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Disclaimer: This Guide gives an overview of the minimum requirements of the Pay Equity Act as interpreted by the Pay Equity Office. The interpretations are drawn from our own experiences and by applying the key rulings of the Pay Equity Hearings Tribunal and the courts and is current to the date of publication.
About the Pay Equity Commission
The Pay Equity Commission is an independent agency of the government established by the Act. It is made up of two independent parts: the Pay Equity Office and the Pay Equity Hearings Tribunal [27. (2)].
About the Pay Equity Office
The Pay Equity Office is responsible for the enforcement of the Act [33. (1)]. The Office provides general education about pay equity and training sessions on implementing pay equity to the public. The Office's Review Services Unit receives complaints from employers, employees and unions about non-compliance (see "Enforcement and Complaints"). Review Officers are empowered under the Act to investigate and attempt to settle disputes about pay equity. They may also issue orders or make decisions [34. (3)]. A Review Officer may refer an order to the Tribunal if the order is not followed [24. (5)]. If an employer, employee or bargaining agent wishes to dispute an order or decision made by a Review Officer, they may make an application to the Tribunal [25. (1)].
About the Pay Equity Hearings Tribunal
The Tribunal is the adjudicative branch of the Commission [21.23, 25, 28, 29. (1)]. It has exclusive jurisdiction to determine all questions of fact or law that arise in any matter before it. The decisions of the Tribunal are final and conclusive for all purposes .
The Tribunal is a quasi-judicial body; it is required to be impartial and it must provide all parties with a fair hearing and fair process. The Tribunal's decision-makers are appointed for their specialised expertise in labour and employment law, compensation systems, and pay equity. In making its decisions the Tribunal must consider the specific issues in dispute between the parties in the context of the policy objectives and structure of the Act.
Recourse to the courts is limited, but could be made in cases where it could be shown, for example, that the Tribunal has gone beyond the scope of the Act.
Parties who wish to complain about a pay equity issue in their workplace must first file their complaint with the Pay Equity Office.
For more information about the Tribunal's proceedings, parties can refer to the Tribunal's "Rules of Practice" available on the Tribunal's website or from the Tribunal's Registrar.
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