Pay Equity Equal pay for work of equal value is not a new idea. The United Nations Convention on the 'Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women' addresses this issue, as does the International Labour Organization Convention 100 on Equal Remuneration. Canada ratified Convention 100 in 1972 and currently there are laws addressing equal pay in every jurisdiction in Canada.
What do we mean by Pay Equity? There are three important, but different ideas we're talking about when we say Pay Equity. They are:
- Equal Pay for Equal Work – address the more overt form of discrimination in wages on the basis of gender. It involves direct comparison of jobs occupied by the opposite genders where the job is the same or basically the same.
- Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value – provides for reducing the wage gap by comparing jobs of a different nature that are considered "male" or "female" jobs.
- Pay Equity Laws – refers to legislated programs that aim to achieve equity in pay in an organized manner. Pay equity laws are most often proactive in that they don't require a complaint to be filed in order to achieve their goal. They use specific targets and deadlines and the collective bargaining process to achieve their aims.
How are jobs compared to evaluate equal pay? When comparing jobs to determine if there are equal pay issues there are four main criteria: 1) skill; 2) effort; 3) responsibility; and 4) working conditions. In the six provinces that have established pay equity laws these criteria are used for job comparisons. Other criteria that are used sometimes, include: duties, service, education, and experience.
What types of legislation provide for equal pay in Canada? Provisions on equal pay are found in three types of laws: human rights legislation, employment standards legislation, and pay equity legislation. Canada's thirteen jurisdictions provide for some type equal pay in their human rights legislation although it may only refer generally to job discrimination rather than specifically to equity in wages. In six jurisdictions, there are equality of pay provisions under the employment standards law and six have pay equity laws. Most jurisdictions have more than one law that deals with equal pay.
Generally, human rights laws and employment standards laws address the most overt forms of discrimination, the differences in wages between men and women who hold the same, or similar, employment. Pay equity laws provide a systematic and mandatory approach to eliminating systematic discrimination in wages in female-dominated occupations compared to male-dominated occupations. Some of these laws apply to both the public and private sector, while in some jurisdictions they apply only to the public sector.
How can you determine if an occupation is predominantly male/ female? Usually the marker that is used is when 60% of an occupational group is one gender. In some legislation other factors such as gender stereotyping are used.
Are there any cases where differences in pay are not considered discrimination? Many laws provide for this possibility. The reasons for which level of pay might be different, but not discriminatory, might include for example: a merit system, seniority, or pay based on quantity or quality of production.