Canada’s new Federal Pay Equity Act is an essential step forward in achieving equal pay within the Canadian private sector. The Act aims to ensure that federally regulated employers prioritize pay equity by examining their current compensation practices, establishing and maintaining a pay equity plan, and ensuring compliance after implementation. On March 23, Global Compact Network Canada had an insightful webinar with the Federal Pay Equity Commissioner Karen Jensen, Derrick Hynes, President and CEO, Federally Regulated Employers – Transportation and Communications (FETCO) and Marie Clarke Walker, Secretary-Treasurer, Canadian Labour Congress. Throughout this webinar, the speakers discussed preliminary actions that organizations can take to prepare for the coming into force of the Act.
Commissioner Jensen explained the essence of the Pay Equity Act and how it can be beneficial for both employers and employees. Commissioner Jensen also explained that by achieving and maintaining pay equity, companies can contribute to reducing the portion of the gender gap due to the undervaluation of work done by women. The idea behind pay equity is comparing two jobs that are male-predominant and female-predominant, even if they are different (e.g. mechanic vs. account technician), to determine whether they contribute equal value to a company and thus should be paid equally. Employers who are covered by the Act will be given three years to develop a pay equity plan and five years after that to address any increases to compensation identified through the pay equity exercise. This process includes:
- Identify job classes in the workplace;
- Determine which one of these jobs are predominantly female or male;
- Determine the value of the work done in each job class;
- Calculate the total compensation for each job class; and
- Compare the compensation to determine whether there are differences between jobs of equal or comparable value.
Furthermore, Derrick Hynes shared some insights from the employers’ perspectives in regards to the Pay Equity Act. The members of FETCO aim to be part of the solution. For instance, they are actively engaged in a working group organized by the Pay Equity Office that brings together employers, employees and unions. Furthermore, Derrick gave an overview of some of the potential challenges with the implementation of the Act and its regulations:
- The requirement for a single plan is the primary issue for employers, due to the complexity and size of different organizations, some employers operate from coast to coast, a single plan may be difficult when it comes to compensation
- When developing the pay equity plan, organizations will need to put in place a committee. Employers are concerned about the size, structure and role of the committee and also how to ensure data confidentiality of employees.
- Employers are concerned about the timeline. They consider three years will pose a challenge to fulfill the pay equity plan thus are hoping to receive support from the Pay Equity Commission to ensure successful implementation.
Finally, Marie Clarke Walker provided some additional insights from the labour community. Three years ago, on International Women’s Day, the Canadian Labour Congress launched the campaign for women’s economic justice – #DoneWaiting. The campaign was a call for concrete action to tackle sexual harassment and violence, address the child care crisis and end gender-wage discrimination. Marie recognized that the Pay Equity Act is a step forward towards equal pay for work of equal value but there’s still work that needs to be done to ensure the regulations provide clear guidance to assist employers, pay equity committees and workers in the implementation. Some affiliates of the Labour Congress have begun raising awareness within their organizations as well as laying the ground to support pay equity committee members. Reaffirming Commissioner Jensen, Marie highlighted that robust resources and training for all parties involved will be crucial to ensuring a smooth implementation of the legislation. Additionally, Marie celebrated the Government of Canada, the Canadian Labour Congress and the Canadian Employers Council joining the Equal Pay International Coalition (EPIC) as a clear indication of their commitment to end gender-based wage discrimination.
We encourage you to watch the webinar as an informational tool to better understand the challenges and expectations of the Pay Equity Act. Should you have any question, please do not hesitate to contact the pay equity team at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website.
- Karen Jensen, Federal Pay Equity Commissioner, Canadian Human Rights Commission
- Derrick Hynes, President and CEO, Federally Regulated Employers – Transportation and Communications (FETCO)
- Marie Clarke Walker, Secretary Treasurer, Canadian Labour Congress