Coast-to-coast look at the trend towards pay transparency across Canada
By John Hyde | Hyde HR Law
In the past year, British Columbia passed its Pay Transparency Act while Ontario proposed pay transparency provisions within Bill 149, “Working for Workers Four Act, 2023.” While not all provinces and territories have pay transparency legislation, in the past few years, there has been a growing trend across Canada towards greater pay transparency and introducing such legislation.
In 2018, Ontario passed the Pay Transparency Act, 2018. However, following a change in government, that legislation never actually came into force.
More recently, in November 2023, Ontario has included pay transparency provisions within its proposed Bill 149, “Working for Workers Four Act, 2023.” The proposed provisions would require employers to provide the expected compensation, or range of compensation, for public job postings.
In May 2023, British Columbia’s Pay Transparency Act came into force, which immediately prohibited employers from asking job applicants how much they were paid in their previous positions. Employers were also prohibited from disciplining or dismissing an employee who asks about pay, reveals their pay to a fellow employee or prospective employee, asks the employer about its pay transparency report, or provides information to the Director of Pay Transparency.
As of November 2023, if an employer lists job postings publicly, they are required to provide wage and salary information for those public job postings.
Further, BC is gradually introducing the requirement for employers to complete and post pay transparency reports on all of their BC employees. The date by which certain employers will be required to complete and post annual transparency reports is as follows:
- As of Nov. 1, 2023: the BC government, BC Hydro, BC Housing, BC Lottery Corp., BC Transit, ICBC, and Work Safe BC.
- As of Nov. 1, 2024: employers with 1,000 or more employees.
- As of Nov. 1, 2025: employers with 300 or more employees.
- And as of Nov. 1, 2026: all employers with 50 employees.
Prince Edward Island
In June 2022, Prince Edward Island amended its employment standards legislation to require that employers list expected pay, or range of expected pay, in public job postings. Employers were prohibited from asking job applicants about how much they were paid in their previous positions. They were also prohibited from disciplining or dismissing employees for revealing their pay information to fellow employees, asking the employer about pay or pay policies, asking the employer to comply with the pay transparency provisions, or providing information about the employer’s pay transparency compliance to an Employment Standards Inspector.
Newfoundland and Labrador
In the Fall of 2022, Newfoundland and Labrador passed Bill P-3.02 – An Act Respecting Pay Equity for the Public Sector and Pay Transparency for the Public and Private Sectors. The bill was intended to enact legislation called the Pay Equity and Transparency Act. However, the legislation, at least with respect to the pay transparency provisions, has not yet been implemented.
Once implemented, this legislation will require employers to provide pay information in publicly advertised job postings. Newfoundland and Labrador will also join PEI and BC in prohibiting employers from asking job applicants about their pay history and retaliating against employees who reveal their pay information to fellow employees.
Further, employers will be required to prepare pay transparency reports and they are prohibited from reprising against employees who ask them about such reports.
In Nova Scotia, the Labour Standards Code prohibits employers from asking about job applicants’ or employees’ pay history and also prohibits employers from punishing employees who provide their pay information to fellow employees.
Recently, in October 2023, the Pay Equity and Pay Transparency Act was tabled in Nova Scotia. The Act, as proposed, would require expected pay or expected salary ranges to be included in publicly advertised job postings, require employers to prepare pay transparency reports, and would prohibit employers from disciplining or dismissing an employee who asks about their pay or asks about the employer’s pay policies.
In Manitoba, a proposed Pay Transparency Act has been introduced to legislature twice, but was not adopted either time. While such legislation has not been successful, its repeated introduction demonstrates that there is an interest in such provisions within the province, and as more provinces and territories across Canada adopt similar legislation, that interest may grow.
Lessons for employers
Given that pay transparency legislation has been recently introduced in several provinces, it is important for employers to pay attention to this changing area of law, in order to ensure that they meet the obligations, and restrictions, such legislation imposes on them in each province and territory.
What is permitted, prohibited, or required varies by jurisdiction, so employers who advertise and hire employees across Canada will need to pay particular attention to comply with any pay transparency rules within each jurisdiction that has such provisions.
John Hyde is the managing partner at Hyde HR Law in Toronto. He advises management on all aspects of employment and labour law, including representation before administrative tribunals, collective agreement negotiation, arbitrations, wrongful dismissal defence and human rights.
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