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Federal government hiring process - can you negotiate vacation?

  • Last Updated:
  • Dec 8th, 2017 9:34 am
Member
Oct 14, 2015
219 posts
73 upvotes
Markham, ON
1000islands wrote:
Dec 1st, 2017 3:33 pm
If private sector is so much better, why people consider going to the fed.? Is private sector really not secure? and pension not goo?
Money is not everything. People work for less money and less benefits in public in return for better work life balance

It's a myth that public sector is more secure for employment, that's long gone. People disappear and get "released" all the time, even long tenured people with decades of service
[OP]
Newbie
Nov 26, 2017
5 posts
2 upvotes
1000islands wrote:
Dec 1st, 2017 3:33 pm
If private sector is so much better, why people consider going to the fed.? Is private sector really not secure? and pension not goo?
There's so many factors to weigh because they both have their pros and cons. In some industries, the government gives better pay than the private sector. (See http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/private-se ... -1.2292650) Right now, pensions are almost non-existent in the private sector. In terms of security, it is true that there is less turnover in government. It's not a myth, it's a fact. Some 0.5-1% of all employees in my company get fired each month! But that's just an anecdote, the data backs it up too. Government jobs aren't 100% secure, no job is, but it's a lot more secure than the private sector, on average. However, the jobs can be more exciting and dynamic in the private sector. It really depends on your industry and your profession and personal choice.
Deal Addict
Jul 4, 2004
3727 posts
339 upvotes
Ottawa
I work for the Federal Government and although I'm always annoyed with my lower salary vs the private sector, financially, in the end, it's really a good place to work.

I was with the private sector for about 20 years before joining the FedGov and I'm just about to complete my 8th year with the FedGov and I'm just now back to the same salary (although I still get 1 week of vacation less) than I was 8 years ago with private company (who had a lot of financial difficulties and wasn't a particularly high paying employee) and FedGov salary increases are typically only about 1% / year. One way you can increase your salary with the Gov is by getting jobs at higher classifications but because I want to keep doing technical work, that's not really not option for me.

That said, job security, work / life balance and the pension are HUGE advantages.

Short of criminal activity, I don't think you can really get fired from the FedGov. They might terminate your position but they'll find you something else. As a manager, there's pretty much nothing you can do if you have staff that doesn't produce work (whether because of incompetence or because of laziness or whatever. You can write them up but the reality is that nothing will happen).

Work / life balance is great - unlike the private sector, there really is no expectation of "putting in the hours". It doesn't mean that, depending on your role, you might not be asked to do overtime but you will be compensated very generously for it. In the private sector, you are expected to meet deadlines - doesn't matter if the deadlines are realistic, you're expected to get the work done. In the government, you are expected to be at your desk 37.5 hours per week. If you are given a task that someone says should take a week do to, you work on it for a 37.5 hours and if it's not done, you go home and work on it the next week and so on ... It's also usually very easy to make arrangements around family requirements (e.g. missing work because of doctors appointment, picking up kids for whatever, etc).

Financially, the defined benefit pension is huge bonus. I don't regret having gone to the private sector initially but one of my regrets was not having taken a pay cut earlier to go to the Government sooner. I think the pension is worth about a 30-40% pay increase (you can't really put an exact value on this since a well managed RRSP will grow faster than the Gov pension so if you are 35 years from retirement, you don't need as much of an increase to build it up. I'm probably 13 years away from retirement so I would probably need to double my salary for the next 13 years to match what I'd make with the pension). (It's also not quite a fair comparison; the pension is indexed and is forever but it only "partially" survives you (e.g. If I retire at 60 and live to 120, I will collect the pension for 60 years. When I die, if I'm survived by a spouse, she'll get half my pension until she dies and if my kids are still in school full time, they'll get some of it until they are 25. (A know an retired former-judge (so he has a very generous pension) that keeps joking that he'll marry an 18 year old so that she can collect the pension after he dies). If I die early, part of the pension does get paid out to the estate but it's a lot less. With RRSPs, you either have to save enough that when in retirement, you never touch the capital and only live off the interest (which is much easier said than done) or you have to predict how long you live so that you don't run out of money before you die (and the reality is that many people are so worried about this that they die with much of their savings untouched). However, whatever you save up will stay with your estate (e.g. if you have $2 mil in RRSPs, you can will the whole $2 to your spouse or children or cat or church or whatever ...)
[OP]
Newbie
Nov 26, 2017
5 posts
2 upvotes
That's a great perspective, Michelb. I appreciate you sharing that.

In my case, I've been in the private sector for 10 years and I don't really need to take a pay cut to join government (probably because my company is struggling and they haven't been giving many pay increases over the years). But I agree the pension alone just knocks the compensation comparison out of the park. I will no longer have to put $800+ of my monthly salary towards an RRSP which will be a BIG windfall for me (10% of my gross salary!). I'll keep what I have saved already in my RRSP for my spouse if I die first to help compensate for half the missing pension. I'm also looking forward to working normal hours, as I technically work overtime every day as it is. Lots to look forward to!!

But I'm going to miss working with an amazing, bright group of high-performers. If you're not a high-performer with a good attitude, you get let go; so we're left with some amazing, brilliant workers. There are definitely advantages to "less stability"! We were able to accomplish a lot together. The work is varied and interesting too which is great. Like I said, there are pros and cons. But I'm ready to move on and try something different!
Member
Aug 8, 2010
377 posts
37 upvotes
michelb wrote:
Dec 6th, 2017 9:16 am
I work for the Federal Government and although I'm always annoyed with my lower salary vs the private sector, financially, in the end, it's really a good place to work.

I was with the private sector for about 20 years before joining the FedGov and I'm just about to complete my 8th year with the FedGov and I'm just now back to the same salary (although I still get 1 week of vacation less) than I was 8 years ago with private company (who had a lot of financial difficulties and wasn't a particularly high paying employee) and FedGov salary increases are typically only about 1% / year. One way you can increase your salary with the Gov is by getting jobs at higher classifications but because I want to keep doing technical work, that's not really not option for me.

That said, job security, work / life balance and the pension are HUGE advantages.

Short of criminal activity, I don't think you can really get fired from the FedGov. They might terminate your position but they'll find you something else. As a manager, there's pretty much nothing you can do if you have staff that doesn't produce work (whether because of incompetence or because of laziness or whatever. You can write them up but the reality is that nothing will happen).

Work / life balance is great - unlike the private sector, there really is no expectation of "putting in the hours". It doesn't mean that, depending on your role, you might not be asked to do overtime but you will be compensated very generously for it. In the private sector, you are expected to meet deadlines - doesn't matter if the deadlines are realistic, you're expected to get the work done. In the government, you are expected to be at your desk 37.5 hours per week. If you are given a task that someone says should take a week do to, you work on it for a 37.5 hours and if it's not done, you go home and work on it the next week and so on ... It's also usually very easy to make arrangements around family requirements (e.g. missing work because of doctors appointment, picking up kids for whatever, etc).

Financially, the defined benefit pension is huge bonus. I don't regret having gone to the private sector initially but one of my regrets was not having taken a pay cut earlier to go to the Government sooner. I think the pension is worth about a 30-40% pay increase (you can't really put an exact value on this since a well managed RRSP will grow faster than the Gov pension so if you are 35 years from retirement, you don't need as much of an increase to build it up. I'm probably 13 years away from retirement so I would probably need to double my salary for the next 13 years to match what I'd make with the pension). (It's also not quite a fair comparison; the pension is indexed and is forever but it only "partially" survives you (e.g. If I retire at 60 and live to 120, I will collect the pension for 60 years. When I die, if I'm survived by a spouse, she'll get half my pension until she dies and if my kids are still in school full time, they'll get some of it until they are 25. (A know an retired former-judge (so he has a very generous pension) that keeps joking that he'll marry an 18 year old so that she can collect the pension after he dies). If I die early, part of the pension does get paid out to the estate but it's a lot less. With RRSPs, you either have to save enough that when in retirement, you never touch the capital and only live off the interest (which is much easier said than done) or you have to predict how long you live so that you don't run out of money before you die (and the reality is that many people are so worried about this that they die with much of their savings untouched). However, whatever you save up will stay with your estate (e.g. if you have $2 mil in RRSPs, you can will the whole $2 to your spouse or children or cat or church or whatever ...)
Thank you so much for sharing. I didn't know that.
Is it true that there is a one year probation period for a new hire in the Fed? Just curious. Now that I am really concern about that. I have proven myself to be a very competent employee over the years.
Deal Addict
Jul 4, 2004
3727 posts
339 upvotes
Ottawa
jacolantern wrote:
Dec 6th, 2017 9:35 am
That's a great perspective, Michelb. I appreciate you sharing that.

In my case, I've been in the private sector for 10 years and I don't really need to take a pay cut to join government (probably because my company is struggling and they haven't been giving many pay increases over the years). But I agree the pension alone just knocks the compensation comparison out of the park. I will no longer have to put $800+ of my monthly salary towards an RRSP which will be a BIG windfall for me (10% of my gross salary!). I'll keep what I have saved already in my RRSP for my spouse if I die first to help compensate for half the missing pension. I'm also looking forward to working normal hours, as I technically work overtime every day as it is. Lots to look forward to!!

But I'm going to miss working with an amazing, bright group of high-performers. If you're not a high-performer with a good attitude, you get let go; so we're left with some amazing, brilliant workers. There are definitely advantages to "less stability"! We were able to accomplish a lot together. The work is varied and interesting too which is great. Like I said, there are pros and cons. But I'm ready to move on and try something different!
Keep in mind that you don't have to save for your RRSPs but you'll get your pension deductions removed at the source. My pension contributions are about 10% of my gross pay.

It can be frustrating to work in the Government too. Obviously it varies but typically, you don't work with cutting edge stuff. In contrast to what you mention, you do have to work with some people that don't know what they are doing and / or don't care about the job.
Deal Addict
Jul 4, 2004
3727 posts
339 upvotes
Ottawa
1000islands wrote:
Dec 6th, 2017 12:04 pm
Thank you so much for sharing. I didn't know that.
Is it true that there is a one year probation period for a new hire in the Fed? Just curious. Now that I am really concern about that. I have proven myself to be a very competent employee over the years.
I believe that it's very common to have to probation period and I can see why that could be daunting (I originally come on as a one year term employee so there was absolutely no expectations beyond that 1 year but I figured if I didn't stay there, I'd find something else somewhere else so I wasn't too worried about it. FWIW, I've never heard of anyone being let go during the probation but I don't typically follow office gossip that much either. Based on my observations, Gov employees leave because they choose to transfer to another department (happens all the time) or because they retire. I've actually never heard of anyone being let go under any scenario ...

In case you are curious, my original department (Environment Canada when it was decimated by the Harper Government around 2010) wasn't able to renew my term (in fact they cut a bunch of positions (and indeterminate employees just got shuffled to other departments)) but about 9 months into the term, I was offered an indeterminate from another department I had applied to. Once you get your foot in the door, it's a lot easier as you can apply to internal postings (although mine was external).
Deal Fanatic
Mar 15, 2005
5154 posts
685 upvotes
1000islands wrote:
Dec 1st, 2017 3:33 pm
If private sector is so much better, why people consider going to the fed.? Is private sector really not secure? and pension not goo?
Public is way easier / lazier overall

I have worked for public sector and worked in private as well. I would make less money in public but sometimes consider going back to that easy lifestyle. Basically have to do no work, have no stress etc
Member
User avatar
Dec 18, 2012
274 posts
56 upvotes
705
Ziggy007 wrote:
Dec 6th, 2017 7:29 pm
Public is way easier / lazier overall

I have worked for public sector and worked in private as well. I would make less money in public but sometimes consider going back to that easy lifestyle. Basically have to do no work, have no stress etc
lol would love to know where in public you worked. i work very hard, every single day, to earn my good salary, vacation time and benefits provisions. it's a fantastic job but there's nothing easy or lazy about it.
Deal Addict
Sep 4, 2007
1013 posts
391 upvotes
Edmonton
Ziggy007 wrote:
Dec 6th, 2017 7:29 pm
Public is way easier / lazier overall

I have worked for public sector and worked in private as well. I would make less money in public but sometimes consider going back to that easy lifestyle. Basically have to do no work, have no stress etc
It's easier if you want it to be easy, but the stress comes in trying to champion change in an environment full of lazy, entitled people who don't want to do anything. If you're in the public sector and want to make an actual difference, it's a huge uphill battle where you're out-manned and outgunned. Creating change in the private sector is less stressful by far.
Deal Fanatic
Mar 15, 2005
5154 posts
685 upvotes
thecrashton wrote:
Dec 7th, 2017 11:39 am
lol would love to know where in public you worked. i work very hard, every single day, to earn my good salary, vacation time and benefits provisions. it's a fantastic job but there's nothing easy or lazy about it.
Environment Canada.

Basically everyone there was the cousin / aunt / uncle of someone else in the building (they literally would tell you when you met them)

I reported to someone who actually had no idea what they were doing: an accountant who was managing a very important software development program only because his old department was closed down and they couldn't fire him. During the interview he told me that one day he was hoping to learn HTML.

After months of not being given any work and getting tired of going to afternoon tea and cake parties in the building I asked my manager for something to do. I was later reprimanded by the union head in the building for stressing my boss out having to find work for me to do.

I eventually just started blogging about sports all day. I was doing in depth game day analysis on the Raptors and Leafs. Even that got boring after a while so I left and went private sector.
Member
Aug 8, 2010
377 posts
37 upvotes
Oh, well...looks like it's a mixed bag, it all depends on the particular department. I think I am going public soon....no idea how is going to turn out for me...
Even in my current contracting position, having work in a gov company, I am not sure if I should ask for more work too, like you said I don't want to stress my bosses out...lol...damn if I do, damn if I don't.
Sr. Member
Jan 15, 2017
701 posts
466 upvotes
jacolantern wrote:
Dec 6th, 2017 9:35 am
That's a great perspective, Michelb. I appreciate you sharing that.

In my case, I've been in the private sector for 10 years and I don't really need to take a pay cut to join government (probably because my company is struggling and they haven't been giving many pay increases over the years). But I agree the pension alone just knocks the compensation comparison out of the park. I will no longer have to put $800+ of my monthly salary towards an RRSP which will be a BIG windfall for me (10% of my gross salary!). I'll keep what I have saved already in my RRSP for my spouse if I die first to help compensate for half the missing pension. I'm also looking forward to working normal hours, as I technically work overtime every day as it is. Lots to look forward to!!

But I'm going to miss working with an amazing, bright group of high-performers. If you're not a high-performer with a good attitude, you get let go; so we're left with some amazing, brilliant workers. There are definitely advantages to "less stability"! We were able to accomplish a lot together. The work is varied and interesting too which is great. Like I said, there are pros and cons. But I'm ready to move on and try something different!
The current DB pension plan is great. To be clear though, you do pay into it - it isn't free. And depending on your salary, the amount that is deducted from your pay can easily be $800 a month, and you will still have to pay CPP also.
Sr. Member
Jan 15, 2017
701 posts
466 upvotes
1000islands wrote:
Dec 7th, 2017 2:32 pm
Oh, well...looks like it's a mixed bag, it all depends on the particular department. I think I am going public soon....no idea how is going to turn out for me...
Even in my current contracting position, having work in a gov company, I am not sure if I should ask for more work too, like you said I don't want to stress my bosses out...lol...damn if I do, damn if I don't.
You hit the nail on the head. It really does depend on the department and even then it can change from region and even program or office.
Sr. Member
Jan 15, 2017
701 posts
466 upvotes
michelb wrote:
Dec 6th, 2017 2:13 pm
I believe that it's very common to have to probation period and I can see why that could be daunting (I originally come on as a one year term employee so there was absolutely no expectations beyond that 1 year but I figured if I didn't stay there, I'd find something else somewhere else so I wasn't too worried about it. FWIW, I've never heard of anyone being let go during the probation but I don't typically follow office gossip that much either. Based on my observations, Gov employees leave because they choose to transfer to another department (happens all the time) or because they retire. I've actually never heard of anyone being let go under any scenario ...

In case you are curious, my original department (Environment Canada when it was decimated by the Harper Government around 2010) wasn't able to renew my term (in fact they cut a bunch of positions (and indeterminate employees just got shuffled to other departments)) but about 9 months into the term, I was offered an indeterminate from another department I had applied to. Once you get your foot in the door, it's a lot easier as you can apply to internal postings (although mine was external).
I can assure you that people are let go during probation more frequently than is believed. And contrary to the widely held belief that you cannot be fired, people are terminated from the Federal Public Service. You may wish to view the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board and search on terminations and probation. A quick search of the Federal Court website will also show lots of terminations that make their way through the court system.

Edit to Add: For some positions, probation can be for longer than one year, with up to 3 years common. This is especially true for employees hired under Developmental Programs / Apprenticeship Programs.

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