Let’s talk about equal pay

Monday 18th September is International Equal Pay Day 2023. Get expert advice on equal pay to protect and prepare your business this International Equal Pay Day and beyond…

First published on Friday, Sep 15, 2023

Last updated on Monday, Sep 18, 2023

5 min read

Closing the gender pay gap may take over 200 years.(1) That’s a dismal statistic for 2023!

International Equal Pay Day 2023 represents efforts towards the achievement of equal pay for work of equal value.

Plus, did you know if your business has over 250 employees, you’re required by law to publish your gender pay gap figures?

According to recent figures, the Canadian national average gender pay gap is 89% meaning that women typically earn 87 cents for each $1 earned by a man.(2)

And It's not just Canada that’s affected by unequal pay, across the globe the gender pay gap is estimated at around 20%. (3) So, it’s clear there's still work to be done. In Canada, men and women are legally required to get equal pay for work that is considered "equal" in terms of similarity, equivalence, or value.

This means you can’t pay an employee less compared to another employee of the opposite sex who is doing equal work for you, or your employees could file a claim against you. So, what can you do to make sure your business embraces equal pay and stays in line with equality laws?

Equal pay and the law

The Pay Equity Act and pay transparency legislation as well as Human Rights Law protect employees against wage discrimination, but it’s not just pay that the law applies to.

You also can't discriminate against employees based on gender; employees must receive equal contractual terms and conditions, like vacation entitlements, benefits, and performance-based bonuses.

So, how can you make sure you pay your staff equally and fairly?

To reduce your risk of unequal pay, it’s best practice to:

  • Have an equal pay policy in place to protect your people and your business.
  • Make sure your job descriptions are up-to-date and accurate.
  • Check that your job titles are the same, no matter the sex of your employee.
  • Provide better training for hiring staff to reduce pay discrimination from the start.
  • Establish fair pay scales or pay grades for each of your roles based on the position, level of responsibility, and experience.
  • Use a salary calculator tool to keep your pay offering equal and at market rate.
  • Promote pay transparency to build trust and help close the gender pay gap.

And equal pay isn’t just important for legal reasons…

Paying staff equally in your business can improve your reputation, increase staff motivation and productivity, and form a key part of your social responsibility and culture — which are two very important priorities for job seekers which make your company more attractive.

Remember, ignoring important employee rights like equal pay has risks for your business…

If one of your employees feels they’re not getting equal pay, they may be able to take legal action against you.

They could make a claim to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal for equal pay or make a claim for sex discrimination, so it’s best to take action before you land yourself in the worst-case scenario.

Our 24/7 employment relations advice line, BrightAdvice, is the ideal solution to give you peace of mind. You can get quick and reliable advice from our team of experts who are always ready to help you stay on the right side of the law.

Want to speak to one of our friendly advisors to find out how BrightAdvice can protect your business? Book a free demo today.

Have more questions on equal pay or something else?

We’ve got thousands of answers to all your HR and health & safety dilemmas.

Ask BrightLightning:

Who has the right to equal pay?

Any employee who feels they are not receiving the same amount of pay as their coworkers for doing the same work because of their gender, sex, or other protected characteristics as stated in the applicable human rights legislation.

What is equal pay?

Equal pay is when employees are given the same wage as someone doing the same/similar work or work of equal value. This is most commonly raised due to male and female employees being paid differently but can apply to any situation when there are differences in employees' pay.

How long does an employee have to work for to raise a claim for equal pay?

There is no minimum amount of service needed to make an equal pay claim; this can be done from the recruitment stage of employment.

Ask another question…

(1) The Facts about the Gender Pay Gap – Canadian Women’s Foundation

(2) The Gender Wage Gap Its More Than You Think – Pay Equity Office Ontario

(3) International Equal Pay Day- United Nations

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