How to handle grievances

This document has been created as a reference and is a live working document, meaning this document can be changed, added to and  edited as required. We are hoping this is a helpful tool. Any comments or changes can be forwarded to the Union of Veterans’ Affairs Employee (UVAE) office for implementation.

Service Officer:

The service officer is responsible for the representation of members’ grievances at the 3rd level and moving grievances to adjudication where applicable. The officer present staffing complaints to the Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board (PSLREB). The officer provides advice and guidance to Regional Vice-President (RVPs), local executives and members when needed on a daily basis on various employee/employer related questions.

Values and Ethics:

As union officials of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) we  are responsible to uphold the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) policy on Harassment at all union functions.   As well, as employees of the federal public service, we are responsible to uphold the Treasury Board Secretariat’s (TBS) Values and Ethics code. These policies and values should be upheld at all union functions to create an atmosphere of respect and inclusion for all. Remember, when participating at group functions, whether it be at meetings, conventions or conferences, you, as an elected official of the Union of Veterans’ affairs employees (UVAE), are responsible for setting an example for others.                          

In brief, the grievance handling is a three-step process.  At any point throughout this process, you as Regional Vice President (RVP) may be contacted to provide guidance and assistance. Should you require additional help, the Union of Veterans’ Affairs Employees (UVAE) National Service Officer, as well as your Regional Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) representatives, are available.

Also, important to note, grievance timelines may be extended by mutual agreement of the union, management and grievor.  This extension may be requested at any time by any of the parties.

Information Gathering and review of facts

When an employee believes they have been wronged, they should contact the Local Shop Steward. The Shop Steward will go through an information gathering process in order to determine the most appropriate way to move forward with the complaint. For example: informal discussion, conflict resolution, grievance, and type (individual, group, policy, dismissal, etc.).

When collecting information and filing a grievance remember the basics:

  • Who is involved? The grievor, the witness(es) – need their contact information, department, job title, etc;
  • What happened? What are those involved prepared to do? What are those who were not involved prepared to do.
  • Where did the grievance take place? Be specific.
  • When did the incident or problem occur? Document dates and times.
  • Why is this a grievance? It is a conflict or problem that contravenes an article or articles of the collective agreement or other legislation; and
  • What does the grievor want as a remedy?

Staffing Complaints

Staffing complaints are radically different from grievances in several ways.

  • The time limit to file a staffing complaint is 15 CALENDAR DAYS from the initial date of appointment.  This cannot be stressed enough as it is a very short time frame compared to a grievance.
  • A staffing complaint requires a letter or the use of the Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board (PSLREB) Staffing Complaint Form NOT a grievance form. See Appendix K for sample Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board (PSLREB) Staffing Complaint of form.
  • The complaint must be filed with the Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board (PSLREB) directly, not the employee’s manager.
  • There is only one level to the complaint process, which is a formal hearing with the Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board (PSLREB). There are no grievance hearings within the department.
  • A staffing complaint contains several layers of processes that are radically different from the grievance process, including disclosure, informal discussions, and mediation. These are very legalistic in nature and as such, it is strongly recommended that all staffing complaints be handled by a Service Officer.

For more see Procedural Guide for Staffing Complaints (PSLREB)

Step One: First Level Grievance – Local representation

Local representation is responsible for the First Level grievance presentations, i.e., local shop steward, local president, or other representatives.  Where the local representatives are not available the Regional Vice-President (RVP) may be called upon to present at this level as well.

The written grievance must be submitted to the first level of management within 25 business days of the circumstances which resulted in the complaint and giving rise to the grievance. The written grievance must describe the nature of the complaint you are making, and the corrective measures being requested.

Once submitted, the designated management representative has 10 days to reply to the complaint.  This is typically a scheduling of a meeting where first level management will hear the local presentation of the conditions that lead to the grievance submission.  After the meeting is held, management has 10 days to reply to the presented information with their findings and possible restorative measures.  If the grievor is not satisfied with the response, the grievance would then be transmitted to the next step in the grievance process.

Step Two: Second Level Grievance – Regional Regional Vice-President (RVP) representation

The transmittal of a second level grievance must be submitted within 10 business days of receiving the results of the first level grievance, or within 15 business days, if management has not responded to the first level grievance presentation. The transmittal form is completed and forwarded to second level of management, typically the EX-level.

Once submitted, management has 10 business days to reply the second level submission. Much like the first level, a meeting is held and presentation by the Regional Vice-President (RVP) of the condition(s) which warranted the grievance submission is discussed with second (or third) level management.

After the meeting is held, management has 10 business days to reply to the presented information with their findings and possible restorative measures.  If the grievor is still not satisfied with the response, the grievance could then be transmitted to the next step in the grievance process.

Step Three: Third Level Grievance – National representation

The presentation of the third and final level grievance is done at the National level by a Union of Veterans’ affairs employees (UVAE) Service Officer. All information gathered up to this point needs to be presented and discussed with the service officer in order to provide them with as much detail as possible to help them in their role and ultimately employee. The third level grievance must be transmitted within 10 business days of the notification of the previous decision. This is presented to Senior management, typically at the Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM) level. At this level, management has 20 business days to respond to the presentation by the union.

Should the grievor still not be satisfied with the decision of management, the National Service Officer will work with the Regional Vice-President (RVP) and the employee in determining if the case should be presented to Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) for possible adjudication.

There are strict legal timelines (30 calendar days) to both file the initial grievance and refer them to the next level.  Failure to meet any of these deadlines could result in the grievance being considered abandoned.

Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board (PSLREB)

The Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board (PSLREB) is the independent, quasi-judicial body that hears grievances which have been unresolved after the three levels of the departmental grievance process and subsequently referred to them by the bargaining agent.

A Board member, known as an Adjudicator, hears arguments from both sides involved in the conflict and renders a binding decision based on the merits of the case, legal doctrine and existing juri sprudence.

Only grievances which refer to the collective agreement (CA) can be referred to the Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board (PSLREB).

Previous Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board (PSLRB) decisions