation #9 in Appendix E). The recommendation was addressed.

From February 2016 to June 2016, the HRB consulted with managers in the regions about human resources tools. Those consultations were carried out as part of the HR Modernization Tool Renewal and Simplification Project. Information on managers’ awareness of discipline tools and policy instruments was collected as part of the process. This information on management awareness was supplemented with the IAD interviews with labour relations staff. The following list summarizes the highlights of the consultations and the IAD work:

  • Managers were aware that Labour Relations is their first point of contact to handle discipline cases.
  • Managers were aware of the existence of the Table of Disciplinary Measures.
  • Managers were made aware of the documentation requirements through communications with the LRAs.
  • Managers were reminded of their obligation to communicate to employees facing discipline their rights and the availability of Employee Assistance Programs through communications with their LRAs.
  • Managers sought guidance on which tool to use when they were ready to use them (in real time) rather than becoming familiar with the policies and tools in place.

As a result of the consultation process, the HRB is in the process of developing learning sessions and just-in-time tools to complement the CSPS “Labour Relations Principles and Practices” course and the CRA Discipline e‑learning products (TD1527 and TD1509). The IAD assessed that management awareness of the discipline process was adequate.

Conclusion

The CRA is committed to sustaining a respectful workplace and a culture of integrity. CRA employees are held to a high standard of conduct and the CRA has implemented controls to help maintain this expected standard.

The completeness of the action plans from the 2014 Management of Discipline Audit were assessed: Of the 12 recommendations issued as part of the 2014 audit, 9 were addressed and 3 were partially addressed. Subsequent to the 2014 Management of Discipline audit, internal controls have been strengthened in the areas of documentation of discipline files, timeliness of disciplinary decisions and adequacy of the monitoring framework. However, opportunities exist to enhance internal controls by:

  • communicating information to Labour Relations Advisors and other front line employees in the HRB;
  • implementing consistent file monitoring practices to assess the extent of compliance to policy instruments and procedures;
  • reviewing the AC consultation process to clarify documentation requirements; and
  • ensuring increased managers’ awareness of requirements regarding employee notification when the discipline process cannot be concluded within 30 working days from the time when the employee received the completed investigation report or was made aware of the facts for which discipline is being considered.

The internal controls in place support the consistent and timely administration of discipline at the CRA. By addressing the findings from the audit, the Agency will strengthen its commitment to upholding the integrity of Canada's tax system.

Acknowledgement

In closing, the IAD would like to acknowledge, recognize, and thank the WRCD and the WRCoEs of the regions visited for their time and for the information and access to the files provided during the course of this engagement.

Appendices

Appendix A: Glossary of Abbreviations

The list below defines standard abbreviations used in this report:

AC Assistant Commissioner
CMRT Corrective Measure Reporting Template
CSPS Canada School of Public Service
HRB Human Resources Branch
IAD Internal Audit Division
LRA Labour Relations Advisor
LRD Labour Relations Division
QR Quality Review
WRCD Workplace Relations and Compensation Directorate
WRCoE Workplace Relations Centre of Expertise

Appendix B: Glossary of Technical Terms

The list below defines technical terms used in this report:

Term Definition
30-working day requirement If misconduct is founded, the manager should meet with the employee to render discipline within 30 working days from when the employee received the completed investigation report or was made aware of the facts for which discipline is being rendered. If delays are unavoidable, the delegated manager must inform the employee and the labour relations advisor in writing, of the reason for the delay and of when a final decision can be expected. Source: The CRA Directive on discipline Source: The CRA Procedures for Addressing Employee Misconduct
Aggravating factors Circumstances that may warrant increasing the disciplinary measure imposed within the suggested range provided in the Table of Disciplinary Measures. Source: The CRA Directive on discipline Source: The CRA Procedures for Addressing Employee Misconduct
Corrective measure A measure taken to remedy a situation. Source: The CRA Procedures for Addressing Employee Misconduct
Culpable Behaviour Culpable behaviour refers to inappropriate actions that are within the employee's control and occur as a result of deliberate and intentional action or inaction by the employee. Source: The CRA Procedures for Addressing Employee Misconduct
Disciplinary measure

The employer's response to misconduct. The goal of discipline is to deter employees from engaging in misconduct, and when misconduct does occur, to motivate the employee to correct their behaviour, and adhere to the expected standard of conduct (except in cases such as termination of employment).

Disciplinary measures can include an oral or written reprimand, suspension, financial penalty, demotion, or termination of employment. Source: The CRA Directive on discipline Source: The CRA Procedures for Addressing Employee Misconduct

Judgement sample The method of selecting a sample in which personal judgment plays a significant part, in contrast to a probability sample. Source: The United States General Accounting Office, Using Statistical Sampling, 1992.
Misconduct

A willful action or omission by an employee that contravenes an act, a regulation, a rule, the Code of Integrity and Professional Conduct, or a CRA policy instrument, and which may result in disciplinary action.

The relative seriousness of the misconduct depends on several factors. This includes the extent to which the misconduct:

  • renders the employee unable to perform their duties in an impartial or satisfactory manner;
  • is injurious to the general reputation of the CRA and its employees; and
  • breaches the trust that is essential to the employer-employee relationship.

Source: The CRA Directive on discipline Source: The CRA Procedures for Addressing Employee Misconduct

Mitigating factors Circumstances that may warrant reducing the disciplinary measure imposed. Source: The CRA Directive on discipline Source: The CRA Procedures for Addressing Employee Misconduct

Appendix C: Methodology

The Internal Audit (follow-up)—Management of Discipline was conducted as a follow up to the 2014 Management of Discipline audit. Opportunities for improvement were identified in the application, administration, and reporting of discipline. Action plans were developed to address the recommendations from the 2014 audit.

As part of the planning phase of the follow-up audit, the completeness of the action plans from 2014 were assessed. That assessment contributed to a risk-based approach to determine on which internal controls to focus during the audit.

Among the tests conducted during the examination phase, there were two tests that required IAD to review a sample of disciplinary decisions from a population of 642 decisions made between April 1, 2014 and June 30, 2016.

Test of the consistent application of the Table of Disciplinary Measures

A stratified sample of 26 files was taken from each region. A greater sampling weight was put on misconducts related to failure to protect information and CRA’s reputation. An additional 32 files were added to the sample. Those files consisted of the population of disciplinary decisions that were made outside the range of the Table of Disciplinary Measures. This resulted in a judgement sample of 198 disciplinary decisions.

Test of the completeness of discipline files

Site visits were required to test the completeness of files. The audit team visited five out of six regions. The sample used was identical as for the consistency test but excluded the files from the region that was not visited. A total of 169 files were reviewed to test the completeness of discipline files.

Appendix D: Consultation RequirementsFootnote 11

The following tables outline specific consultation requirements based on the circumstances of the case, and the nature of the required discipline. Generally, the consultations take place among stakeholders in the order of the steps listed below.

Step 1: Labour relations advisor's consultation requirements
Type of case Who is consulted
All group 4 and 5 misconducts Workplace Relations and Compensation Directorate (WRCD)
Discipline outside the range (excluding progressive discipline)
Indefinite suspensions
Suspensions of 10 days or more
Disciplinary demotions
Terminations
Financial penalty
Resignations (subsequent to alleged misconduct or in lieu of discipline)
Step 2: Delegated manager’s consultation requirements
Type of case

Who is consulted
Discipline outside the range (excluding progressive discipline) AC of the respective branch or region is consulted for advice and guidance; an agreement is obtained in writing.
Cases of unauthorized access or disclosure of taxpayer information

Discipline rendered for cases of abuse of authority resulting in reprisals towards  taxpayers or threats of reprisals towards taxpayers

For these cases, proposed decisions must be approved in writing by the AC of the respective branch or region.

Resignations (subsequent to alleged misconduct or in lieu of discipline)

Step 3: Workplace Relations and Compensation Directorate consultation requirements
Type of case Who is consulted
Discipline below the range for unauthorized access or disclosure Assistant Commissioner, Human Resources Branch
Resignations (subsequent to alleged misconduct or in lieu of discipline)
Discipline rendered for cases of abuse of authority resulting in reprisals towards taxpayers or threats of reprisals towards taxpayers

Depending on the nature of the case, steps may need to be repeated, and some consultations may take place simultaneously to ensure the decisions are rendered in the most efficient manner. Therefore, labour relations advisors may modify the flow of the consultations, on a case-by-case basis, to effectively manage their cases.

Appendix E: Disposition of Recommendations from the 2014 Audit

The 2017 Internal Audit (follow-up)—Management of Discipline determined that of the 12 recommendations issued as part of the 2014 Management of Discipline Audit, 9 were addressed and 3 were partially addressed. The table below shows the relationship between the recommendations from 2014 and the recommendations from 2017.

2014 Internal Audit Management of Discipline 2017 Internal Audit (Follow-up) – Management of Discipline
Recommendation Section Reviewed Results
1) HRB should undertake a risk assessment exercise to evaluate risks associated with the management of discipline. 2.3 Risk management Previous recommendation was addressed.
2) HRB should clearly communicate expectations as outlined in the Discipline Policy regarding the requirement for LR consultations in discipline cases. 3.3 Requirement to consult with LR advisors Previous recommendation was addressed. New recommendation issued: The WRCD should ensure that updated tools and procedures are consistently communicated to and used by WRCoE employees.
3) HRB should ensure that LR discipline files clearly document the consultation between the manager and labour relations advisor. 3.3 Requirement to consult with LR advisors Previous recommendation was addressed.
4) HRB should monitor LR discipline files to ensure and report on adherence to consultation requirements as outlined under Discipline Policy. 3.3 Requirement to consult with LR advisors Previous recommendation was partially addressed. New recommendation issued: The WRCD should review the AC consultation process and clarify documentation requirements.
5) HRB should establish and implement clear national direction for documentation of files in accordance with the nature of the files to ensure that LR files are complete and adequate. 3.4 Documentation Previous recommendation was partially addressed. New recommendation issued: The WRCD should implement a National Quality Review (QR) process of the discipline files to ensure the completeness of files and consistency of compliance with policy instruments, procedures, or tools across the regions.
6) HRB should communicate the importance of meeting the 30-working day requirement and to document the rationale when the requirement is not met. 3.5 Compliance with the 30-working day requirement in rendering discipline Previous recommendation was partially addressed. New recommendation issued: The WRCD should increase managers’ awareness of the requirement to notify employees and the Labour Relations advisor (LRA) if the disciplinary decision cannot be rendered within 30 working days and to document this notification.
7) HRB should develop and communicate a comprehensive set of performance measures to ensure that complete and useful information is available for management decision-making. 4.2 Performance measures and reporting Previous recommendation was addressed.
8) HRB should ensure that appropriate and accurate data are captured consistently to enhance data integrity and facilitate analytical efforts for trends and patterns. 4.2 Performance measures and reporting Previous recommendation was addressed.
9) HRB should implement feedback mechanisms that will provide the Agency with information from managers' perspectives to assess the effectiveness of planned efforts taken to ensure awareness and understanding with the management of discipline as outlined in the Discipline Policy and Procedures. 5.1 Communications Strategy Previous recommendation was addressed.
10) HRB should ensure that the Employee Corner on InfoZone provides complete and comprehensive reference material and resources on all aspects of discipline including avenues for reporting of misconduct. 5.2 Communication of guidance and resources Previous recommendation was addressed.
11) FAB/SIAD should consult with HRB LR and create a formal communication protocol that outlines roles, responsibilities, and accountabilities. 6.1 Compliance with the 45- and 120-calendar day standards Previous recommendation was addressed.
12) FAB/SIAD should enforce the standards they have established for completion of investigation files, and monitor and report upon compliance with the standards. 6.1 Compliance with the 45- and 120-calendar day standards Previous recommendation was addressed.
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