Saskatoon Office
10th Floor
Sturdy Stone Building
122 3rd Avenue North
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
S7K 2H6
Regina Office
1600 – 1920 Broad Street
Regina, Saskatchewan
S4P 3V2
(306)787-2406 (telephone)
(306)787-2664 (fax)

Introduction

The Labour Relations Board is a quasi-judicial administrative tribunal established to administer the provisions of The Saskatchewan Employment Act and the Public Service Essential Services Act and other statutes as assigned by the Legislature of Saskatchewan. The Board's overriding duty is to advance the purposes of The Saskatchewan Employment Act as set out at Parts IV, VI, VII and X. of The Saskatchewan Employment Act. The Board’s Registrar is the senior point of contact for anyone having a questions or concerns with matters involving the Board or matters that are before the Board. If there is any concern in respect of that contact or service, those concerns can be relayed to the Chairperson through the established service review request process.

The Board is appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council. The Board consists of a full-time chairperson and vice-chairperson and 20 part-time members. It is constituted with members who are experienced in labour relations and are actively involved in labour relations or recently retired from such positions, either for bargaining agents or employers. Members are represented in equal numbers from employers and bargaining agents. Pursuant to the section 6-100 of The Saskatchewan Employment Act, the members of the board shall have the same privileges and immunities as a judge of the Court of Queen's Bench.

The purpose of these guidelines is to clarify the dual responsibility members have to their respective organizations and to this Board. On the one hand, members are chosen because of their experience in labour relations and the respect in which their expertise is held by the labour relations community. The representative nature of the members enhances the acceptability of Board decisions. It promotes wide ranging discussion and ensures the Board is responsive to the community it serves. Each member understands the general, broad interests of the constituency he or she represents. It is also intended that each member will bring an understanding of the general, broad interests of other constituencies and individuals upon whom the exercise of the Board's powers under The Saskatchewan Employment Act impact.

On the other hand, members take an oath at the commencement of their term with the Board to "faithfully and impartially, to the best of [their] judgment, skill and ability, execute and perform" their duties. All members of the Board are expected to decide cases in a fair and impartial manner, free of irrelevant and inappropriate influences.

Responsibility of Board Members

Members of the Board have a responsibility to conduct themselves in a manner that does not compromise the ability of the Board to accomplish its mandate or undermine the public's confidence in the members' ability to discharge their responsibilities properly. It is expected that members will:

1. act in a manner that enhances the integrity of the Board in the community it serves;

2. not gain an improper advantage through information derived from their association with the Board;

3. only represent the Board in their activities outside the tribunal when specifically authorized to do so; or

4. respect the confidentiality of the Board and not provide information received through their role as members which is not available to the general public, unless prior written authorization is given for its release. Specifically, information obtained through in-camera discussions of the Board relating to Board cases is confidential and is not to be disclosed outside the Board.

Conflict of Interest

Where their role as an active member of the labour relations community puts a member in a position of conflict with the interests of the Board, the member must act quickly to resolve that conflict as set out in the "procedures" that follow:

1. A "real conflict of interest" occurs when a member has a private interest that is sufficient to influence the exercise of his/her duties and responsibilities as a member.

2. A "potential conflict of interest" occurs when there exists a private interest that could influence the exercise of a member's duty or responsibility.

3. An "apparent conflict of interest" exists when there is a reasonable apprehension which a reasonably-well informed person could properly have that a conflict of interest exists on the part of a member.

The Saskatchewan Employment Act established the Board as a representative board with equal numbers of employer and union members. Board panels generally consist of the chairperson, a union member and an employer member. The vice-chairperson also sits as chairperson of Board panels. The member's inherent representative capacity is institutionalized in The Saskatchewan Employment Act and does not operate as a conflict of interest. Board members are expected to bring their labour relations expertise and knowledge to the Board proceedings. A member is responsible for bringing any real or potential conflicts of interest to the attention of the chairperson or vice-chairperson of the Board. Apparent conflicts of interest are raised by parties to the proceedings or by the chairperson or vice-chairperson.

Conflict of interest situations arise in a number of ways. Below are some obvious examples of situations which board members must avoid:

1. Members should not be involved in a decision involving a company in which they or family members are employed or in which they hold a significant financial interest. Members should not make a decision affecting a trade union in which they hold membership or are employed.

2. Members may express their personal views on a labour relations matter. Members, however, should be sensitive to the fact that the expression of opinion by a member in a manner which appears to represent a closed mind on a subject may give rise to an apprehension of bias.

3. A member should not be involved in a file or in making a decision where a familial, close friendship or business interest impairs or appears to impair the member's ability to act impartially in the tribunal's interests.

4. A member must not compromise or undermine the trust which the public places in the tribunal (e.g. disclose in-camera discussions and decisions of the Board).

5. Members should not place themselves in situations where they are obligated to any person who might benefit from or seek to gain special consideration or favour in relation to a decision at work.

Affidavits

Members may be asked to swear affidavits relating to the Board. Members must be aware that such information is privileged under The Saskatchewan Employment Act and is not open to inspection by any person or court. Unless requested by the chairperson or vice-chairperson, members should not provide affidavit or other evidence of facts that have come to their knowledge in the course of their duties as a Board member.

Inquiries from Unions or Employers

Board members are frequently contacted by members of their respective communities for information on Board practice, procedures and decision-making processes. Board members are encouraged to provide such information and to refer the person to the Board Registrar for further assistance, if required. For specific information on past Board decisions, Board members can refer to the Board's publication, the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board Report and its Index or the Board's Website.

A Board member, however, should not engage in any discussions with the parties to a case which is pending before the Board member.

Conflict of Interest Procedures

Where the following types of conflict arise, these procedures will apply:

• 1. The member may conclude their employment, private affairs, or financial interests are in conflict with their duties, responsibilities, and obligations to the Board or may result in a perception that a conflict exists with respect to their participation in a particular application.

Procedure

When a member considers that they have a real, potential or apparent conflict of interest with respect to an application to which they are assigned, that member will immediately advise the chairperson of the panel.

The chairperson may ask the member to step down from the panel. If the member disagrees, the chairperson may decide that the conflict should be disclosed to the parties, so as to allow them to decide whether they wish to waive any concerns regarding the conflict.

It is the responsibility of the member to disclose a conflict at the earliest possible opportunity. If the member has a question as to whether a conflict exists, it is the responsibility of the member to raise the matter with the chairperson of the panel at the earliest opportunity in order to determine whether a conflict exists.

• 2. A party to a proceeding may raise with the panel an apprehension of bias or conflict with respect to the participation of a member(s) of the panel.

Procedure

When a party has raised a conflict of interest, that party will be required, within a reasonable period of becoming aware of the potential conflict, to provide details to the panel and to the other parties to the proceedings of the evidence it intends to rely upon in establishing the apprehension of bias.

If the panel determines a reasonably well informed person would conclude an apprehension of bias exists, the panel will be reconstituted. If the panel concludes a reasonable apprehension of bias does not exist, the parties will be so notified.

• 3. The Board itself may decide that circumstances create a conflict, or an apparent conflict between a member and his/her duties, responsibilities, and obligations with the Board.

Procedure

Where the Board believes a member's outside activities are in conflict with his/her role as a member, the member will be afforded the opportunity to meet with the chairperson to discuss what restrictions, if any, will be imposed upon the member's further participation at the Board. The chairperson will endeavour to ensure that this meeting will occur prior to any restriction being imposed. Any other participants at the meeting will be agreed to by the member and the chairperson.

• 4. A member may be called upon to testify in a proceeding before the Board, or may act as counsel or instructing witness in a proceeding before the Board.

Procedure

Where a member acts as a witness, counsel, or instructing witness before a panel, the member will not participate in any further proceedings with any member of that panel until such time as that panel issues its decision with reasons. It may be necessary to reschedule dates. Therefore, the member is requested to notify the Registrar as soon as practical that they will be acting as counsel, instructing witness or witness at a hearing.

At the outset of each hearing in which a Board member so acts as counsel, instructing witness or witness, the chairperson shall advise the parties to the proceedings of the Board's policy.

Disclosure of Known Conflicts

Board members will provide the Registrar with the following information at the time of their appointment to the Board and shall keep the information up-dated during the term of their appointment:

1. Union or employer affiliation;

2. Spouse's name and place of employment; and

3. Business interests.

MOTION: That the Board adopt Policy 1999/2.

MOVED: Leo Lancaster SECONDED: Mike Geravelis

RESULT OF VOTE: CARRIED