What is the Labour Board?

What is the Labour Board?

by Susan Huebert
Jobs People Do | JobsPeopleDo.com

Recently in Winnipeg, people working for the city government came close to going on strike because their union and the government had trouble coming to an agreement about wages and other issues. The issue was resolved, but situations involving work often need an independent opinion to help resolve them. Canada’s Labour Board works to keep relationships between employers and employees as positive as possible and works to resolve any problems that people encounter.

Each province in Canada has its own labour board with a federal board dealing with national issues. The Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board handles issues between employers and employees, helping to resolve disputes and deal with complaints. Provincial labour boards do the same kind of work in their own regions.

Labour disputes can happen for many reasons. Sometimes, workplaces are unsafe, or employees are not given the salaries or holiday time that they were promised. Often, employers and employees need to agree on a new contract when the old one is about to expire. If the two sides fail to agree on holiday time, paid breaks, and other matters, the labour board might need to help the two sides come to a decision.

Each labour board is supposed to be independent, not favouring either the employers or employees. The idea is that the board can make decisions that benefit both sides, as well as the people who depend on that service. If garbage collectors go on strike, for example, the labour board might be able to help the two sides come to an agreement before the garbage begins to pile up and starts to smell.

The labour board is useful for more than just renewing contracts. Sometimes, an employee might have a serious complaint against an employer. For example, the employee might be forced to work long hours without being paid for overtime work. The employee can go to the labour board to complain about unfair treatment. If the board investigates and finds that the accusation is true, the employee might receive extra compensation for the work and the employer might have to pay a fine.

Unfair layoffs or firings are also part of the labour board’s work. Suppose that the managers of a company told the employees that they were laid off because the company had no money to pay them. If the managers immediately went out and hired other people for a lower wage, the employees might have a cause for complaint. Any employees who are fired unfairly, such as for being younger than the other employees or having a loud voice, could also complain to the labour board.

When a complaint comes to the labour board, a tribunal of board members decides which of the two sides is right and what should be done about the situation. Sometimes the labour board decides in favour of the employer and sometimes the employee. The cases include personal complaints but also matters that affect groups, such as inadequate safety precautions or a lack of time off for medical appointments or other important activities.

Many people can go their entire lives without dealing directly with the labour board. However, the board is still important in the lives of all workers.



Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board. “Labour Relations Boards Across Canada.” https://www.fpslreb-crtespf.gc.ca/en/about-us/lrb-across-canada.html.

Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board. “Mandate.” https://pslreb-crtefp.gc.ca/en/about-us/mandate.html

Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board. “What is the Mandate of the Board?” https://www.fpslreb-crtespf.gc.ca/en/resources/faq.html#q2-1.

Government of Canada. “Labour Program.” https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/corporate/portfolio/labour.html.

Ontario Labour Relations Board. “Notices to Community.” http://www.olrb.gov.on.ca/.

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