Complaints – Labour relations

Under the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations Act (FPSLRA), an employee, bargaining agent or employer can file a complaint to the Board under section 190 of the FPSLRA.

The Board must examine and inquire into any complaint made to it concerning:

  • a failure to observe a duty to bargain in good faith
  • a failure to comply with a duty to observe terms and conditions of employment
  • a failure to observe a duty to implement provisions of an arbitral award
  • an unfair labour practice

Is representation mandatory?

If you are thinking of filing a complaint, we advise that you seek the advice of your bargaining agent or lawyer before commencing.

To maintain its impartiality, the Board plays a completely neutral role throughout all of its processes. This means information is provided in an unbiased fashion, no advice or strategy is given to either party, and no monetary support is provided.

Filing the complaint

A complaint under the FPSLRA should contain sufficient information to enable the Board to determine the nature of the complaint, the parties to the complaint, and the nature of the relief sought. More precisely, the written complaint (Form 16) should include:

  1. The name, mailing and email addresses, and phone and fax numbers of the complainant
  2. The name and mailing address of the respondent
  3. A short summary of the measures taken by the employer/bargaining agent that resulted in the complaint, specifying dates and names of the persons in question.
  4. The steps taken by the complainant or on his or her behalf to rectify the situation
  5. The corrective action or order requested (section 192(1) of the FPSLRA)
  6. Other matters relevant to the complaint

Deadline for filing a complaint

A complaint must be filed with the Board within 90 days (counting Saturdays, Sundays and holidays) after the date on which the complainant became aware of, or ought to have known about, the actions giving rise to the complaint (ss. 190(2) of the FPSLRA).

What happens after a complaint has been filed with the Board?

When the Board receives a complaint, a letter is sent to each of the parties acknowledging receipt of the complaint and advising the respondent of its opportunity to reply. The acknowledgment letter also provides the parties with information required for continuing the process, such as the Board’s file number, and instructions on the next steps. The Board’s file number must be used on all subsequent documents and correspondence.

Based on the persons named in the complaint, the Board will create a list of parties, and other persons who may be affected by the proceeding (the "Board's list"). The Board will send copies of the complaint, as well as a copy of the Board’s list, to the persons whose names appear on this list.

Note: Any document submitted subsequently to the complaint must be filed with the Board. The party filing a subsequent document (except for Applications for a summons) must provide a copy to every person whose name appears on the Board's list, unless he has notified the Board in writing that he does not wish to receive a copy of subsequent documents.


Every complaint is automatically referred to mediation; however, mediation remains voluntary. If a party declines mediation in writing, or if the dispute cannot be resolved through this approach, the Board will schedule the matter for a hearing, which could be held in person (oral hearing) or decide that the matter will proceed by way of written submissions (paper hearing).

A party has 15 calendar days from the date of the acknowledgment to notify the Board and all the parties of its intention not to participate in mediation.

Even if the parties refuse mediation at the outset, they may at any point request that the matter be referred to mediation.  


For more information on how to prepare for a hearing and about the hearing itself, please consult the Hearing Guide.

For more detailed information about the referral of complaints under the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations Act, please consult the Labour Relations Procedural guide.