Frequently Asked Questions about Hearings (labour relations matters)

What is involved in a grievance adjudication hearing?

Not all grievance referrals will proceed to hearing. Some may be determined based on what has been submitted on file. Hearings before adjudicators are similar to those in a court of law, but are less formal. There is no cost for a hearing.

As a party to a grievance adjudication, the grievor is given the opportunity to submit evidence by way of witnesses and relevant documents and to make submissions to support his or her position.

At least seven days in advance, an official notice confirming the date, time and place of the hearing is forwarded to the grievor or the grievor's representative and the other party to the grievance.

It is the responsibility of each party to advise the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board (FPSLREB) in advance if simultaneous interpretation is required at a hearing. There is no cost for this. Parties must also indicate in advance whether accommodation measures are needed for the hearing, such as for persons with disabilities.

If a person is provided with a notice of hearing and does not attend, the adjudicator may still hold the hearing and make a decision without contacting the person further.

In grievance proceedings involving discipline, such as termination, the employer presents evidence first. In grievances involving the interpretation or application of a collective agreement or arbitral award, the grievor proceeds first.

Witnesses called by one party may be cross-examined by the other party. Should a grievor decide to testify, he or she may also be subject to cross-examination. Whichever party summons the witness must pay the required fees and allowances.

A grievor may represent himself/herself or may be represented by a person of his or her choice, including legal counsel. The responsibility for retaining a representative and covering the associated cost rests with the grievor.

If one of the parties intends to file an exhibit (evidence), and an official version of the document exists in both official languages, that person must file both versions of the text at the hearing. That person must provide sufficient copies for the presiding adjudicator, the other party to the proceeding, and any witnesses who may need to see it at the hearing.

Once the hearing is completed, a decision will be written and a copy will be sent to the parties through their representatives. This could take from three to six months.

How are participants notified that a hearing has been scheduled?

Parties directly involved in the hearings (the grievor's representative and the employer and representative) receive a written notice of hearing at least seven days before the hearing starts.

Parties may apply for a summons that orders a witness to attend the hearing. If the case falls under the former Public Service Staff Relations Act (PSSRA), the summons is served according to the laws that apply in the province where the summons is served. If the case falls under the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations Act (FPSLRA), it is served according to the Federal Courts Rules.

Where do hearings take place?

The FPSLREB does its best to accommodate the parties with respect to the location of the hearing. Hearings are scheduled to be held in the major urban centre closest to where the grievor/complainant works. For example, if the work location is Gatineau, the hearing will likely take place in Ottawa. If the work location is Banff National Park, the hearing will likely take place in Calgary, Alberta.

Hearings in Ottawa are usually held on the 7th floor of the C.D. Howe building, which is located at 240 Sparks Street. Hearings held elsewhere take place in the hearing rooms of the Federal Court or in a hotel conference facility. We aim to hold hearings in neutral locations that have the flexibility to respond to changes in the need for meeting rooms.

Are hearings open to the public?

Yes. In general, hearings are open to the public. An exception is cases where national security is at issue. The hearing schedule is posted on the FPSLREB website.

Are special accommodations available for persons with disabilities?

Yes. When sufficient advance notice is received, the FPSLREB makes every effort to ensure that the hearing location is accessible to persons with disabilities and is barrier-free.

Are hearings recorded?

As a rule, the Board does not record hearings or prepare minutes. The presiding adjudicator or Board member takes notes of the evidence and submissions, which are not made available to the parties or to the public. Parties wishing a record of proceedings are advised to take notes.

Are hearings interpreted in the other official language?

Simultaneous interpretation in the other official language is available, free of charge. The party requiring that service must request it sufficiently in advance that we can ensure that a bilingual Board member or adjudicator is available and that arrangements for qualified interpreters and sound equipment can be made.

What should witnesses expect at a hearing?

Witnesses will be asked to take an oath or solemnly affirm that they will tell the truth at the hearing. The parties will then ask them questions.

A person who is summoned to appear as a witness is entitled to receive fees and allowances from the party that summoned them. If the case falls under the FPSLRA, the fees and allowances must equal those he or she would be entitled to if they were summoned to appear before the Federal Court. Please refer to the Federal Courts Rules.

If the case falls under the PSSRA, a person summoned as a witness is entitled to be paid an allowance for expenses. This is determined in accordance with the scale for the time being in force for witnesses in civil suits in the superior court of the province in which the proceedings are taking place.

What powers does an adjudicator have?

The FPSLRA grants adjudicators various powers, including the authority to:

  • summon witnesses;
  • administer oaths and solemn affirmations;
  • order the production of documents;
  • hold hearings, in person or in writing;
  • accept evidence; and
  • enter any premises of the employer, inspect and view any work, material, machinery, appliance or article.

When the adjudicator finds that the grievance is well founded, he or she has the power to make the grievor whole and to compensate the grievor for any losses suffered. This includes, among others, the power to:

  • reinstate a grievor in his or her job, with back pay and benefits;
  • rescind a disciplinary action that resulted in a suspension or financial penalty; and
  • order monetary compensation when a collective agreement provision has been violated.

The adjudicator can also interpret, apply and give relief in accordance with the Canadian Human Rights Act, except for matters relating to the right to equal pay for equal work.

The adjudicator can also award interest in grievances involving termination, demotion, suspension or financial penalty at a rate and for a period that the adjudicator considers appropriate.

Finally, the adjudicator can dismiss grievances deemed to be frivolous or vexatious.

Are the decisions of an adjudicator final?

The decisions of adjudicators are final and may not be questioned or reviewed in any court, except under limited circumstances. The Federal Court of Appeal can judicially review a decision rendered by an adjudicator in certain cases. The grounds under which a judicial review can be sought are found in the Federal Courts Act. More information is available on our judicial review fact sheet.

I found a text error in the decision on my grievance. How do I get it corrected?

On rare occasions, a decision of the Board or an adjudicator may contain clerical errors. These clerical errors are not to be confused with what parties would consider errors in reasonableness or correctness.

If you were a party, you can bring a clerical error to the Board's attention by contacting its Registry.

If you know the identity of the Registry officer who was responsible for administering your case, you may phone or email that officer directly and inform him or her of the error. Be sure to provide the case number or the citation number and the details of the error, including its location (the page and paragraph number in the decision).

If you are not sure who the responsible Registry officer was, you can send an email to mail.courrier@fpslreb-crtespf.gc.ca with the details.

Normally, if the text error is corrected, the parties will be notified, in writing, of the changes made to the decision. However, notification will not necessarily be provided if the error was minor (e.g., a minor grammatical error) and it did not affect the essential nature of the decision or its page numbering.