Frequently Asked Questions about the Legislation Applicable to Labour Relations Matters

What statutes does the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board administer regarding labour relations matters?

The key statute administered by the FPSLREB is the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations Act (FPSLRA) covering the federal public service, which includes the departments named in Schedule I of the Financial Administration Act, the other portions of the federal public administration named in Schedule IV and the separate agencies named in Schedule V.

In addition to the PSLRA, the FPSLREB administers the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act, which covers employees of the Parliament of Canada.

Under the Budget Implementation Act, 2009, the FPSLREB is also responsible for dealing with some pay equity complaints filed with the Canadian Human Rights Commission. Once the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act has been proclaimed in force, the FPSLREB will become responsible for dealing with all pay equity complaints relating to the federal public service.

The FPSLREB also administers certain provisions of Part II of the Canada Labour Code, which gives employees recourse against reprisals for exercising their rights under the Code.

As well, the FPSLREB administers the collective bargaining and grievance adjudication systems under the Yukon Education Labour Relations Act and the Yukon Federal Public Sector Labour Relations Act. When performing these functions, which are funded by the Yukon government, the FPSLREB acts respectively as the Yukon Teachers Labour Relations Board and the Yukon Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board.

The FPSLREB also deals with the statute under which it was created, the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board Act (FPSLREA).

When did the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations Act (FPSLRA) come into effect?

The FPSLRA, which was established by the Public Service Modernization Act, came into effect on April 1, 2005, as did the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board Regulations (the Regulations) accompanying the FPSLRA. It replaced the Public Service Staff Relations Act (PSSRA).

What key changes to labour relations were introduced by the FPSLRA?

The FPSLRA was one part of a larger package of reforms in federal public service human resource management. The following is an overview of the key changes introduced by the PSLRA.

  • The FPSLRA established a more comprehensive unfair labour practices regime and created more comprehensive grievance and adjudication mechanisms.
  • Each department and agency must establish a labour-management consultation committee in cooperation with the bargaining agents.
  • The FPSLRA provides for the co-development of workplace improvements, a process through which representatives of both the employer and employees work together to resolve workplace issues.
  • Each department and agency must establish an informal conflict management system in cooperation with the bargaining agents.
  • The parties must negotiate and conclude essential services agreements to protect the safety and security of the public during a strike.
  • When hearing grievances, adjudicators are empowered to consider aspects of the grievance that relate to discrimination within the meaning of the Canadian Human Rights Act, which was not possible under the PSSRA.
  • The interpretation or application of a collective agreement may be the focus of a policy grievance presented by the employer or the bargaining agent, or a group grievance presented by the bargaining agent.
  • The FPSLRA requires a secret ballot within 60 days before a strike.

What happened to cases that were filed under the Public Service Staff Relations Act (PSSRA) and were still open on April 1, 2005?

The FPSLREB continues to process all files that remained open at the Public Service Staff Relations Board (PSSRB) — there is no need to re-file.  

Labour relations matters that were filed with the PSSRB, such as certification applications and determinations of managerial or confidential employees, are dealt with in accordance with the legislative provisions set out in the PSLRA, and the rules of procedure set out in the Regulations must be followed. However, where a notice to bargain was given prior to the coming into force of the FPSLRA, and the bargaining agent had selected conciliation/strike as its dispute resolution method, the “designation” process of the PSSRA continues to apply until a new collective agreement is entered into.

Complaints that were filed with the PSSRB are also dealt with in accordance with the FPSLRA, with the following exceptions:

  • complaints that were filed under paragraph 23(1)(b) of the PSSRA respecting the failure of a party to give effect to an arbitral award are deemed to be “policy grievances” and are processed accordingly;
  • complaints that were filed under paragraph 23(1)(c) of the PSSRA respecting the failure to give effect to an adjudicator’s decision are deemed withdrawn, in light of the enforcement provisions under the PSLRA.

Grievances that were presented under the PSSRA but not finally dealt with before the coming into force of the FPSLRA continue to be dealt with in accordance with the provisions of the PSSRA. Such grievances are subject to the P.S.S.R.B. Regulations and Rules of Procedure, 1993.

How did the FPSLRA change the collective bargaining process?

  1. The FPSLRA established a new conciliation process. Public Interest Commissions replaced conciliation boards and conciliation commissioners (ss. 162-167). Public Interest Commissions are non-permanent bodies consisting of one or three persons, appointed by the Minister responsible, whose role is to assist the parties to resolve disputes and to make recommendations for settlement. The Chairperson of the FPSLREB recommends the appointment of a Public Interest Commission either at the request of the parties or on his or her own initiative.
  2. The FPSLRA enables two-tier bargaining. Two-tier bargaining allows for service-wide bargaining to set the broad parameters for terms and conditions of employment in a bargaining unit while permitting precise details to be negotiated in departments, if the employer, bargaining agent and deputy head jointly agree (s. 110).
  3. In order to declare a strike, the FPSLRA requires bargaining agents to hold a strike vote by secret ballot. All employees in the bargaining unit have the right to participate in the vote and must be given reasonable access to the vote (s. 184). Strike votes have to be held within the 60 days preceding any strike. A majority of those voting have to be in favour in order for a strike to be declared (s. 196(s)).The FPSLREB may hear complaints of alleged irregularities with respect to the conduct of the vote (s. 184(2)) where an application is made within 10 days of the announcement of results.

Please see the fact sheet on collective bargaining for more information. 

Changes to the FPSLRA under the Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 2 (the "EAP 2013 Act")

Several sections of the EAP 2013 Act came into force on December 12, 2013, bringing changes to certain provisions of the FPSLRA including those relating to:

  1. Choice of dispute resolution process;
  2. Essential services;
  3. Time frames for collective bargaining;
  4. Factors to consider in conciliation and arbitration.

In addition, the compensation analysis and research services mandate of the FPSLREB's predecessor, the Public Service Labour Relations Board (PSLRB) was eliminated.

On November 1, 2014, several other provisions of the EAP 2013 Act came into force. The most significant result was the enactment of the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board Act, creating the FPSLREB and assigning it the functions previously exercised by the PSLRB and the Public Service Staffing Tribunal.