Most collective agreements include time limits for a grievance. If you miss these time limits, you put the whole grievance in jeopardy.
Do not risk losing a good grievance by missing time limits.
Your provincial or federal labour relations act may say that an arbitrator may extend the time for the taking of any step in the grievance procedure under a collective agreement, even if the time limits have run out, if the arbitrator is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for the extension and that the employer will not be “substantially prejudiced,” as, for example, when the events in question happened so long ago that witnesses are no longer available.
Remember that even if there are cases where time limits might be set aside, it is still far safer to diligently follow them and keep written records of the steps taken.
Keep to specified time limits for filing of grievances and appeals. See that the employer replies within the time limits. If they do not answer within the time limits, go forward to the next step, noting on the grievance that the employer missed the limits.
Keep the member informed at all stages as to the progress of his or her grievance.
See that there is a written reply for every written grievance. Sometimes the employer will try to avoid giving a written answer. Insist they do.
Keep the union fact sheet or investigation file separate from the grievance form. The fact sheet gives details of the member’s past record, like warning notices and attendance. It should also include names and addresses of witnesses. The employer should only receive the official grievance form.
A file of grievances and replies should be maintained in the union office. It provides information absolutely necessary for arbitration proceedings and a source of information for the bargaining committee about what contract clauses need to be rewritten and how.