AuthorChristopher Rootham
 
e terms and condit ions of employment of the federal gover nment’s quarter of
a million cu rrent workers are set out in statutes, c ollective agreements, Treas-
ury Board d irectives, regu lations, ministe rial orders, and other do cuments that
consume bookshel ves of loose-leaf bind ers. Human resou rces personnel are
recruited into the system, spend a career attempting to understand it and die
out of it.
With that somewhat macabre descr iption, the Supreme Court of Canad a
introduced the topic of this book, Federal Public Service L abour and Employ-
ment Law. e title itself is anomalous because it refers to bot h “labour” and
“employment” law. In t he Canad ian ta xonomy of indust rial relat ions, “ labour”
law refers to the laws that govern employees who are represented by trade u nions
and whose relationship with employers is consequently governed by collective
agreements; “employment” law refers to the laws that govern employees who are
not represented by trade unions and therefore have an ind ividual, contract ual
relationship with their employer. Canadi an textbooks typica lly address one topic
or the other; those rare texts that address both topics still divide the work world
into unionized a nd non-unionized workplaces. “Emp loyment” law is s imply not
relevant for union ized employees because they no longer have an indiv idual rela-
tionship with their employer: the i ndividual relat ionship has become subsumed
by the collective relationship be tween their trade union and their employer.
Vaughan v. Canada, []  S.C.R.  at pa ra. , Binnie J.
For example, Labour Law Casebook Group,For example, Labou r Law Casebook Group, Labour and Employment Law: Cases, Mate-
rials and Commen tary, th ed. (Toronto: Irwin Law, ).
Isidore Garon ltée v. Tremblay; Fillion e t Frères () inc. v. Syndicat national des em-
ployés de garage du Québec inc., []  S.C.R.  at para. . Some st atutory protections
4          
In the federal public ser vice, however, labour and employment law remain
relevant to al l employees. Employees represented by a barga ining agent still have
many of their terms and conditions of employment deter mined otherw ise than
by collective bargai ning, and have the right to pursue cer tain rights and recou rses
without their union’s consent. Employees who are not represented by a bargai ning
agent must refer certain di sputes to a grievance procedure, and (in some cases) to
determination by an independent thi rd-party dec ision-maker — in other words,
they are required to u se a system of recourse that mirrors the a rbitration system
that is typica lly limited to unioniz ed employees. erefore, any book concerning
the federal public ser vice inevitably dea ls with some aspe cts of topics usually
considered to be within t he separate spheres of labour and employment law.
e very title of this b ook, and the necessity of w riting a book about the
federal public service, speaks to one of the three theses of this book: exception-
alism. Federal publ ic service labou r and employment law is exceptional, i n that
there are a number of signic ant dierences bet ween labour and employment
law governing the federal public ser vice and labour and employment law in other
jurisdictions (whether t he federally reg ulated private sector, provincia l public
services, or t he provincial ly regulated private sec tor). is introduction wil l ex-
plain the th ree theses of this book: t hat federal public service l abour and employ-
ment law is about the waxing a nd waning of two concepts: t he merit principle
and free collect ive bargaining; that federal publ ic service and employment law is
“exceptional,” and not usual ly in a positive way; and t hat the role played by the
judiciary and t he concept of the “rule of law” is more important in federa l public
service labour and employment law than in labou r and employment law in the
private sector. Before setting out the se three these s in turn, th is book will  rst
explore the nature and cha racteristics of the federal public ser vice.
is book is not about basic concepts in labour or employment law. Rather,
this book is about labour and employment law concepts a s they apply to the fed-
eral public serv ice. Some of those concepts are sim ilar to those i n the private
sector, or in other public sector lega l regimes. In fac t, many of the issues in this
book are simila r to the issues faced in other jurisd ictions. Where that is the case,
the law from other jurisd ictions is noted and discussed, but not in det ail. In most
cases, th is book focuses on the labou r and employment law that applies to the
federal public serv ice. is book al so does not contain a complete list of e very
judicial or admi nistrative deci sion governing public serv ice labour and employ-
ment law. Rather, it is meant to provide the leading cases a nd, where appropriate,
a representative sa mple of decisions to explain or provide exa mples of particular
for individua l employees remain in place, whe re those statutory provi sions are capable
of being incorpor ated into a collective ag reement.

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