Companies who previously had to complete their original pay equity plan by December 31, 2010 must now complete their pay equity maintenance by March 31, 2016, and some companies may be due prior to this date depending on when their last pay equity exercise was completed.
Need a refresher? In 1996, the Pay Equity Act was put in place in Quebec to rectify pay differences caused by systematic discrimination in positions which are predominantly held by females.
In May 2009, the Act was officially modified. Among the changes made, the Act now specifies companies’ obligations with respect to the maintenance of Pay Equity within their companies every 5 years.
The Pay Equity Act applies to companies with 10 employees or more, however even though a company may have less than 10 employees today, if the company was previously subject to the Act they must still perform their maintenance every 5 years.
While many people confuse pay equity with “equal pay for equal work”, the concept of Pay Equity is different and can be defined as equal pay for different but equivalent work. So rather than comparing the pay of a female accountant to the pay of a male accountant, explained simply, pay equity requires that companies determine their predominantly male and female job classes (you can think of a warehouse worker versus a receptionist), determine the value of each position and ensure that female job classes earn the same salary as male job classes of an equivalent value.
While this may seem simple, the Pay Equity Act is actually quite complex and companies must make sure that not only are they using the correct dates, but also that they’re adhering to specific criteria and methods to determine the predominance of job classes, to evaluate the value of each job class and to calculate any required pay adjustments for predominantly female job classes.
A few differences to note between doing the “original” pay equity plan versus the “maintenance”:
- All companies have the same obligations, regardless of the number of employees
- No pay equity committee is required, even for companies with 100 employees or more
- Unions cannot request a separate plan
- Only one posting of the results is required at the end of the exercise, with a follow-up “new” posting responding to any questions received from employees
- Any required pay adjustments must begin within 90 days of the date of the posting, or within 90 days of the deadline if the posting was done after this date.
Companies who do not comply with the Pay Equity Act are liable for penalties ranging from $1,000 to $45,000.
For more information on the Pay Equity Act please consult the website of the CNESST (note that the majority of the site is in French only) or contact FL Fuller Landau’s HR Advisory Team for a free consultation or by phone at (514) 908-4772.