Grievances under the FPSLRA

The Federal Public Sector Labour Relations Act (FPSLRA) provides for three different types of grievances. Among those, some may be referred to adjudication: certain individual grievances, all group grievances and all policy grievances.

Individual

When an employee feels aggrieved by, for example, the interpretation or application of a collective agreement, or as a result of an occurrence or matter affecting his or her terms and conditions of employment, that employee is entitled to present an individual grievance to that employee's immediate supervisor or the person identified as the first level response to a grievance within the department or agency. Employers may have specific grievance procedures in their organization or agency. Each level will include specific time frames for filing and for response.

In these collective agreement situations, it is a requirement that the bargaining agent indicate its support for the grievance to go forward. When the deputy minister gives the department's final reply and it is not acceptable to the employee, in certain situations the employee can refer the grievance to the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board (FPSLREB) for a hearing and decision.

Employees can file grievances involving issues under the Canadian Human Rights Act, except in relation to pay equity, and be awarded monetary relief as provided under that Act (s. 208). The Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) is entitled to be notified of such grievances and, if the grievance is referred to adjudication, can make submissions before an adjudicator.

Disciplinary action on the part of a manager can also be cause for a grievance, if the employee feels that it was not justified. If the action resulted in suspension or in termination of employment, the employee can file an individual grievance. When the deputy minister gives the department's final reply and it is not acceptable to the employee, the employee can refer the grievance to the FPSLREB for a hearing and decision if the disciplinary action has resulted in a financial penalty.

Group

When a number of employees in the same department or agency believe that their collective agreement has not been administered correctly, they can ask their bargaining agent to file a group grievance on their behalf. Each one of those employees must sign his or her agreement to representation by the bargaining agent. As with the individual type of grievance, it is a requirement that the bargaining agent indicate its support for the grievance to go forward. If the response received by the deputy minister is not satisfactory, the employees can ask the bargaining agent to refer the grievance to the FPSLREB for a hearing and decision.

Policy

The FPSLRA also allows either the bargaining agent or the employer to file a "policy grievance". A policy grievance must relate to an alleged violation of the collective agreement which affects the employees generally.