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Pay Equity


Pay Equity

Which legislation addresses equal pay in my jurisdiction?

There are two laws in Québec that address equal pay: the Pay Equity Act, which applies to employers of the public, para-public and private sectors with 10 employees or more, and the Charter of Human Rights and Freedom, which applies to employers of all sectors who have less than 10 employees and who are not covered under the Pay Equity Act.

How does the law measure equality of pay?

The two laws that address equal pay in Québec measure equal pay differently.
  • Pay Equity Act – looks at compensation
  • Charter of Human Rights and Freedom – looks at equal salary or wages

How does the law compare different kinds of work?

The two laws that address equal pay in Québec compare work differently.
  • Pay Equity Act – compare value of job classes. Factors considered: required qualifications; responsibilities; effort required; conditions under which work is performed.
  • Charter of Human Rights and Freedom – does not mention criteria for comparison. The Charter stipulates that the employer must grant equal salary or wages for equivalent work

What reasons does the law consider acceptable for differences in pay?

  • Pay Equity Act – seniority; fixed duration assignments; the region in which the employee works; shortage of skilled workers; red circling; temporary employment. Also, coverage excludes: independent operators not considered to be employees of a single person; coop students; persons in summer employment; trainees; recipients of last resort benefits under income security legislation; senior managers; police officers; and fire fighters.
  • Charter of Human Rights and Freedom – experience; seniority; years of service; merit; productivity or overtime if these criteria are common to all members of the personnel.

How do I make a complaint about equality of pay discrimination?

  • Pay Equity Act – A Joint Pay Equity Committee or the employer must post the pay equity plan. Within 60 days, employees may request further information, or submit observations. The Committee or employer must respond within 30 days. Complaints that the pay equity program is deficient or absent, or that the Committee is acting in bad faith may be addressed to the Pay Equity Commission, which investigates and determines measures to be taken. Any party may apply to the Labour Court within 90 days, when dissatisfied with the measures determined by the Commission. The Commission refers matters to the Labour Court when measures it has determined are not implemented. Other matters may also be referred to the Labour Court by the Commission. Decisions of the Labour Court are final and without appeal.
  • Charter of Human Rights and Freedom – Complaints in matters affecting pay equity must be addressed to the Commission de l’équité salariale, with a possible recourse to the Labour Court.

Are there restrictions on recovering wages if my complaint is successful?

  • Pay Equity Act – This Act is not retroactive. The first pay adjustments are to be made at the latest on November 21, 2001, with equal subsequent yearly installments over the next four years, to achieve full equity in wages by November 21, 2005. A possible extension of up to three years may be received on approval by the Pay Equity Commission on a case by case basis. There is no monetary limit on pay adjustments.
  • Charter of Human Rights and Freedom – None.

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