Role of the Board

The Board administers the collective bargaining process and the adjudication of grievances and complaints for the federal public sector and parliamentary employees, including RCMP members and reservists. It is also responsible for resolving staffing complaints under the Public Service Employment Act related to internal appointments and lay-offs in the federal public service.


Adjudication aims to resolve disputes through a legal process where parties present their evidence and make their arguments following which a binding decision is issued. The process is similar to that of a court hearing but is less formal.

At the Board, adjudication services are provided in three main areas:

Labour relations grievances (individual, group or policy)

  • the interpretation of collective agreements and arbitral awards;
  • disciplinary action resulting in termination, demotion, suspension or financial penalty;
  • demotion or termination for unsatisfactory performance or for any other non-disciplinary reasons; and
  • deployment without an employee’s consent.

Complaints – Labour relations and staffing

  • Labour relations – unfair labour practices; reprisal actions taken for raising an issue under Part II of the Canada Labour Code
  • Staffing – Internal appointment processes; lay-offs; revocation of appointment; failure of corrective action


  • certification and revocation of certification;
  • determination of successor rights;
  • determination of managerial or confidential positions;
  • determination of essential services agreements;
  • review of prior Board decisions; and
  • request for extension of time to present grievances or to refer grievances to adjudication.


Before the hearing

The Board can call a variety of case management conferences (meetings) in advance of a hearing to prepare itself and the parties. This way, the Board can deal with procedural issues and technical questions before the hearing. These conferences help avoid delays and can help resolve some issues in advance. They are usually conducted by teleconference and chaired by a Board member. Case management conferences can also be conducted during a hearing and even after a hearing to discuss a variety of issues. The Board may decide to hold a case management conference on its own motion or accept to hold one at the request of a party.

It is the responsibility of each party to advise the Board 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.

During the hearing

At the start, the Board member will briefly explain how the hearing will unfold, but he or she must remain neutral. While the Board member can provide clarification about a procedural matter, he or she cannot provide advice on how best to present a case.

At the hearing, a party is given the opportunity to submit evidence by way of witnesses and relevant documents and to make submissions to support his or her position. Witnesses called by one party may be cross-examined by the other party. Should a party decide to testify, he or she may also be subject to cross-examination.

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 also provide sufficient copies for the presiding Board member, the other party to the proceeding, and any witnesses who may need to see it at the hearing.

After the Hearing

Once the hearing is completed, a decision is written and a copy sent to the parties.

Openness and Privacy

The open court principle is significant in our legal system. In accordance with this constitutionally protected principle, the Board conducts its hearings in public, save for exceptional circumstances. Because of its mandate and the nature of its proceedings, the Board maintains an open justice policy to foster transparency in its processes, accountability and fairness in its proceedings.

The Board’s website, notices, information bulletins and other publications advise parties and the community that its hearings are open to the public. Parties that engage the Board’s services should be aware that they are embarking on a process that presumes a public airing of the dispute between them, including the public availability of decisions. Parties and their witnesses are subject to public scrutiny when giving evidence before the Board. It is expected that they are more likely to be truthful if their identities are known. Board decisions identify parties and their witnesses by name and may set out information about them that is relevant and necessary to the determination of the dispute.

At the same time, the Board acknowledges that in some instances mentioning an individual’s personal information during a hearing or in a written decision may affect that person’s life. Privacy concerns arise most frequently when some identifying aspects of a person’s life become public. These include information about an individual’s home address, personal email address, personal phone number, date of birth, financial details, SIN, driver’s licence number, or credit card or passport details. The Board endeavours to include such information only to the extent that is relevant and necessary for the determination of the dispute.

For more information, please consult the Board’s Policy on Openness and Privacy.


Hearing Both Sides: Formal and Expedited Adjudication