The Liberal government of Ontario introduced on 6 March 2018, Bill 203 – Pay Transparency Act, 2018 (PTA) to promote economic gender equality. The proposed legislation requires large and medium-sized employers to report salary ranges to their employees and to the Ministry of Labour. Bill 203 passed its third reading on 7 May 2018, and is awaiting royal assent before entering into force on 1 January 2019.
Gender equality in Ontario is guaranteed under the Pay Equity Act, 1987. The act helped reduce gender pay inequalities, but statistics that remained unchanged for the past decade showed women are still being paid about 30 percent less than men. The government of Ontario hopes to close the existing gender pay gap with the PTA.
The bill proposes the following changes for employers with more than 100 employees working in Ontario province:
- Prohibits employers from asking job candidates about their compensation history. If the applicant voluntary discloses compensation history information, the employer can use that information to determine compensation for the applicant.
- Requires publicly advertised job postings to include a salary range for the position.
- Requires certain employers to submit a pay transparency report to the Ministry of Labour and post the data within their own workplace to make it available to all employees. The pay transparency report should include information relating to the employer’s workplace, gender pay differences and other characteristics that will be prescribed by the regulations applicable to the PTA, which are yet to be drafted.
- Prohibits employers from intimidating, penalizing or dismissing employees who made inquiries about their compensation, disclosed their compensation to other employees, asked the employer to comply with the PTA or inquired about a pay transparency report. If the employer contravenes the antireprisal provision, employees can file a complaint by arbitration or with the Ontario Labour Relations Board.
- Compliance officers may be appointed by the Ministry of Labour to ensure implementation of the PTA. Compliance officers may, without a warrant, conduct a compliance audit of an employer and ensure compliance with the PTA by inspecting and investigating a possible breach. Employers face penalties in the event of noncompliance with any of the provisions of the PTA. The amount of the penalties will be determined in accordance with the regulations applicable to the PTA, which are yet to be drafted.
While the bill will enter into force on 1 January 2019, pay transparency reports will not be required before 15 May 2020, for employers with more than 250 employees and 15 May 2021, for employers with 100 to 249 employees. Businesses should audit their pay structure and practices to determine whether pay differentials exist between male and female employees. Further regulations applicable to the PTA will be drafted to help clarify some of some provisions of the bill.
Full text of Bill 203 An Act respecting transparency of pay in employment.