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Unionized Workplaces

Workers and employers in unionized workplaces have the same rights and responsibilities as they have in other workplaces. They must follow the rules set by employment and human rights laws. They may also have additional rights and responsibilities under their collective agreement.

Workers in unionized workplaces elect members to represent their interests. These members negotiate with the employer to establish working conditions. The negotiated terms are included in a collective agreement. Many unions have local, regional and national offices.

A collective agreement cannot take away any legal rights. Parties cannot contract out of the rights and obligations or minimum standards in law such as The Saskatchewan Employment Act and The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code. A collective agreement can include additional rights and responsibilities and set out the process to deal with issues such as workplace sexual harassment.

Unions are required by law to be democratic and accountable to their members. All individual members are entitled to vote on whether to accept the collective agreement negotiated by the union.

About 1/3 of Canadian workers belong to unions, including nurses, teachers, firefighters, journalists and professional athletes, as well as the more traditionally unionized occupations like retail store clerks, manufacturing workers, auto workers, miners, electricians and construction trade workers. ~ Canadian Labour Congress

Some workplaces, such as banks, airlines, railroads and radio broadcasters, are governed by federal law not provincial law. Unions in these workplaces also have the responsibilities outlined in the following sections and workers represented by unions in these workplaces have the same rights.

Remedies in a Unionized Workplace

Understanding what remedies are open to you in a unionized workplace can help you make an informed choice about the option(s) that you can exercise if you are dealing with workplace sexual harassment.

Collective Agreements

A collective agreement sets out the terms of employment an employer and the union have agreed to. It can cover a wide range of issues including workplace sexual harassment.

Breach of a Collective Agreement - Grievances

Sexual harassment is generally a breach of a collective agreement. Collective agreements have procedures for dealing with breaches of the agreement.

Arbitration

If a grievance cannot be resolved, the union can decide to take the grievance to arbitration. The Arbitrator makes a final decision about the grievance after hearing from both sides.

Do I Have to Complain to the Union?

Employees in unionized workplaces have the same rights as employees in other workplaces but disputes about the collective agreement must go through the union.

This section provides only general information about dealing with sexual harassment in a unionized workplace. This can be a complex area of the law and some issues in this area of the law are subject to change based on decisions in new court cases. You may need legal advice from a lawyer to determine your options in your specific situation. If you have experienced workplace sexual harassment in Saskatchewan you are entitled to up to 4 hours of free legal advice. Learn More

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This site provides general information about workplace sexual harassment only. It is not a substitute for receiving legal advice about your situation. Apply now to receive 4 hours of free legal advice.

The Shift Project is funded by the Department of Justice and delivered by the Public Legal Education Association of Saskatchewan (PLEA).