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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.
Pro-active Monitoring by the Pay Equity Office
The Office has the authority to enforce the Act. It has broad general powers to do what is necessary to fulfill this mandate. In recent years the Office has conducted several types of monitoring programs to identify employers who may not be current with their pay equity obligations and to provide assistance to them to achieve pay equity. Details of the Office's past monitoring programs are reported in the Annual Reports, and information on current programs can be found on the website.
For monitoring purposes, the Office seeks to determine the status of pay equity in individual workplaces by asking employers to complete questionnaires about their establishment, workforce and wage rates. If the Office does not receive a reply from the employer or the replies are inadequate, a Review Officer may be assigned to investigate the employer and make orders that are necessary to ensure that the employer is meeting its legal obligation to achieve and maintain pay equity in its establishment(s).
How do Review Officers monitor companies?
Review Officers may ask employers to provide information on their job classes such as lists of female and male jobs and/or job descriptions, a copy of the job evaluation system or job comparison methods. Review Officers may ask to see pay equity plans or records of any pay equity adjustments made, payroll records, collective agreements, salary grids, job evaluation ratings, job rates or other documents. They may ask to speak to people on matters that may be relevant for carrying out his or her duties to enforce the Act.
Will businesses be monitored even if there has been no complaint made?
Regardless of whether a complaint is made, the Act requires all employers to whom it applies to achieve and maintain pay equity. The Tribunal has confirmed that Review Officers may investigate employers and issue orders even if there have been no complaint made. If an employer is monitored by the Office, the employer may be required to demonstrate that there were no pay equity gaps identified as a result of comparisons between female and male job classes of equal or comparable value; or if there were gaps that they were closed, that is female job classes are being paid at least the same as male job classes of equal or comparable value. If the Office receives a complaint and an investigation reveals that the employer did not meet its obligations under the Act, the employer would be required to do pay equity retroactively, and to pay any necessary retroactive adjustments with interest.
What if the employer cannot find the company's pay equity documents?
An employer may be asked to prove that pay equity has been achieved or maintained by the Review Officer who is investigating a complaint under the Act or monitoring a business. If there is no evidence that pay equity was done, it may have to be redone. Documents such as job descriptions and postings, personnel files, payroll, tax and accounting records or corporate documents such as Board of Directors' meeting minutes may provide information on the company's past pay equity activities.
Does the Pay Equity Office guarantee that an employer will not have future complaints after being monitored?
No. An employee or union can make a complaint about a contravention of the Act at any time. Complaints can be received even after a Review Officer has monitored or investigated the employer.
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