Closing the Gender Pay Gap: New Transparency Law in BC

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In a significant move towards gender pay equality, the province of British Columbia has taken a major step by implementing the Pay Transparency Act. Effective November 1, employers in British Columbia are now obligated to include salary or wage information in all public job postings. Employers will also be required to publicly post reports on the gender pay gap within their organizations. This legislation not only promotes wage transparency but also strives to bridge the persistent gender pay gap.

The new law, alongside other measures like raising the provincial minimum wage, is a step towards closing the gender pay gap. It also seeks to eradicate detrimental wage practices, such as employers asking prospective employees about their pay history or penalizing employees who disclose their pay to potential job applicants. Under this legislation, employers cannot dismiss, suspend, demote, discipline or harass an employee who asks their employer about their pay or reveals their pay to another employee or someone applying to work with their employer.

However, employers may still use the pay history information they already have about that employee to determine the pay for a new position or rely on publicly accessible information on the pay for similar positions.

The Ongoing Gender Pay Gap
Despite recent progress in addressing gender pay equality, the gender pay gap in British Columbia remains substantial. According to Statistics Canada, women in B.C. still earn 17 percent less than men. This disparity mirrors the national statistics, where the gender pay gap stands at 17.1 percent, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The impact of the pay gap extends beyond gender, disproportionately affecting Indigenous women, women from visible minorities, immigrant women, and those who identify along the gender continuum, including non-binary, transgender, and two-spirit individuals. The B.C. government is aiming to go beyond the traditional gender binary and become the “first jurisdiction in Canada to take this approach.”

Enforcement and Penalties
All employers in British Columbia, with the exception of those covered by the federal Employment Equity Act, will be required to follow these rules. While the Pay Transparency Act itself does not outline specific penalties for noncompliant employers, existing pay equity protections under section 12 of the Human Rights Code prevent wage discrimination based on sex.

British Columbia’s Pay Transparency Act is a step toward closing the gender pay gap and promoting fairness and equality in the workplace. With this legislation, the province is fostering a more equitable work environment, ensuring that everyone is paid fairly for their contributions. If you are an employee who feels you are not being paid fairly, you may have a claim of discrimination under the BC Human Rights Code. Schedule an appointment with one of our lawyers today to assist you in filing a claim with the BC Human Rights Tribunal.

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