Umpire Hearings | fact sheet

Umpire Hearings | fact sheet

Filing an appeal to an Umpire

An appeal has been filed by serving on the Registrar written notice of appeal specifying the reasons for it and by accompanying the notice of appeal with any amount the employer is required to pay under an order and any fee payable under the regulations to the Director.

Parties to an appeal

The parties to the appeal are the employer or director/former director, the employee (complainant), and the Director of Employment Standards. A representative of Employment Standards attends the appeal hearing on behalf of the Director.

Under the Employment Standards Code (Code), the Director is a party to every appeal to an Umpire and every proceeding resulting from an Umpire’s award. The Director’s representative does not represent the employee/complainant or the employer/director of a corporation at the hearing. Each party to the appeal is independent.

Both the employer or director/former director and employee will receive a letter from the Office of the Registrar confirming that an appeal has been served on the Registrar. Each party is encouraged to contact the Director’s representative if they are interested in resolving the matter and working towards a settlement prior to the appeal hearing. The Director’s representative will relay information to the other party, but will not offer any opinion or advice, and does not advocate for either party.

Notice of Hearing

The Registrar’s office will schedule a date for the hearing and send a Notice of Hearing to the parties detailing the date, time, and location of the hearing. It is the party’s responsibility to ensure their contact information is updated with the Registrar’s office.

The parties are encouraged to attend a preliminary appeal meeting prior to the hearing date to discuss the matter, and review the employment records and supporting evidence submitted by each party to the Registrar’s office. This meeting can also be held by telephone conference.

Due to many circumstances, hearings before an Umpire are booked between 6 to 18 months from the date the appeal is received. Scheduling is based on the availability of the Umpire, the amount of appeal files waiting to be booked for a hearing, and the location of the hearing.

Before the hearing, the parties should send to the assigned Director’s representative any relevant documents such as payroll records and other employment records that were not provided to the Employment Standards Officer who issued the order that has been appealed. All evidence and information will be shared with all parties prior to the hearing. The parties should also review all of the documents submitted and received during the initial investigation and any new documents received. The parties should list any points they wish to make at the hearing and make a list of questions they wish to ask the other parties and the witnesses.

Also, the parties should provide a list of people they intend to call as witnesses. The parties are responsible for securing the attendance of their witnesses for the hearing. If a party believes that an interpreter may be required at the hearing, this must be explained to the Director’s representative as soon as possible.

Hearing and proof of evidence on appeal

Hearings are held before a Provincial Court Judge, presiding as Umpire, in a courtroom in a Provincial courthouse in or near the jurisdiction of the workplace. At the hearing, the Director’s representative presents the Director’s interpretation of legislation and explains how the legislation applies to the case.

Prior to the hearing, the Umpire is provided only with a copy of the document being appealed -- Order of Officer, Director’s order for reinstatement or compensation, Declaration, Collection Notice, or Certificate under appeal, the officer’s worksheet, showing calculations of the amount on the Order of Officer (if applicable), and a copy of the Notice of Appeal.

The hearing is a de novo hearing -- a hearing in which the Umpire deals completely afresh with a matter that has already been heard and decided on by Employment Standards. Parties must present their own evidence at the hearing; otherwise it will not be taken into consideration by the Umpire.

Both parties are required to attend the appeal hearing in person. In some exceptional cases, videoconference may be utilized at the cost to the party requesting it. The videoconference must be between two court houses.

Giving Evidence

In the appeal hearing, the parties give their evidence under oath, and the other parties and the Umpire have the right to cross-examine them.

It is up to the parties to present the information that supports their case. Parties can retain legal counsel (at their own cost) or bring someone to assist them at the hearing.

The Employer or Director/former Director of a Corporation, the Employee/Complainant, and the Director of Employment Standards may call witnesses to give evidence under oath by providing information and answering questions about the issue under appeal. These witnesses may be questioned by the other parties and the Umpire.

If parties bring written statements to the hearing instead of producing witnesses in person, the contents of those statements may not be admitted as evidence and/or may be given less weight by the Umpire than if the person who wrote the statement attended the appeal hearing and gave oral evidence and was questioned.

Failure to appear at a hearing

At a hearing, if the appellant fails to appear:

  • the Umpire may declare the appeal abandoned or adjourn the matter, or
  • if any other person fails to appear, the Umpire may adjourn the matter or proceed in the absence of the person who fails to appear.

Umpire Award

An Umpire is granted authority by the Code to hear appeals and make awards (decisions).

The Umpire may:

  • receive new evidence and may compel the attendance of witnesses,
  • confirm, vary, revoke or substitute anything that is the subject of the appeal and issue a written decision,
  • do anything that the Director or officer could have done under the Code,
  • direct an employee or employer to attend an educational program in employment standards, and/or
  • award costs subject to the regulations.

An Umpire’s decision (award) must be in writing. It is final and cannot be appealed. At most hearings, the Umpire gives his or her decision at the end of the hearing. The Umpire has the right to reserve his or her decision and provide it at a future date. The written Umpire Award is distributed to the parties by the Registrar’s office as soon as possible after the signed copy is received from the Umpire.

More details

How the law applies

Section 95 of the Employment Standards Code (Code) sets out the requirements for an appeal to be filed by an employer or employee with a judge of the Provincial Court of Alberta sitting as an Umpire (Umpire).

The Director of Employment Standards (Director) is a party to every appeal to an Umpire and every proceeding resulting from an appeal under Section 95 of the Code, or resulting from an Umpire’s award.

Disclaimer & copyright notice

This fact sheet contains general information, not legal advice. To interpret or apply the law, you must consult the Employment Standards Code and Employment Standards Regulation. This information is provided ‘as is’, without representation or warranty. The Government of Alberta will not be responsible for any loss or damage arising from your reliance on this information. This fact sheet is provided for your personal or educational use; it cannot be reproduced for commercial distribution.

PID: 15797