What’s in your paycheque?

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Twice every month, Regular Force military members are paid for the work they do serving Canada. But how is that bi-monthly amount calculated?

Military salary begins with a base pay determined by the member’s corps (officer or non-commissioned member); rank (corporal, captain, etc.); and time spent at that rank. That base pay also aligns with the salary earned by public servants in comparable groups and levels (such as type of work or position, and civilian “rank”). In addition to this base pay, the Government of Canada recognizes that being in the Canadian Armed Forces means certain sacrifices are made by members and their families every day, that aren’t required by most public servants. This is compensated by what is known as the Military Factor.

The Military Factor is a percentage added to the base salaries of Canadian Armed Forces members, and is calculated using five additional elements. The military considerations are: personal limitation and liability (for example, personal freedoms given up by members under the Code of Service Discipline); separation (time away from families for operations, deployments and training); and posting turbulence (the personal and financial uncertainly and stress that goes along with geographic postings).

The other two elements are acting and overtime. They come into play because Canadian Armed Forces members do not receive additional money for overtime, although they often work extra hours for duty, operations, deployments, and exercises, or for acting for their for supervisors for short periods of time, such as when their supervisors are sick or on leave. In this latter case, members perform the duties temporarily, but do not assume the higher rank.

When members do assume all the duties and wear a rank higher than their substantive ranks, they receive the rate of pay for that higher rank. This applies to members acting while so employed (when a member is temporarily required to fill a position that would normally be carried out by a member of a higher rank) or acting/lacking (when a member is promoted, but must complete a course to become substantive in the higher rank).

As of 1 April 2019, members of the Reserve Force saw significant changes to how their pay is calculated. Outlined in Canada’s Defence Policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged, the Canadian Armed Forces conducted a comprehensive submission to the Treasury Board of Canada changing the calculation methodology of the Reserve Force to that of the Regular Force. As an outcome of this change, both Regular Force and Reserve Force members now receive the same base pay as part of their salary calculation. From that base pay, the applicable elements of the Military Factor are then applied to each component’s pay. For example, both members of the Regular and Reserve Force give up certain personal freedoms while being subject to the Code of Service Discipline and therefore receive pay under the Military Factor of personal limitation and liability. Similarly, members of the Reserve Force are not subject to posting turbulence and therefore do not receive compensation for that factor. The end result of this change in Reserve Force pay achieves the Strong, Secure, Engaged 79, equal pay for areas where the demands of work are similar.

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