Starting a complaint or an application

How do I file a complaint or an application with the Canada Industrial Relations Board?

The first thing you should do is make sure that the Board is the right place to file your application or complaint. This will depend on the type of application or complaint you want to file and the nature of the employer’s business. 

In most cases, the Canada Industrial Relations Board can only get involved if the employer is a federally regulated business. 

Federally regulated businesses include businesses such as:

  • banks; 
  • interprovincial trucking; 
  • telecommunications;
  • air transportation; and
  • Indigenous band councils and businesses in the three territories of Canada. 

For more information and a full list, please visit our page on federally regulated businesses.

Once you know that you are in the right place, the next thing you should do is visit the appropriate page for the type of complaint or application you want to file, as outlined below. 

There are six categories of applications and complaints:

Labour Relations: Governs relationships between federally regulated employers, their employees and the unions that represent them.

Health and Safety: Reprisal complaints by employees of federally regulated businesses and appeals of decisions or directions by the Labour Program of Employment and Social Development Canada respecting the rights and obligations of employers and employees for the safety and health of workers.

Employment Standards: Appeals and reprisal complaints respecting the minimum conditions of employment that federally regulated employers must provide to employees in areas such as pay, hours of work, leave and severance pay as well as unjust dismissal complaints.

Administrative Monetary Penalties: Appeals of notices of violation and financial penalties imposed on an employer by the Labour Program of Employment and Social Development Canada.

Wage Earner Protection Program: Appeals of decisions from Service Canada concerning the payment of wages owed by a bankrupt or insolvent employer.

Status of the Artist: Governs relationships between producers, the self-employed artists who work for them and the artists’ associations that represent the artists.

If you don’t know what type of application or complaint you want to file, use the Board’s “Where Do I Start?” tool. Answer the questions, and it will lead you to the right page. There, you will find information about:

  • how long you have to file an application or a complaint;
  • a link to the right form to fill out;
  • a description of the information that the Board needs; 
  • how to send the information to the Board; and  
  • what the next steps are after you file your application or complaint.

If there is a form for the type of application or complaint you want to file, we recommend that you use it to ensure that you provide the right information. Once you have filled out the form or written out the details of your application or complaint, you must use the Board’s E-Filing Web Portal to submit your application or complaint.  

VERY IMPORTANT: The Canada Industrial Relations Board decides many cases based on the information in the file. It does not always hold a hearing. This is why it is important that you send the Board all the information that you think is important when you file your application or complaint and that you also tell the Board what you want it to do. It may be the only chance you have to make your case to the Board.