Expected to Work/Barriers to Full Employment Policy & Procedures

Published Date: February 02, 2017
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19 Administrative Procedures

Payment Methods and Processes

Cheques

INTENT

To ensure the cheque payment method is used appropriately.

POLICY

Guidelines for Pick Up of Cheques in Emergency Situations

Cheques produced on site for pick up should only be created to prevent potential hardship to clients. The following guidelines should be used to determine if a client should be allowed to pick up a cheque:

  • Client would be left without food or shelter.
  • Medical emergency or health risk that presents as life threatening to a client or family.
  • Prevent loss of employment opportunity.
  • Prevent eviction.

For procedures on when to release a cheque for pick-up, please see the Worksite Procedures – Cash Handling and Other Controllable Items.

Manual (Typed or Handwritten) Local District Office Cheques (HD)

Manual (typed or handwritten) cheques are issued in emergency cases only when:

  • A client’s needs are such that they are unable to wait for LISA to print a cheque, or
  • LISA is down and cheques cannot be printed before the client must have a cheque.

Third-Party Cheques

Third-party cheques are used only when a:

  • Client has recently misused funds (i.e., shelter), or
  • Requests payment be made directly to a vendor (i.e., treatment facility), and 
  • No other alternatives are feasible, and
  • Client would otherwise be homeless, or
  • Client’s utilities would be disconnected, or&
  • Client would be in jeopardy or not receiving a basic need (i.e., treatment).

The decision to use a third-party cheque for more than one consecutive period of assistance (POA) is reviewed by worker every six months with the goal to have the client accept responsibility to pay their bills themselves. The worker will place a Task in Mobius for appropriate follow up and document the decision in Mobius Notes.

The worker must ensure that the correct vendor has been selected as the payee for the third-party payment and that the appropriate identifying information is included on the cheque (i.e., in the Worker Message Area). This will aid the vendor (third-party) receiving the cheque, to correctly allocate the payment.

Note
To assist utility companies in identifying third-party utility payments, the cheque must include utility account number(s) and client name. Additional information may be included as appropriate, such as account holder name (if different than client name), utility service address and the client’s mailing or utility service address.

Cheque Signing Authorities and Responsibilities

The delegation of signing authority has been set up to:

  • Control the number of persons having signing authority in all Service Centres.
  • Meet Finance ministry audit requirements.

All designated cheque-signing authorities are responsible for ensuring the validity and accuracy of the payments being signed. The following financial controls must be followed to assure the designated accounting officer that expenditures are appropriate and correct.

  • Workers must not sign cheques for which they issued the benefits.
  • Blank cheques are not to be signed.
  • If the signer has any concerns regarding the validity of a cheque, the signer must obtain appropriate clarification or documentation.

Financial Client Payments & Revenue (FCP&R) in headquarters controls the delegation of signing authority and is responsible for cheque signing authority changes at Alberta Works Centres. Guidelines on Negotiable Documents Control can be obtained in the Data Control Manual Reference Number DC-07-02-04. Worker applies for signing authority through their Service Centre administration. Signing authority is limited by working titles (see below).

If an exception to this is needed on a one-time basis, an EMP 2408 Segregation of Duties is completed. If the exception is frequent or continuous (as in some small offices) this should be noted on the EMP 2408 Segregation of Duties.

Note
Guidelines on the
EMP 2408 Segregation of Duties
can be obtained in the Data Control Manual.

First Signer

The first person to sign the District Office Cheque (DOC) must be in one of the following positions:

  • Unit Administrative Support Staff (AS) (senior classification)
  • Supports and Financial Services Coordinator (SFSC)
  • Career and Employment Consultant (CEC)
  • Office Manager or Business Manager

Before signing LISA printed DOCs, the first signer makes sure all cheques in the run are LISA-generated with no manual (typed or handwritten) cheques mixed in.

In an emergency, when a second signer is not available, cheques may be signed by two first signers, but not by two Administrative Assistants (AS). A photocopy must be reviewed and initialed by a second signer before being filed.

Second Signer

The second person to sign the DOC must be in one of the following positions:

  • Income Support Supervisor (ISS)
  • Assistant Area Manager/Service Delivery Manager
  • Area Manager 
  • Associate Regional Director 
  • Regional Director

Before signing LISA printed DOCs, the second signer ensures:

  • All cheques in the run are LISA-generated with no manual (typed or handwritten) cheques mixed in.
  • The first signer on the cheque is authorized to sign the cheque.
  • All cheques are valid and accurate in accordance with policy.

In an emergency, when a first signer is not available cheques may be signed by two second signers (as two different signatures are required).

Voiding a Cheque

The Information Technology (IT) Site Contact is the only staff in the offices with the authority and LISA function to void cheques.

A cheque that has been printed and approved cannot be voided. The IT Site Contact can only void cheques that:

  • Are in their possession and
  • Have not transmitted to the mainframe.

Cheques can be voided in the following situations:

  • Blank cheques at the beginning and the end of a printing run.
  • Printed cheques that have a mistake and the information has not been electronically transmitted to the mainframe.
  • Manual (typed or handwritten) cheques that are not going to be used and have not been entered on LISA.

Cancelling a DOC

When a DOC is cancelled on LISA, LISA records that the cheque will not be submitted for payment. The DOC:

  • May not have been released to the client, or
  • Has been returned to the office not cashed, or
  • Has been returned by a financial institution and stamped Pursuant to Clearing Rules.

Only workers with LISA function 9 and 10 can cancel a cheque.

Stale Dated Cheques

All cheques that have not been cashed after 180 days are automatically stopped by the system. When this occurs, the following reports will be generated at the worksite: List of Stop Payments on Unclaimed Cheques for D.O. SCNP3600-1 and List of Stale Dated D.O. Cheques SCNP3430. Using the reports, the worker must determine if the client is still eligible for the benefit.

If the file is active the worker contacts the client to discuss why the cheque was not cashed and to re-establish eligibility. If it is determined that the person is still eligible the worker may reissue the benefit.

If the file is closed the worker must wait for the client to make contact in order to re-establish eligibility based on the circumstances of why they did not cash the cheque.

PROCEDURES

When preparing a manual (typed or handwritten) cheque:

  1. The worker:
    • Establishes eligibility and calculates the amount of the benefit.
    • Requests ISS approval for a manual (typed or handwritten) cheque.
    • Requests a cheque from the IT Site Contact.
  2. The IT Site Contact records the appropriate data on the EMP 2210 Cheque Control Log.
  3. The worker:
    • Signs the log to show the cheque has been received.
    • Forwards the cheque with the file to the AS staff for typing.
  4. AS staff:
    • Types the cheque.
    • Arranges for the first signature on the cheque. 
    • Forwards it with the file to the ISS for approval and second signature.
  5. The ISS verifies the manual (typed or handwritten) cheque is accurate. 
  6. The AS staff:
    • Makes one photocopy of the cheque before release to the client. 
    • Releases the cheque to the client. 
    • Files the photocopy of the cheque requisition on section 2 of the client’s file.
  7. When LISA becomes available, the AS returns the file to the worker. 
  8. The worker enters the cheque data into LISA. 
  9. The ISS approves the cheque on LISA, ensuring: 
    • The benefit has been calculated accurately and 
    • The cheque date information has been entered correctly.
  10. The IT Site Contact: 
    • Checks in LISA to see if the worker entered the cheque (within one business day after LISA is up). 
    • Makes note of the cheque being entered on the cheque log. 
    • If the cheque is not entered, follows up with the worker. 

Stop Payment on Cheques

Stop payments are used when a Central Cheque Processing (CCP) or DOC is lost, stolen, destroyed or not received by the payee or client. A Stop Payment must not be done on a Direct Deposit.

The worker may still place a stop payment on LISA if funds are being reissued and the cheque was allegedly stolen and cashed by another person.

The worker must verify the status of the cheque in Cheque Control and review the client’s circumstances before issuing a replacement cheque. If the client has previously received replacement funds for a lost or stolen cheque, the worker is to take extra care to ensure the client can be issued..

When the cheque has not been received by the payee, workers are to wait three business days before placing a stop payment. A stop payment may be placed immediately if the cheque was sent to the wrong address.

The reasons for placing a stop payment on a cheque are coded as follows:

D = Destroyed
L = Lost – not endorsed
M = Misplaced (by worker or someone in office)
S = Stolen – not endorsed
X = Not received by payee or client
Y = Lost – endorsed by payee
Z = Stolen – endorsed by payee

Only workers with LISA function 9 and 10 can place a stop payment on a cheque.

Processing a Stop Payment

The worker: 

  1. Finds the cheque on LISA. 
  2. Checks status on Cheque Control, option 1, function 4 in the Financial Processing system. 
  3. From the Cheque Control screen checks for a previous cancel or stop payment to avoid duplicating.
    Note
    The stop payment process deletes the budget; therefore, the actual need and income codes are used when reissuing payment.
  4. Ensures there are copies of appropriate identification (ID) on file (preferably their SIN card and a photo ID). 
  5. Completes an EMP 0151A Statutory Declaration with the payee (client or trustee), excluding third party vendors since they may not be available to sign this form.
    Note
    The stop payment may involve a third party cheque for a vendor. In this situation the worker is required to enter the following notes in Mobius:
    • Who identified the cheque has not been received
    • If the 3rd party payment was reissued and the amount
    • When recording the DOC cheque number on the EMP 0151A Statutory Declaration, write down the two letters and only the next five numbers. The DOC’s sixth number is only a check digit and is not to be included. 
    • When recording the cheque date for a CCP and DOC payment write the day, month and year.
  6. Places the EMP 0151A Statutory Declaration for filing on section 2 of the client’s paper.
  7. Enters Mobius Notes indicating the reason and date for the statutory declaration. Any payments that are being reissued are also documented in Mobius Notes.
  8. If the cheque is still on the local system, enters the stop payment into LISA. If the cheque is no longer on LISA, sends an email to FCP&R indicating:
  9. A stop payment is required, and
  10. The cheque number, 
  11. The client file number, and
  12. The cheque amount.
  13. The AS staff files the original (District Office copy) EMP 0151A Statutory Declaration and copies of personal identification on Section 2 of the client’s file, to be used as required, for Cheque Control and fraud investigation if the cheque is subsequently cashed.
  14. The Client Copy of the EMP 0151A Statutory Declaration is given to the client.

Stop Payments on Cheques Subsequently Cashed

When entering a stop payment the worker may not know that the cheque was already cashed before placing the stop payment. The client’s name will appear on a “Stop Payment on Cheques Subsequently Cashed” report   Designated Delivery Site Contacts print off the system generated report from the SIE Portal and distribute it to the worker. The Designated Site Contacts will follow the Stop Payments on Cheques Subsequently Cashed Procedure.

Note

  1. To access the “Stop Payment on Cheques Subsequently Cashed” reports, the worksite contact must select either the CPP or DOC “Accumulated Alleged Forgery Report” link on the SIE portal. See the Stop Payments on Cheques Subsequently Cashed Procedure for details. 
  2. These reports are to be dealt with in a timely manner to ensure that internal and financial controls are maintained and, errors are minimized which results in a reduction of duplicate payments issued. FCP&R has to be notified of the worker’s outcome on a file in order to clear the client’s name from the report. 

The worker reviews the client file and contact the client to determine which one of the four activities needs to occur: 

  • Duplicate Payment:  If the client was reissued for this cheque and the client admits to cashing both, the worksite calculates an overpayment and emails FCP&R at HS.CheqContr@gov.ab.ca to inform them an overpayment has been calculated so that the client name is removed from the report.
  • Cheque Stopped in Error:  If the worker has placed a stop in error and the client was entitled to the cheque, the worker emails FCP&R at HS.CheqContr@gov.ab.ca to inform them the cheque was stopped in error so that the stop is reversed and the client name is removed from the report.
  • Forged Endorsement: If the client denies cashing the cheque and the signature does not appear to be the client’s, the worker scans the EMP 0151A Statutory Declaration and a copy of the cheque and emails these two documents to FCP&R HS.CheqContr@gov.ab.ca so that the Government gets reimbursed by the bank and the client name is removed from the report.
  • Referral to Investigations Unit:  If the signature appears to be the client’s after the client has been interviewed and if the client still denies cashing the cheque, the file is referred to the Investigations Unit. FCP&R is notified of the referral and either HSIU or the worker notifies FCP&R at HS.CheqContr@gov.ab.ca of the outcome.  

Note
The emails sent to FCP&R for any of the outcomes should be sent to HS.CheqContr@gov.ab.ca
and should include the Payee’s name, Issue Date, Cheque Number, Cashed Date and Amount.  The EMP 0151B Cheque Signature Samples form is no longer completed by the worker.

Reimbursement To A Financial Institution Or Cheque Cashing Agency

  1. If a stopped cheque is cashed at a financial institution or cheque cashing agency Financial Client Payments & Revenue will receive a letter from the organization.
  2. Financial Client Payments & Revenue when receiving the documents such as the letter, the cheque and any corresponding documents will then forward it to the DO Manager for action. The cashing agencies must send original cheque. In some instances, some cashing agencies cannot send original cheque, but will attach bank account information to the copy of the cheque.
  3. The delivery site will then determine by reviewing the cheque and other signature samples on the client’s file if an overpayment needs to be calculated or a referral to Investigations Unit.  
    1. If the signature does not match, the worker will submit an EMP 0037 Request for Investigation to the appropriate Investigation Unit.
    2. If the matter is referred to Investigation they will inform the delivery site if and when to reimburse the agency.
    3. If the signature does match, or the client admits to cashing both cheques, the worker will determine if an overpayment is calculated or if a referral to Investigation Unit is required.
    4. If an overpayment is calculated the delivery site will reimburse the cheque cashing agency through IMAGIS 
    5. To process the payment to the Cashing Agency, please see the instructions in the IMAGIS AP Manual.
    6. Any questions regarding the payment, please contact your Accounting Officer. 
Note
If the cheque was cashed at a financial institution the worker will reimburse the institution as outlined in the Indemnity Agreement and then determine if an overpayment is required.