Technical guide to participating in FPSLREB proceedings with Zoom Pro
The Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board (FPSLREB or “the Board”) has adopted “Videoconferencing Guidelines” for conducting hearings and other proceedings in response to the COVID-19 public health crisis. Those other proceedings include mediations conducted by the Board’s Mediation and Dispute Resolution Services (MDRS) as well as case-management or settlement conferences, when the Board uses them.
In accordance with those guidelines, a Board member or mediator will decide whether to use videoconferencing for a proceeding and in consultation with the parties will determine the online platform to use.
As the Board has decided to use Zoom Professional (Zoom Pro) as the primary platform for its virtual proceedings, this document provides supplementary technical information for representatives, witnesses, and observers who are to participate in a hearing, mediation, or case-management conference on Zoom.
The Board’s guidelines obligate parties appearing before it to familiarize themselves with the videoconferencing platform in advance of proceedings and to ensure than any participants and witnesses are aware of the platform’s technical requirements.
Therefore, parties are encouraged to review this technical guide with all participants. Any questions that a participant or witness may have should be addressed to the appropriate representative (e.g., the employer’s counsel or a grievor representative) and not to the Board. For more details or specific questions, you may also refer to the Zoom website for help guides and video tutorials.
1) Required equipment
A videoconference conducted on the Zoom platform is called a “Zoom meeting”; participating in one is free and does not require an account. You do need the following, using a computer, tablet, or smartphone, although a computer (laptop or desktop) is recommended:
- a stable Internet connection (preferably providing at least 1.5 Mbps; you can test it here);
- speakers (built-in to your device or plugged in) or headphones; and
- a webcam and microphone either built-in or plugged in to your device, usually via a USB connection (note that additional microphone specifications may be required for proceedings involving simultaneous interpretation).
As outlined in the videoconferencing guidelines, connecting via a wired connection (Ethernet cable) is preferable to using a wireless connection. If you use a wireless connection, do not connect via a public network; use only a password-protected private network.
2) Downloading the Zoom client
Although it is possible to join a Zoom meeting through a web browser, it is strongly recommended that you download the “Zoom Client for Meetings” to the device you will use for the meeting. Do this well before your first Zoom session is scheduled to take place. Once installed, this Zoom icon will appear on your desktop or phone:
When you open Zoom, the home screen will appear. It has four main options. Zoom users who register or obtain a licence will be able to create new meetings or schedule them. Those who will use Zoom only to join meetings set up by others may use join as one way of logging into the meeting.
3) The Zoom meeting host
For its hearings, the Board uses a neutral third-party service provider to host the related Zoom meeting. The service provider will set up the meeting and provide technical services during the hearing, for example setting up and managing the breakout rooms used during the hearing process. The service provider will also conduct a pre-hearing test of Zoom (see section 10 below).
For mediation, the host may be a neutral third-party service provider or the assigned mediator.
For a case-management or settlement conference, the host will be the Board member assigned to the case.
4) Pre-registration - participants
The Board requires that all participants pre-register before the proceeding takes place on Zoom. The parties’ representatives will be asked to provide the following for all participants:
- title (if applicable);
- email address;
- backup phone number in case the connection is lost;
- organization; and
- role (representative or counsel, client, grievor, or witness).
The Registry or MDRS will direct the parties’ representatives to provide this information well in advance of the first video proceeding involving a case (often the Zoom test). The information will be provided to the meeting host, who will use it when allowing participants into the Zoom meeting, resolving technical connection issues, and setting up breakout rooms.
The Registry or MDRS will send out a notice of a proceeding with a Zoom connection link and login information. It is strictly prohibited to forward this information.
5) Pre-registration - observers
Under the Board’s Open Court Policy and Videoconferencing Guidelines, its hearings are open to the public. It requires than any observers pre-register in advance of a hearing. Parties will be asked to pre-register any observers in advance and to provide the following information about them:
- email addresses; and
- organizations (if applicable).
The Registry will send out the notice of a proceeding with a Zoom connection link and login information to pre-registered observers by blind copy (bcc). It is strictly prohibited to forward this information to others.
Observers will be directed to join the meeting with their microphones on mute and without turning on their video cameras and to maintain that state throughout the hearing. The host will be directed to turn off the microphone and video of any observer who inadvertently or otherwise turns them on. If an observer continues turning on their microphone or video, the host may remove them from the hearing.
Observers will not be added to breakout rooms.
The Board will not suspend proceedings to address observers’ connection issues.
Those participating without a video connection appear as a black square in the meeting’s Gallery View. To hide them, right-click on any black square and select Hide Non-Video Participants. When non-video participants are hidden, this notice should appear at the top of your screen in gallery view:
Note that observers do not take part in the test session.
6) Joining via a link
The easiest way to join a Zoom session is by clicking on the link in the invitation that the Board sends. It will look like this:
After you click on the link, you will see a notice asking if you want to open the Zoom launcher. Click the button to open Zoom client:
7) Joining via a meeting ID and password
When you receive the meeting invitation, you should write down the meeting ID and passcode. This is important in case you lose your email connection just before joining the session. If that happens, open the zoom client, select Join Meeting from the home page, and enter the meeting ID and your name (observers may also check the box next to Turn off my video at this stage).
8) Joining by telephone
Participants may join a Zoom meeting by telephone. You may be asked to join only by video and to phone in for the audio portion, for example if problems arise with the computer’s audio or video connection. You may also be asked to join only by telephone. If so, the experience for the participant will be akin to an audio-only teleconference.
To connect by telephone, use the phone numbers provided to you as part of the meeting invitation (see step 6) and use the meeting ID and passcode provided.
The Board member/mediator will decide whether the session can proceed in the absence of a video connection for any given participant.
9) The waiting room
In most Board proceedings, the host will setup the meeting to place participants and observers in the Waiting Room before the session starts. You will see a screen like the following one until the host lets you in. You can test your audio and video once while you wait by clicking Test Computer Audio.
10) Zoom test sessions
For its hearings, the Board will normally schedule a Zoom test session to take place one to two weeks in advance, which is conducted by the host who will preside over the hearing. All participants in the hearing, including witnesses, must participate. These sessions ensure that the technology works for each participant. Connection issues will be resolved. Participants will receive an orientation to the Zoom platform and will be able to ask technical questions.
11) Preparing to join the hearing
Following one of the methods just covered (connecting via a link, Join Meeting, or telephone), you should join the Zoom meeting a minimum of 15 minutes before the scheduled start time, to allow the host to test the connection and the audio and video and to ensure that there are no problems. After that, you may mute your microphone and finalize your setup before the hearing begins. You may also choose to turn off your video.
Remember to check your surroundings and to ask yourself these questions:
- What will other participants see behind you?
- Can you close the door to minimize the risk of interruptions?
Here are some other things to check before the proceeding starts:
- Do you have easy access to all the documents you need?
- Is your computer or laptop plugged to make sure you don’t run out of power?
- Have you closed any streaming video or VPN connections?
- Do you have a glass of water available, as you would in a regular meeting room?
Review the Tips and Tricks document to ensure that you have the proper settings, follow the suggested videoconferencing etiquette, and appropriately prepare for your proceeding.
If you are a participant in a proceeding, ensure that you have set up a way of communicating with colleagues, counsel, or a representative outside the Zoom platform, e.g., an email address or a phone number, in the event you have technical issues and need to use it.
The Board will also provide you with the email address and emergency phone information of the host, which you can use to resolve technical issues when connecting to the hearing/mediation.
12) Meeting controls
Here is a brief introduction to Zoom’s meeting controls. Note that these screen shots were from a Windows computer — the interface on a smartphone, an iPad, or an Apple computer may look a little different, but the functions will be the same.
Once you have been accepted out of the Waiting Room, you will find a ribbon at the bottom of the screen that contains the most important meeting controls. If you do not see the ribbon, hover your mouse near the bottom of your screen. The ribbon looks like this:
Mute turns off your microphone, which can also be done via Alt-A on your keyboard as an on-off switch. You can also temporarily unmute yourself using the space bar. Observers should ensure they are on mute for the entire session.
Stop Video/Start Video is used to turn your camera off or on. Observers should keep their video off for the entire session.
Keep in mind that while you may choose whether to be on mute or whether to enable and disable your camera, the host may make also make that choice for you. It is always a good idea to be on mute when you’re not speaking, to avoid background noise.
Participants shows who is active. You can use it to specify your name and your role. To rename yourself,
- click “Participants” on the ribbon (see the picture above); then
- click “Rename” next to your name and add your role.
Breakout Rooms appears only on the host’s screen, who will use that function to place participants into breakout rooms.
More will come later in this document on Chat and Share Screen. Reactions should not be used in Board proceedings unless the Board member/mediator and the parties’ representatives discuss it.
13) Speaker View and Gallery View
You have a number of options for seeing the other participants. On a computer, at the top right of your screen, you can toggle between Speaker View and Gallery View.
- In Speaker View, the person speaking will fill the majority of the screen, and the others will be minimized and appear in a row at the top. This works well in a hearing setting, in which you want to focus on the person speaking (e.g., a representative or witness). During an examination, the active speaker screen will move back and forth between the representative and the witness.
- In Gallery View, all video participants will appear as the same size. You may wish to use this view at the beginning of a proceeding or during a breakout room session.
- In Gallery View, a black box indicates that a participant is not using video (e.g., an observer). You can remove them from the gallery view by right-clicking on one of them and selecting Hide Non-Video Participants. You can still see the entire list of participants (including observers) via the Participant button.
- You can also decide to pin someone’s video, e.g., of the Board member/mediator or a representative or counsel, this way:
- Click Participants on the menu ribbon.
- Select the name of the person you want to pin, then select Pin Video or Spotlight Video.
- If you have two monitors, you can configure Zoom so that a pinned video or shared screen will appear on your secondary screen. In a zoom meeting, look for the Stop video button and click on the small arrow in the top right corner:
From the menu, select Video settings, choose the General option, then select the Use dual monitors option. Note that this will take effect not immediately but only upon re-entry to the meeting following either a return to a meeting or after leaving a breakout room.
14) Zoom’s chat function
The Chat function allows participants to communicate via text message during a meeting rather than verbally. Full chat mode allows the participants to send messages to the host or to Everyone or to send private messages between them. Always keep chats professional, and do not discuss anything confidential in them.
In most Board proceedings, Chat will be completely disabled or limited to communicating only with the host, and it is to be used only to address technical issues related to the proceeding, such as a loss of video or sound, or to indicate that a required participant has lost its connection.
15) Breakout rooms
At hearings and mediations, the meeting host will have set up Breakout Rooms to allow parties to speak privately, without the other participants present. Creating these rooms will be discussed ahead of time with the Board member/mediator.
A typical setup of breakout rooms would include the following:
- one for the grievor and his or her representative;
- one for the employer and client participants;
- one for the Board member/mediator and host;
- a second one for the Board member/mediator to meet with the parties’ representatives; and
- at hearings, one for observers.
Here are some breakout room tips:
- While in a breakout room, use Participants to show who is there.
- Ask for Help on the menu ribbon will contact the host.
- When the host joins, his or her video will appear.
- When you leave, press Leave Breakout Room, NOT Leave Meeting.
- If you do leave the meeting, click the link again or enter the ID number and password and then return to the main room.
- Please refer to the Zoom help centre for details on participating in breakout rooms.
The Board member/mediator may discuss with the parties whether they wish to be placed in their breakout rooms before a proceeding starts or during a break. Participants should always check to ensure that the right people are in the room before starting a confidential discussion.
The board member/mediator will normally tell the parties how long a break in the proceedings will take. The host may message participants and ask if they are ready to finish the breakout room or may enter the breakout room to check on progress. At the end of the break period, the board member/mediator will ask the host to end breakout rooms. Participants will be notified of this and can ready themselves to re-enter the main room.
16) What to do if your Zoom meeting disconnects
- Try reconnecting by using the same steps described earlier in this document to join a Zoom proceeding — see sections 6 to 8.
- If you are using Zoom on your cellphone or other device, enter the meeting ID and password from the email invitation to join the hearing.
- Call the host (you will be provided a number just before the proceeding begins).
The Board has released reference documents for witnesses at hearings and advising them of their role in a videoconference proceeding.
Here are some technical points with respect to witnesses:
- When a witness is asked to leave the hearing room while the Board member discusses an issue with the representatives or counsel, the host will be asked to place the witness in the “Waiting Room” or in a breakout room set up for that purpose. The host will return them to the hearing room on the Board member’s request.
- When a Board member has ordered the exclusion of witnesses, no witness shall be admitted to the hearing room or a breakout room until after his or her testimony is completed and the Board member has informed the witness that she or he may step down from the witness box.
- After the witness is finished, it is up to a party’s representative to ask for that witness to be included in future breakout rooms, if they wish.
18) Managing documents
The Board’s videoconferencing guidelines provide that it will set the direction with respect to the document exchange before the hearing. The direction may differ from Board member to Board member or from proceeding to proceeding.
However, parties will always be strongly encouraged to agree to a joint book of documents to be submitted on consent. The Board member may also request that the parties develop an agreed statement of facts, even if their ability to do so is limited to listing key dates and events.
Remember that all documents must always be in a format that can be shared in advance with the parties and witnesses electronically and that they must be paginated for ease of reference during the hearing.
All participants (representatives, clients, and witnesses) will need to have a means to view documents on a screen, whether via a separate device or on the same one being used for the Zoom meeting. Having two monitors may make navigating digital documents easier.
A common approach would be to require the following:
- 1. provide all documents in PDF, paginated with a hyperlinked table of contents;
- 2. all PDF documents should use a naming convention that includes the title followed by the proceeding name;
- 3. a typical set of document may include the following, with sample document names:
- i) joint book of documents (volume X of Y) 566-XX-YYYYY,
- ii) union-contested documents (volume X of Y) 566-XX-YYYYY,
- iii) employer-contested documents (volume X of Y) 566-XX-YYYYY, and
- iv) agreed statement of facts 566-XX-YYYYY; and
- 4. all documents must be provided to the Board’s registry officer by a specified deadline established by the Board (e.g., three to five days before the proceeding is to start).
Note that the Board cannot accept documents that are 25 MB or larger. Any larger files must be divided into smaller documents.
Keep in mind that all participants, including the Board member, witnesses, and the other party’s representative, must be able to quickly find and refer to documents during testimony and argument. Commonly, the Board member will ask parties both to refer to the document (e.g., “tab 30 of volume 2 of the union book of documents”) AND to reference the page number, to allow faster navigation through a digitized PDF book of documents using the page number navigation tool, this way:
- A Board member may order that hard copies be provided in advance of a proceeding.
- A Board member may have to establish protocols for sharing documents electronically that may become the subject of a confidentiality order.
- If a party does not wish to email certain documents to certain witnesses, it will need to break them into volumes when providing them in advance.
19) Sharing a screen and file sharing
The Board has determined that given the limitations of videoconferencing, as much as possible, all documents must be exchanged in advance.
However, the Zoom platform does allow for sharing documents on the screen. The Board member may allow it if a party has a document that it could not include in a book of documents prepared in advance or to simply ensure that all participants see the same document. The Board member may require a sidebar discussion with representatives (in a breakout room) before agreeing to allow a document to be introduced that way. A mediator might use the Share Screen option to review the agreement to mediate or to present information about the mediation process.
Share Screen is in the middle of the main menu ribbon. The host will have been directed to control permission to share the screen. The Board member will direct the party wishing to display a document when to click Share Screen, and that party will have to choose the appropriate computer window to be displayed.
Once screen sharing begins, the document will take up the majority of the screen, and the meeting participants’ videos will become much smaller.
The person displaying the document will have control over what part of it is seen and may be directed to scroll down or move through its pages by either the Board member or a witness. However, the host can give control of the document to another person (e.g., a witness) so that they can navigate through the document themselves.
Some service providers will also support the use of a secure file sharing technology such as DropBox or GoogleDrive to allow documents to be uploaded so that all participants (the member, other parties, and witnesses) can view or download them.
- a) How to change Zoom’s language
- Search for “Zoom” in your Start menu to launch the program.
- Right-click the Zoom icon, hover over Switch Languages, and then select the desired language:
- Search for “Zoom” in your Start menu to launch the program.
- b) How to add a virtual background
- Save the virtual background to your computer. You may choose to use a neutral one (a blank wall, for example). You may also use your own neutral space.
- If you wish to use one, set it up before the proceeding begins.
- With Zoom open, click on the upward arrow (caret) to the right of Stop Video to open the pop-up menu, then click Choose Virtual Background.
- Click the plus sign (“+”) next to Choose Virtual Background and select the picture you saved to your computer.
21) More information
Go to the FPSLREB’s website for videoconferencing guidelines, tips and tricks, witness guidelines, policies, and directives.
Where required, the Board’s registry can provide information on technical requirements for microphones in a proceeding that involves simultaneous interpretation.
You may also wish to visit the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada’s resource guide on privacy tips for videoconferencing.
We welcome your feedback and suggestions on this guide. If you have any comments or suggestions, please email them to (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Practical questions about real files and hearings that need to be resolved by a registry officer (electronic filing, for example) can be sent to email@example.com.