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B.C. unveils pay transparency legislation in bid to boost equal pay for equal work

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March 7, 2023
By Talent Canada

Photo: Government of B.C.

British Columbia has introduced pay transparency legislation, which it says will help close the gender pay gap in the province.

Once the legislation is passed, as of Nov. 1, 2023, all employers will be required to include wage or salary ranges on all publicly advertised jobs, it said. In addition, employers will not be able to ask prospective employees for pay history information or punish employees who disclose their pay to co-workers or potential job applicants — actions known to contribute to the gender pay gap, it said.

“People deserve equal pay for equal work. We’ve been taking action to close the pay gap since 2017 with investments in child care and training, and increases to the minimum wage. Today, we’re taking the next step – all employers need to be transparent about what people are being paid to close the pay gap between men and women,” said Kelli Paddon, Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity. “Our work doesn’t end here. We’re determined to continue our engagement with all of our partners to close the pay gap and ensure people get the fair payment they deserve.”

Companies will be required to post public reports

When the legislation is passed, starting in November 2023, B.C. employers will gradually be required to publicly post reports on their gender pay gap. This requirement is being introduced in stages – by number of employees – to give employers time to prepare, as follows:

  • Nov. 1, 2023: BC Public Service Agency and Crown corporations with more than 1,000 employees (ICBC, BC Hydro, WorkSafeBC, BC Housing, BC Lottery Corporation and BC Transit).
  • Nov. 1, 2024: all employers with 1,000 employees or more
  • Nov. 1, 2025: all employers with 300 employees or more
  • Nov. 1, 2026: all employers with 50 employees or more

“Everyone deserves fair working conditions. Being transparent about the wages an employer pays its workers brings us one step closer to reducing the gender pay gap,” said Harry Bains, Minister of Labour. “Our government is committed to keep working together to eliminate wage discrimination and empowering all workers.”

Each year by June 1, the Ministry of Finance will publish an annual report that will serve as centralized reporting of gender pay in British Columbia.

Regulations being developed

Regulations are also being developed for the fall that will provide employers with more details about how they will be required to report on the pay gap.

The goal is also to ensure that addressing the pay gap goes beyond the gender binary, making B.C. the first jurisdiction in Canada to take this approach, the province said.

The pay gap also disproportionately impacts Indigenous women, women of colour, and immigrant women, as well as women with disabilities and non-binary people. In developing reporting regulations, B.C. will look at ways demographic data can be safely collected from employees using the province’s Gender and Sex Data Standard and work underway that follows the new Anti-Racism Data Act.

Human rights

Pay discrimination is prohibited in B.C. under the Human Rights Code. If employees are experiencing discrimination in the workplace, including pay discrimination, they can file a claim with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal.

The introduction of pay transparency legislation follows engagement that included Indigenous partners, business associations, organized labour, employee associations, employment and legal advocates, municipalities, and the non-profit and public sectors.

According to Statistics Canada, in 2022 women in B.C. earned 17 per cent less than men. Average hourly wages for men were $35.50 while women earned an average wage of $29.53 per hour. For Indigenous, racialized and newcomer women, the gap is higher:

  • Indigenous women working full time earned an average of $26.74 per hour.
  • Visible minority women earned an average of $27.44 per hour.
  • Immigrant women earned an average of $28.78 per hour.

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