Page Image Banner

Module 1: Are You Covered?


Welcome to the e-learning program of Ontario's Pay Equity Commission.

This module: Are You Covered?

This module is about the purpose of the Pay Equity Act and whether you are covered by this law.

Let's check whether you are covered by the requirements of the Act.

Answer the three questions on the following slides to determine if you are covered.

Do you have employees in Ontario?

  • Yes?

    Go to the next slide

  • No?

    This e-learning program is intended for private sector employers who have employees working in Ontario.

You can quit the program now or click the play button at the bottom left if you want to learn more about pay equity.

Have you had 10 or more employees at any time after December 31, 1987?

  • Yes?

    Go to the next slide

  • No? 

    Private sector employers with less than 10 employees are not covered by the Act.

You can quit the program now or click the play button at the bottom left if you want to learn more about pay equity.

Is your company federally regulated? If you're not sure, click on the link at the bottom right to open Note 1: Federal vs. Provincially Regulated Employers and determine whether you're federally or provincially regulated.

  • No?

    Go to the next slide.

  • Yes?

    Federally regulated employers are covered by the pay equity requirements of Canada's Human Rights Act. 

    This program covers the requirements of the Ontario Pay Equity Act.

You can quit the program now or click the play button at the bottom left if you want to learn more about pay equity.

You are covered by the Pay Equity Act if:

  • You have employees in Ontario, and
  • You had 10 or more employees in your private sector organization at any time after December 31, 1987

You are not covered by Ontario's Pay Equity Act if your organization is federally regulated.

This program has been designed to assist private sector employers establish pay equity in their workplace.

If you are a public sector employer, click on the link below to access the Guide to Interpreting Ontario's Pay Equity Act and find out more about pay equity in federally regulated organizations.

Although this program provides you with information about the Pay Equity Act, the Act takes precedence over this program.

You can access the Pay Equity Act through the link shown here.

Employers covered by the Act should understand their responsibilities and potential liabilities.

The Commissioner will address this topic on the next slide.

Message from the Commissioner

Commissioner: Hello, my name is Emanuela Heyninck, Ontario Pay Equity Commissioner.

I would like to speak to you today about liabilities under the Pay Equity Act.

While there are many good business reasons for doing pay equity in your workplace, you must understand that it is also the law in Ontario.

The purpose of the law is to address discriminatory practices that may exist which result in employees in female jobs being paid less than employees in comparable male jobs.

The obligation to achieve pay equity rests with the employer, even in a unionized environment. This obligation is not dependent upon an application or an investigation being launched.

What does this mean for you, as the employer? Firstly, any of your employees can bring a complaint against your company, even if that employee has left your place of employment. There is no time limit that restricts when a complaint can be filed.

Secondly, if you owe adjustments to your employees, your liability is retroactive to the date when pay equity should have been achieved in your workplace. For some employers, this can go back as far as 1990 and interest may be ordered on any adjustments that are owing.

Thirdly, there is no defence for non-compliance. You cannot say that you were not aware of your obligations under the Pay Equity Act, nor can you say that you didn't have sufficient money to pay the adjustments that are owing.

Finally, all new employees must be paid at the pay equity adjusted rates.

You must also be aware that your workplace may be monitored for non-compliance by the Pay Equity Office.

What can you do to minimize your liabilities?

Achieve and maintain pay equity if you haven't already done so.

Please make use of our extensive tools available on this website.

Thank you for your attention.

The next module will introduce you to pay equity as well as explain the process required to achieve it.

Back to page