Canadian Payroll Reporter - sample

April 2019

Focuses on issues of importance to payroll professionals across Canada. It contains news, case studies, profiles and tracks payroll-related legislation to help employers comply with all the rules and regulations governing their organizations.

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2 Canadian HR Reporter, a Thomson Reuters business 2019 News April 2019 Under the new federal Pay Equity Act, employers will be re- quired to create a pay equity plan by Dec. 13, 2021. The plan will have to indicate the number of employees, identify job classes in the workplace and which gen- der is predominate in each class, and evaluate the value of work each class does based on skill, ef- fort, responsibility and working conditions. If the plan shows differences in pay between comparable job classes, employers will have to increase the compensation paid to employees in the underpaid predominately female classes. Employers will also be required to post notices of their obliga- tions and how they are fulfilling them. Unionized workplaces and non-unionized employers with 100 or more employees will have to set up a pay equity committee to develop and update the plan, with a mandatory review at least every five years. The act will also establish a pay equity commissioner who will be responsible for adminis- tration and enforcement. The new process will advance beyond the current complaints- based system under the Cana- dian Human Rights Act, which requires employees to bring for- ward complaints about pay dis- crimination rather than requir- ing employers to examine their pay policies. The federal government said it drew on pay equity laws in Ontario and Quebec when de- veloping its act — the only two provinces with legislation that applies to public- and private- sector workers. Four other provinces — Man- itoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Is- land — have pay equity laws, but they only apply to public-sector workplaces. Advocates in New Brunswick are working to expand pay equity legislation to the private sector. "Too often, female-dominated jobs are undervalued and under- paid compared to male-dominat- ed jobs," stated the New Bruns- wick Coalition for Pay Equity in a letter to politicians last fall. "Thanks to Pay Equity Act, 2009, public-sector employees in female-dominated jobs have received equal pay for work of equal pay. However, 65 to 70 per cent of employed women work in the private sector in New Brunswick. The government should pass pay equity legisla- tion to protect their rights," it said. By the end of 2020, the coali- tion wants the government to implement recommendations from a recently released report calling for private-sector pay eq- uity legislation. The report was prepared by an advisory committee to the Eco- nomic and Social Inclusion Cor- poration, a government-created body made up of representatives from government, business, non-profit organizations, and individuals who have experi- enced poverty. It called for pay equity legis- lation that would cover all em- ployers in the province who have at least 10 employees. Like the province's current pay equity law, the report suggested that any new legislation be proactive, with regular reviews, rather than complaint-based. "Without legislation, pay eq- uity is dependent on employers' will, which is not always sufficient to ensure men and women are paid equitably," said the report. It also recommended that pay equity cover all types of employ- ees (for example: full-time, part- time, seasonal, contract) and that pay equity assessments not be contingent on there being a minimum number of employees in a job class. It suggested other features of the legislation could include a three-year phase-in, based on employer size, and the creation of a pay equity office to enforce the act and resolve disputes. "Regardless of the model cho- sen, it will be important to legis- late the fundamental right to pay equity and provide a clear legis- lative framework for its imple- mentation," it said. So far, the government has not said whether it will adopt the report's recommendations. Last fall, the government did not sup- port a private member's bill that would have mandated pay equi- ty for private-sector employers with at least 10 workers. Advocates in Newfoundland and Labrador are also waiting to see if their government will move on pay equity. Two years ago, members of all political parties in the legislature unani- mously approved an NDP mo- tion asking the government to develop pay equity legislation, but the government has yet to do so. In Alberta, the province's Hu- man Rights Act requires em- ployers to pay male and female employees the same rate when they do the same or substantially the same work, but it does not address equal pay for work of equal value. "The Human Rights Act and certain federal regulations ad- dress wage equity, but without legislation at the provincial level you can't really ensure wage equity is a reality," said Bonnie Gostola, a vice-president with the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees. A 2016 report on pay equity published by the Parkland Insti- tute — a non-partisan research centre affiliated with the Uni- versity of Alberta — also rec- ommended a pay equity law for the province. The report by Queen's Uni- versity professor Kathleen Lahey found that the income gap be- tween men and women in Alber- ta was 41 per cent, compared to a national average of 33 per cent. "Pay equity legislation is one of the first and most fundamen- tal steps in reducing this gender income gap, and bringing wom- en and men closer to income parity," said the report. It recommended compulsory pay equity legislation that would apply to both the public and pri- vate sectors. It also suggested that the government create a pay eq- uity commission to oversee the legislation and conduct audits. The Alberta government has not indicated whether it plans to table pay equity legislation. Pay equity has also been on the radar in British Columbia. Last year, a private member's bill was put forward that would require public companies to proactively take steps to address wage gaps based on gender for substantially similar work. "While equal pay for equal work is enshrined in the Human Rights Code, discrimination can only be prosecuted retroactively once it is detected or brought forward," said Liberal MLA Stephanie Cadieux at the time. "This legislation would require firms to proactively rectify wage gaps on their payroll." The bill did not advance be- yond first reading. To date, the B.C. government has not an- nounced plans to table its own pay equity law. Pay equity is also before the provincial legislature in Quebec — but for a different reason. The government has had to rewrite sections of its Pay Equity Act af- ter the Supreme Court of Cana- da ruled them unconstitutional. Last May, the court said certain provisions related to employer pay equity audits were invalid because they violated equality rights under the Canadian Char- ter of Rights and Freedoms. The Pay Equity Act requires employers to audit their pay eq- uity progress every five years, with wage adjustments applying from the date they post the audit results. "If the audits showed women were not being paid fairly, they could still only get pay equity ev- ery five years, with no backpay for unfair wages in between," said the court's summary of the case. "This has the effect of making the employer's pay equity obliga- tion an episodic, partial obliga- tion," it said. The proposed amendments that the province's National As- sembly is now studying aim to comply with the court's ruling by — among other changes — requiring that pay adjustments that occur following an audit be payable as of the date of the event leading to the adjustment and not from the date the employer posts the audit results. from PAY EQUITY on page 1 Debate underway in many provincial legislatures "Without legislation, pay equity is dependent on employers' will, which is not always sufficient."

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